All Tata Steel Masters

The Tata Steel Chess Tournament attracts the very best chess Grandmasters in the world. Visitors to the tournament have witnessed the domination of the biggest names in the chess world including Magnus Carlsen and Gary Kasparov.

NameCountryRatingPosition
GMCarlsen, MagnusNOR28341
GMCaruana, FabianoUSA28112
GMMamedyarov, ShakhriyarAZE28043
GMSo, WesleyUSA27926
GMKramnik, VladimirRUS27877
GMSvidler, PeterRUS276810
GMAnand, ViswanathanIND276711
GMKarjakin, SergeyRUS275314
GMGiri, AnishNED275215
GMWei, YiCHN274322
GMMatlakov, MaximRUS271832
GMHou, YifanCHN268064
GMAdhiban, B.IND265596
GMJones, Gawain C BENG2640127

Average rating: 2750
Category: 20

FIDE-ratings of January 2018

 We will be introducing all Masters one by one in more detail over the next few weeks:

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen will play his 14th Tata Steel Chess Tournament in 2018. It proves the special bond between the World Champion and his favourite tournament, where he started his impressive career in 2004, 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, as did Viswananthan Anand, Magnus’ predecessor as World Champion. Carlsen is still the clear nr. 1 in the world rankings, but his direct rivals are getting closer. No need to say that we are very proud that the World Champion keeps on coming back to Wijk aan Zee! It will be interesting to see whether he will be absolute record holder in Tata Steel victories. As every year he is the clear favourite for first place.

Personal page: magnuscarlsen.com

Country: Norway

Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana finished the year 2017 in style: the number 2 of the world won the very strong London Chess Classic, beating Ian Nepomniachtchi in the playoff. The now 25-year old has been in the top-10 for many years and his list with successes is enormous. It started in the year 2007, when the Italo-American became Grandmaster at the age of 14. In January 2008 he made his debut in Wijk aan Zee, winning the then called Grandmaster Group C. He made quick progress on the World Ranking List and one year later he won the B-Group as well, qualifying for the A-Group in 2009. Fabiano is the only player who won the Grandmaster groups C and B in two consecutive years! Despite these remarkable results in Wijk aan Zee, one result is still missing on his impressive track record: Caruana never won the Tata Steel Masters. We are quite sure that he regrets this a lot and this motivation makes him one of the favourites for 2018. Apart from London, Fabiano also won strong tournaments in St. Louis, Bucharest, Baku, Khanty Mansiysk and Dortmund, to name a few. He was member of the USA Team that won the Chess Oympiad in 2016, playing at the first board being US-Champion at that moment. 

Country: USA 

(Photo: New in Chess)

Shakriyar Mamadyarov

2017 was the year of Shakh Mamedyarov. At the start of that year, Mamedyarov was ranked 13th on the FIDE Rating list, with 2766. Exactly one year later we find him back on the third place, with 2803, just behind Carlsen and Caruana. From 13 to 3 in only 12 months, breaking the 2800-barrier for the first time in his career, qualifying for the Candidates in Berlin…, life could not go better for Mamedyarov! The two times World Junior Champion will play for the 4th time in the Masters. His best result was in 2016, when he shared 7th place. It is clear that he wants to break his personal Tata Steel record in 2018. Mamedyarov played on board-1 of the Azerbaijan team that won the European title in Crete in 2017. He also won the Gashimov Memorial Tournament in Shamkir, for the second time in a row. And Mamedyarov won the FIDE Grand Prix Cycle 2017, giving him one of the eight spots in the Candidates Tournament, where the winner will face World Champion Magnus Carlsen in a match. It will be interesting to see whether the charismatic and always approachable Mamedyarov can win Tata Steel Chess for the 1st time. With his attacking style and huge self-confidence he is definitely one of the favourites in the 80th edition.

 

Country: Azerbaijan

 

(Photo: New in Chess)

Wesley So

Born in the Philippines on October 9th 1993, Wesley was only six when he learned the movement of chess pieces across a board. After memorizing them, chess set in hand, he explored the streets of his neighbourhood daring people to play with him. At nine years old he began to compete in local junior chess tournaments. His first major tournament win was taking 1st place at the 2003 Philippine National Chess Championships for the under 10 age group. Later, after taking the American nationality, his star rose fast. So’s definite breakthrough to the World Class Players Group was in 2016, when he won the Elite Tournament in St. Louis. 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 reached another highlight in his career, winning the 79th Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2017 convincingly and unshared, leaving world champion Magnus Carlsen  a full point behind. Not everything turned into gold later that year, since in St Louis 2017 he shared last place with only 3 points of 9 games, a big upset for Wesley, who seemed to be unbeatable till then. We are glad that he comes back to defend his title!

 

Personal page: wesleyso.com
Country: USA

Vladimir Kramnik

It has been quite a while since ‘Big Vlad’ played in our tournament: 2011 was the last time, when he finished in shared 5th place, with 1.5 point less than winner Hikaru Nakamura. Kramnik played12 times in Wijk aan Zee in total. His first tournament was in 1998, where he shared first place with his friend and rival Viswanathan Anand. It has been his only tournament victory so far. It is always a pleasure to have Kramnik around, so we are glad that he accepted the invitation! The former World Champion (2000 - 2007) is still very active as a player, despite the fact that the now 42 years old once ‘threatened’ to quit chess at the age of 40… Kramnik is still difficult to beat, all his opponents respect him a lot, also the ones from the new generation. Can he compete for first place in Wijk aan Zee? We believe he can! His form in January will be of great importance. When his form is good, Kramnik is definitely one of the top favourites in this event. Welcome back in Wijk aan Zee, Vladimir! Many chess fans will follow his steps in the coast village from move to move, as Kramnik still has many fans all over the world!

Country: Russia

 

(Photo: New in Chess)

Peter Svidler

Born in Leningrad in 1976, Svidler has been among the world’s best chess players for years. He currently ranks 10th on the live rating list, after he won the Russian Championship for the 8th time (in December 2017), which definitely can be considered as a unique achievement. Peter’s highest ranking ever was fourth in 2004.

It has been a while since Svidler played in Wijk aan Zee. That was in 2007, the year in which Aronian, Topalov and Radjabov won the tournament. During that edition Svidler beat the then 16-year-old Magnus Carlsen, who debuted in the top group that year. Svidler also participated in 1999, 2004 and 2005. Svidler has been active as commentator at large tournaments for several years now, attracting a huge following with his humour, chess strength and deep understanding of all kind of positions, which he is capable to explain to chess players of different levels in skill. However, he has never given up on playing chess himself, to which his continuous high ranking is testament. And the 8th Russian title as the most recent example of this of course!

(Photo: New in Chess)

Viswanathan Anand

The great Vishy Anand already played 17 times in Wijk aan Zee, including his Candidates match against Arthur Jusupov in 1994. Anand made his debut in 1989, the period when his nickname was still ‘Speedy Gonzales’, asit was his habit the to think between 30 and 60 minutes about an entire game. It proved his exceptional talent for the game. Anand had just turned 19 then when he shared first place in our tournament with Sax, Ribli and Nikolic at his first appearance in Wijk aan Zee in 1989. Later, Anand won again in 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2006. Together with Carlsen he is record holder, winning the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 5 times. Vishy however, also made 6 second places and 3  third places. So Wijk aan Zee and Viswanathan Anand go together quite well! Not only in results; Vishy has said more than once that he likes the particular atmosphere in the coastal village.

Of course there is more than Wijk aan Zee on his record list: the tiger from Madras (now Chennai) was World Champion, Junior World Champion and he won practically all important tournaments  all over the world (Tilburg, Linares, Madrid, Monaco, Dortmund, Mainz, Leon…. only to name a few…). As for Kasparov, Fischer and Karpov it is not easy to write a small biography about Anand, because his list with successes is simply too long to name them all. It is our pleasure that the modest chess giant from India is back in Wijk aan Zee, after a few years of absenceHe comes to our tournament as the fresh World Champion in Rapid Chess, a prestigious title he gained in Ryadh, in the last week of 2017.

Country: India

 

(Photo: New in Chess)

Sergey Karjakin

The Challenger for the World Championship Match 2016 in New York, Sergey Karjakin, has a rather unique parallel with World Champion 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 recognised internationally. In 2009, Karjakin won the Tata Steel Masters Tournament; In 2013 Karjakin placed 3rd and one year later he 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 2018 he will play his 12th Tata Steel Chess Tournament. Karjakin already secured his spot in the Candidates Tournament as the winner in Moscow 2016.

Personal page: twitter.com/sergeykaryakin

Country: Russia 

(Photo: New in Chess)

Anish Giri

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. He will play for the 10th 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. Giris is known as one of World’s best prepared opening players, while he is also known as practically unbeatable. Still 2016 and 2017 did not bring him the successes he was hoping for, so the 80th TSCT is an important tournament for him in several aspects. Can Anish be the first Dutch winner since legend Jan Timman, who won in 1985?

Twitter: @anishgiri; Personal page: anishgiri.nl;

Country: Netherlands


Wei Yi

Can one say that an 18-year old player is already a very experienced player with an impressive track record? Yes, when it concerns the former chess prodigy Wei Yi this is possible. At the age of 13 years, 8 months and 23 days he became the 5th youngest Grandmaster ever. Two years later he broke a rating record, being the youngest player ever to reach a rating of 2700. One year earlier he did the same, breaking the 2600-record at the age of 14. Now Wei Yi is ranked 22nd, with a rating of 2738.

He will play his 3rd consecutive Tata Steel Masters Tournament. Last year he had his best result, finishing shared third place with Adhiban Baskaran and Levon Aronian. Wei Yi is the current Chinese Champion, a title he has now for three consecutive years.

 

Country: China

Maxim Matlakov

Maxim Matlakov is the only debutant in the Masters. It is also his first appearance in Wijk aan Zee, as he never played in one of our Grandmastergroups before. The 26-year old won the ACP-Competition, in which all players with a rating under 2750 (per 1. January 2017) can compete for 1 spot in the Masters. Matlakov had a good year in 2017, with an absolute highlight in June, when he won the Individual European title in Minsk. On the FIDE World Ranking List in December 2017 Matlakov was still the Nr. 23 in the World, but a disappointing Russian Super Final (won by Peter Svidler) threw him out of the Top-30, losing 17 important rating points. So in different aspects Wijk aan Zee 2018 is important for the young Russian: he wants to get back to the Top-20 (or at least get close) and he wants to prove that his invitation for the Masters was a good choice. We wish him good luck at his debut in Wijk aan Zee!

Country: Russia

(Photo: New in Chess)

Hou Yifan


The name of Hou Yifan is well known in the world of chess. She is considered the second best female player ever, after the Great Judit Polgar. Both players can be seen as absolute phenomena. And what we perhaps might forget: Hou Yifan is only 23 years old! She still can become (much) stronger, that is what many chess fans feel. In 2016 it was Judit Polgar herself who brought a visit to our tournament, see picture, where she followed Hou Yifan’s game against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
Hou Yifan was three times women’s world champion, but in 2017 she decided to concentrate only on all-round chess. Actually she had one of her biggest successes in the summer of 2017, winning unshared in the very strong round robin tournament in Biel. Her best result ever? Hou Yifan herself considers her shared victory in Gibraltar 2012 as even better! 
With her bright smile and modest character she is always nice company in any chess event. In Wijk aan Zee she will play for the 4th time in the Masters.

 

Country: China

Adhiban Baskaran

In 2016 the then 23-year old prodigy from India played one of his best tournaments ever, winning the Tata Steel Challengers and thus qualifying for the Tata Steel Masters in 2017. Adhiban shared first place with the strong GM’s Safarli and Dreev, but took first place on tiebreak (mutual result): he had defeated both Safarli and Dreev in the tournament. His first appearance in a top level tournament in 2017 went even better! Probably even much better than Adhiban had expected himself. He shared 3rd place with Aronian and Wei Yi, with the impressive score of 7,5 - 13. He won four games, among others against the then WC-finalist Sergey Karjakin. With his open mind, attractive style and positive approach to everybody (fans, colleagues, organizers, journalists) he gained many new fans and it also brought him the prestigious ‘Gashimov-Award’ for the most sportive player in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2017. For the organizers of Tata Steel Chess this was a clear reason to invite Adhiban back in the Jubilee Tournament, an invitation he gladly accepted.

Country: India

 

(Photo: New in Chess)

Gawain Jones

Last edition Gawain Jones made his first appearance in our tournament, immediately winning the Tata Steel Challengers after a very exciting event, in which four players were competing for the 1st prize until the very last day (Jones, Ragger, Xiong and Smirin). It was Gawain himself who said honest, during the closing ceremony, that he was lucky to make a draw against Chinese GM Lu in the last round, which brought him the invitation for the Masters in 2018. The reigning British Champion (he also won this title in 2012) will compete on the highest level in an elite tournament for the first time in his career. Good advice from his English team mates and friends might be needed, as Nigel Short and Michael Adams have a lot of experience in this area; not only in international events on the highest level, but also in Wijk aan Zee. They both know what it's like to play more than two weeks against the World Top. Now it is time for Gawain Jones to do the same!

Country: England