Participants Tata Steel Challengers 2017


Dutch grandmaster Jorden van Foreest, who surprisingly managed to win the Dutch Championship in August, will measure his strength against young and experienced grandmasters from ten countries in Wijk aan Zee in January.

The organisers of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament announced the participants of the Tata Steel Challengers 2017 today. Markus Ragger (Austria), Ilia Smirin (Israel), Gawain Jones (England) and Jeffery Xiong (USA) are some of the grandmasters Van Foreest will have to surpass in order to take the title in the Tata Steel Challengers. Sopiko Guramishvili (Georgia) is one of the two women grandmasters participating. She is married to Anish Giri, who will participate in the Tata Steel Masters. It is the first time that a married couple will play on the main stage in Wijk aan Zee. The 79th edition of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament will take place in Wijk aan Zee from 13 – 29 January 2017.

Jeroen van den Berg, director of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament: “The field of participants of the Tata Steel Challengers is a mix between rising talents and more experienced players. This group has many grandmasters who might surprise us”. With an average rating of 2591 it is a strong field. Last year’s average rating was 2570. The highest ranked participant is 28-year-old Austrian Markus Ragger. He is the first Austrian to participate since Karl Robatsch participated in the sixties. Veteran Smirin (he will turn 49 before the tournament) will offer fierce resistance, as will first-time participant Gawain Jones from England, Swedish player Nils Grandelius, known for his original attacks and Jeffery Xiong, who was crowned youth world champion under 20 in India in August. At that time he was only 15-years-old. Xiong, who is linked to the Kasparov Chess Foundation, is known to be a super talented player and is the youngest grandmaster participating in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2017. He could turn out to be one of the players vying for the title. Apart from Jorden van Foreest The Netherlands are represented by Erwin l’Ami and Benjamin Bok. Young Norwegian Aryan Tari (1999) will try to follow in the footsteps of his big example Magnus Carlsen. Tari was a member of the Norwegian Olympiad team, which surprised by ending in fifth place. The women grandmasters in the Tata Steel Challengers are Tingjie Lei from China, still relatively unknown in the West and Sopiko Guramishvili from Georgia. The latter took second place behind winner Vladimir Dobrov (Russia) in the Top Ten Tournament in 2016. The fourteenth participant will be the player from the ACP Competition with the highest rating under 2650 on 1 December.

Preliminary list of participants Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2017, Tata Steel Challengers

Name Rating Year of birth Country
Markus Ragger 2694 1988 Austria
Ilia Smirin 2674 1968 Israel
Gawain Jones 2663 1987 England
Jeffery Xiong 2660 2000 United States
Nils Grandelius 2646 1993 Sweden
Lu Shanglei 2616 1995 China
Jorden van Foreest 2614 1999 The Netherlands
Erwin l'Ami 2608 1985 The Netherlands
Benjamin Bok 2597 1995 The Netherlands
Aryan Tari 2572 1999 Norway
Vladimir Dobrov 2505 1984 Russia
Tingjie Lei 2473 1997 China
Sopiko Guramishvili 2370 1991 Georgia