The "Tata Steel Chess" tournament opens the season of supertournaments this year. A survey was devoted to it on the website chessvibes.com. The article is presented below, with some changes and additions.
The 75th jubilee edition of the second longest running tournament in the world (after Hastings) will take off on Saturday with the first round of the Grandmaster Groups A, B and C. Traditionally, a few events will take place earlier: on Thursday there's a "meet & greet" with the drawing of lots of GM group C, on Friday there's the official opening ceremony with the drawing of lots of groups A and B and the first amateurs will be moving the pieces on Friday night in the Weekender.
Now that the famous Linares supertournament has disappeared from the chess calendar, perhaps it's time to start calling the Tata Steel tournament the Wimbledon of chess. It might not be the strongest tournament (for this we should look at the Tal Memorial or the London Chess Classic), but the formula of three big groups of fourteen players is still unique.
The event has been held since 1938 and until 1999, the year of the famous game Kasparov-Topalov, the event was called Hoogovens Tournament. Between 2000 and 2010 the name was Corus Tournament and since 2011 it is called Tata Steel tournament, after Tata Steel bought Corus in April 2007 for 8.1 billion Euros. With an annual crude steel capacity of 23.8 million tonnes it is currently the world's twelth largest steel company.
Traditionally there will be three "Grandmaster Groups", single round robins with fourteen players. They play from Saturday, January 12th till Sunday, January 27th. The rounds start at 13:30 CET except for the last round which starts at 12:00 CET. There are three rest days: January 16th, 21st, and 24th. The rate of play for all groups is 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from the first move.
The top group of the 75th Tata Steel Chess Tournament will have both World Champion and five times winner Vishy Anand, and world number one and two times winner Magnus Carlsen. The young Norwegian, who now holds the highest ever rating ever of 2861, will play for the 10th time in Wijk aan Zee.
Six players out of the current top ten will be present in Wijk aan Zee. Besides Anand and Carlsen there's three times winner Levon Aronian, fast-rising star Fabiano Caruana and former winners Sergey Karjakin and Hikaru Nakamura.
A remarkable name is 18-year-old Hou Yifan, the former Women's World Champion. She will be playing her first Grand Slam tournament ever. Another debutant is Pentala Harikrishna of India, who won the B group last year and thus promoted to the A group.
Traditionally a number of local heros have been included in the top group as well. Besides Anish Giri these are Loek van Wely, Ivan Sokolov and Erwin l’Ami.
The B group is strong as well, and sees a mixture of young talents and experienced GMs. The top three players of the last World Junior Championship are present (Alexander Ipatov, Richard Rapport and Nils Grandelius), and also youngsters Daniil Dubov (who performed strongly at the Russian Championship) and Robin van Kampen (who tied for first at the London Classic Open and the Basel Open recently). Former winners Jan Timman (1981 and 1985) and Predrag Nikolic (1989 and 1994) are present as well.
Update 9 January 2013, 12:57 CET: Grandmaster Sipke Ernst from Groningen replaces Ni Hua in the Grandmastergroup B. The Chinese GM had to withdraw from the tournament due to a serious illness. Ernst, rated 2556, is the current number 12 in the Netherlands, exactly one place behind Jan Timman.
The Grandmaster Group C will see ten debutants. This year the South American continent is well represented again with Krikor Mekhitarian (Brazil) and Fernando Peralta (Argentina). Another notable newcomer is 14-year-old Alexandra Goryachkinan of Russia, the current Girls U18 World Champion, whoreplaced Salem Saleh from the United Arab Emirates.
The remaining seven debutants are Igor Betinsky (who promoted from the nine round event in 2012 -meaning the top amateur group below the C-group), Alexander Kovchan (who qualified as the runner-up from the Groningen Open), the Italian Sabino Brunello, the young Icelander Hjörvar Steinn Gretarsson and Dutchmen Twan Burg, David Klein and Miguoël Admiraal. The latter finished as best Dutchman at the Cultural Village Tournament in November in Wijk aan Zee. Living in Velserbroek, Admiraal can be seen as a local player.
The organizers couldn't come to a (financial) agreement with Yaroslav Zherebukh, who "qualified" by winning the BDO tournament in Haarlem in August. Eduardas Rozentalis, the winner of the Cultural Village tournament, already had other plans for January. The runner-up in both events (Burg and Brunello respectively) took their place.We would add that many spectators will be rooting for the star of the 1970s-80s Oleg Romanishin, who marked his 60th birthday last year. But all the younger fans - and not only them - will be watching the games of the charming Lisa Schut.
Material prepared by Sergey Kim
"Wijk" opens the season!