Magnus Carlsen will play his 13th Tata Steel Chess Tournament in 2017. That is exactly half his age (26). It proves the special relationship between the World Champion and his favourite tournament, where he started his impressive career in 2004 and already winning with the fantastic score of 10,5 – 13 at the age of 13 in the former Grandmastergroup C of our tournament. Since then, Magnus has won both the B- and A-Group. He even won the main tournament 5 times, which makes him the all-time Tata Steel Chess record holder, together with Viswanathan Anand. In a 2015 edition of SAS Traveler Magazine, Carlsen revealed that Wijk aan Zee was his favourite beach. “This small Dutch coastal village is very interesting to visit in the summer. I’ve played a chess tournament there during January in 11 out of the last 12 years” he told the publication. Carlsen proved these words in June 2016, with a special three-day ‘summer visit’ to Wijk aan Zee between the rapid tournaments in Leuven and Paris. No need to say that we are very proud that the World Champion keeps on coming back to Wijk aan Zee.
Personal page: magnuscarlsen.com
Levon Aronian is a four-time winner of our tournament and one of our regular attendees. He knows the surroundings of the town very well and have made many friends here. With his social approach to organizers, representatives from the media and his many fans, the ‘everybody’s friend’ is seen not only in Amsterdam on free days, but also at wine tastings with some friends in Beverwijk - a typical example of how much Levon likes the unique atmosphere of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament. His debut in 2006 led to 7th place but Aronian still managed to land a spot in the Top 3. 2016 was a very good year for Aronian, especially compared to the previous year where he struggled to reach his full potential. In the 2015 Tata Steel Chess edition, Aronian finished with a score of 5,5 – 13. It will be exciting to see whether the Armenian Super GM can fight for first place again in his 10th appearance in Wijk aan Zee.
Personal page: twitter.com/levaronian
The star of the bright American ‘kid’ Wesley So is rising fast. So’s definite breakthrough to the World Class Players Group was in 2016, when he won the Elite Tournament in St. Louis, then winning the Chess Olympiad in Baku only a few weeks later as top scorer with the American Team. Through all his success, Wesley remains an open minded person, who is always approachable for organizers, press and fans. That is what has made him so popular in Wijk aan Zee, where he will play his fourth consecutive tournament at the Tata Steel Masters. Wesley’s first appearance at our tournament was in 2009, winning the former Grandmastergroup C and later placing twice in the sub-top of the B tournament. At the end of the tournament, Wesley will attend the traditional challenge against the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday 31st January – an event we all look forward to. Will this year be So’s winning year at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament?
Personal page: wesleyso.com
The Challenger for the World Championship Match in New York, Sergey Karjakin, has a rather unique parallel with his opponent Magnus Carlsen, also when it comes to the tournament in Wijk aan Zee. Both players are born in 1990 and both have made their first steps on the highest level in Wijk aan Zee. Karjakin played his first Tata Steel Chess Tournament in 2003, joining the B-Tournament at the age of 13 where he made an impressive debut with a 7-13. Two years later he won the second group and from then he became a member of the elite players recognized internationally. In 2009, Karjakin won the Tata Steel Masters tournament; his first win in Wijk aan Zee where he stood one point ahead of his rival Magnus Carlsen. In 2013 Karjakin placed 3rd and one year later, made his way up to 2nd place. As many young top players, Karjakin already has a long history of visiting Wijk aan Zee in January. In 2017 he will play his 11th Tata Steel Chess Tournament.
Personal page: twitter.com/sergeykaryakin
Young Dutch superstar Anish Giri came to Holland in his early teens, and mastered the language fluently in no time. The Tata Steel Chess Ambassador led a ‘normal life’ in high school, not far away from his hometown Rijswijk, where he used to live with his parents. Meanwhile he managed to become a top grandmaster, which proves his huge talent and intelligence. After having finished his school, Giri became a professional. Wijk aan Zee has no secrets for Anish. Though his respectable young age of 22 years, he will play for the 9th time in a row in our tournament, having participated in all three groups (A, B and C). Since 2011 Anish has played in the Masters, with two second places and one fourth place as his best achievements so far. In 2016 Giri became father of a son called Daniel, perhaps this joyful moment can inspire him to win the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in 2017, meaning that Anish could be the first Dutch winner since legend Jan Timman, who won in 1985.
Personal page: anishgiri.nl