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Tata Steel Masters 2022


As we are now two days away from the start of the Tata Steel 2022, it would make sense to share some thoughts and facts about this tournament and the unique and unparalleled tradition that it represents. None of all the top tournaments in the chess world have run longer nor have had as much prestige as Tata Steel. The Dutch tournament has historically gone by other names before 2011, such as Hoogovens and Corus, but is now better known by Wijk aan Zee, where it now takes place. Since WW2, save for Fischer and Smyslov, every world champion has won the tournament; of the winners, Carlsen is the one with the most wins at 7, 1 shared with Aronian; and Kasparov, playing 3 times and winning all 3. The tournament had some amazing lineups in the past: in 2001, 9 of the top 10 in the world played in the tournament! The Wijk aan Zee tournament has always been running, even when other legendary events such as Linares stopped (Linares started in 1978 and was played continuously from 1988–2010). In its very basic small format, Tata Steel has been running all the way since starting in Beverwijk in 1938! It's truly a significant piece of chess history.

Even during COVID-19 complications, the tournament was still played last year, producing one of the most surprising results; the tournament was deservedly won by local hero GM Jorden van Foreest.


GM Jorden Van Foreest with the 2021 trophy (photo credit 
Jurriaan Hoefsmit)

While still being a strong GM, winning such an elite tournament ahead of the highly skilled competition, with the likes of Carlsen, Alireza, Caruana, and Giri, is nearly unheard of feat. Van Foreest finished with 8.5 out of 13 together with Giri—both without a loss! The playoffs reached Armageddon, ending with Giri winning only to allow the title to slip away from him. Carlsen's tournament didn't go smoothly, with only 3 wins and one loss to a well-playing Esipenko. Comparatively, Caruana had scored a respectable 8. Esipenko's only loss was to the lowest rated player, Tari, which might have been what prevented him from winning. 
Van Foreest definitely has a herculean task cut to defend his title. In addition to the players mentioned above returning, the tournament will have two of the most interesting and exciting players in the world: the Polish super-GM Duda, winner of the world cup, and Hungarian super-GM Rapport. Two other super GMs will be the two-time winner of Shamkir Chess Mamedyarov and the 2016 World Championship runner-up Karjakin. Shankland will also be playing, along with Indian prodigy Praggnanandha, the ever-interesting Dubov, and finally, to complete the lineup are Indian super-GM Vidit and Sweden's top player, Grandelius. All this can be said in short to be an unbelievably competitive cast.

 

Magnus Carlsen 2865 1 1990, NOR
Fabiano Caruana 2792 4 1992, USA
Anish Giri 2772 7 1994, NED
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2767 9 1985, AZE
Richard Rapport 2763 11 1996, HUN
Jan-Krzysztof Duda 2760 13 1998, POL
Sergey Karjakin 2743 18 1990, RUS

Santosh Gujrathi Vidit

2727 22 1994, IND
Daniil Dubov 2720 24 1996, RUS

Andrey Esipenko

2714 26 2002, RUS
Sam Shankland 2708 29 1991, USA

Jorden Van Foreest

2702 35 1999, NED

Nils Grandelius

2672 67 1993, SWE

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa

2612 195 2005, IND

 

Yet, the real big story of the 2022 tournament is the player not participating: the world number 2, the only other player above 2800, and the 'hottest' recent name, Alireza.
As for the reason he won't be playing, it might have to do with the incident in last year's tourney, which I will not exactly get into the details about. It's easy to say that in spite of all this, the chess world would love to see him play in a tournament such as this one. Right now, Alireza seems like the single best player that could truly challenge Carlsen. Hopefully, at the very least, we'll get to see them playing each other a few times this year.

Even without Alireza, this should prove to be an extremely interesting tournament. Carlsen making it up to 2900 is clearly his target, and a few young, 'hungry' players will stand in his way in Tata Steel 2022. We will be here to follow the games and share our thoughts with you—Enjoy!

SCHEDULE

Jan 14 Opening Ceremony
Jan 15 Round 1 - 8 AM EST, 14:00 CET
Jan 16 Round 2 - 8 AM EST, 14:00 CET
Jan 17 Round 3 - 8 AM EST, 14:00 CET
Jan 18 Round 4 - 8 AM EST, 14:00 CET
Jan 19 REST DAY - Video Recap with GM Joel Benjamin
Jan 20 Round 5 - 8 AM EST, 14:00 CET
Jan 21 Round 6 - 8 AM EST, 14:00 CET
Jan 22 Round 7 - 8 AM EST, 14:00 CET
Jan 23 Round 8 - 8 AM EST, 14:00 CET
Jan 24 REST DAY - Video Recap with GM Joel Benjamin
Jan 25 Round 9 - 8 AM EST, 14:00 CET
Jan 26 Round 10 - 8 AM EST, 14:00 CET
Jan 27 REST DAY - Video Recap with GM Joel Benjamin
Jan 28 Round 11 - 8 AM EST, 14:00 CET
Jan 29 Round 12 - 8 AM EST, 14:00 CET
Jan 30 Round 13 - 8 AM EST, 14:00 CET

 

GM Ronen Har-Zvi

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