It's the 81st time that the best players in the world gather in a little town situated in the north of the Netherlands, to cross bishops and knights and have the famous pea soup when the war is over.
It's not a tournament with big bucks for the winners if compared with other events, yet Wijk Aan Zee remains the most important tournament of the year.
Every year, in January, when it's as cold as it can get up there, the like of Carlsen, Kramnik, Mamedyarov, and all the elite of chess move to the coastal village on the North Sea to participate in the now sponsored by Tata Steel Chess International Tournament.
This year Caruana and Nakamura won't be in Wijk Aan Zee to represent the United States, but most everyone else up there in the FIDE list will. And there is a nice new-entry who will fight for the stars and stripes banner: Sam Shankland. Sam is an elite player now, sporting an excellent rating of 2724, and this will be his first super-tournament.
As anticipated, Carlsen (2835) will lead the pack of hungry wolves, along with Mameryarov (2817), Ding Liren (2813), Giri (2752), Kramnik (2777), Anand (2773), Nepomniachtchi (2763), Radjabov (2757), Duda (2735), Rapport (2732), Shankland (2724), Fedoseev (2719), Vidit (2701), and the local hero Van Foreest (2614).
In Group B, the Indian wunderkind Praggnanandhaa is the one to follow. Next year, we might find a 14 years old kid among the superstars!
Play starts January the 12th, at 7:30 AM EST - 13:30 CET - 12:30 GMT.
ICC will relay the games, and have LIVE commentary with GM Alex Yermolinsky on January 14, 20 and 27, starting at 9:30 AM EST!