Your Guide to Tata Steel 2016

tATACHESSAlthough located nearly 5000 miles away in a small town in the Netherlands, the Tata Steel tournament has a valuable place in American chess. In 2011, US #1 Hikaru Nakamura won clear first over World Champion Magnus Carlsen and former World Champions, Vishy Anand and Vladimir Kramnik. Garry Kasparov called Nakamura’s victory the best by an American in more than 100 years:
Fischer never won a tournament ahead of the world champion… I think you can go back to Pillsbury at Hastings 1895 for an American tournament victory on par with Nakamura’s.
Nakamura’s performance rating for the event was 2879. Although Nakamura is not competing this year, he is not the only American to have had a strong performance at Tata Steel. Last year, current US #3 Wesley So tied for 2nd place. He finished behind only Carlsen, who took the lead in the tournament with a six game winning streak. His successful performance also landed him his highest FIDE rating ever (2788), making him the highest rated American at the time.  So claimed that the weather of the coastal town of Wijk aan Zee was ideal for his chess:
"The wild wind didn't stop its crazy howling for almost a week... To try and explain the high-pitched wailing sound that pushed its way through walls and around tightly closed windows... is impossible if you haven't actually heard it yourself. It was fantastic. Unable to sleep through those nights, I got more study and prep work done than I ever have before. This might be the reason I made some good moves during the day."
One of So's impressive victories during the event was over Levon Aronian, the defending champion. Can you find the tactic he used to take advantage of Aronian's blunder (20...Ng8)?

So vs. Aronian (Tata Steel 2015)

White to move.

Show Solution

[pgn][Event "Tata Steel 2015"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Aronian, Levon"]
[Result "1-0"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "2b1kbnr/1rp2qpp/2p5/3p1PP1/2P1p3/7Q/PP1NB2P/R1B1K2R w KQk - 0 21"]
[PlyCount "8"]21. Bh5 g6 22. fxg6 $1 Bxh3 23. gxf7+ {The double attack at the end of the queen trade leaves So a piece ahead. This is why the placement of the knight on g8 was so unfortunate.} Kd7 24. fxg8=Q Rxg8 {and So went on to win.} 1-0[/pgn]
This year, Tata Steel Masters begins on January 16th and has an average rating of 2748.  Two top Americans, Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So,  are playing in this marathon 13-round tournament. Both have achieved 2nd place in the previous years. Will they be able to improve on their results and land another American victory? The competition also includes:
  • Magnus Carlsen, the World Champion
  • Anish Giri, World Rank #3
  • Sergey Karjakin, World Cup Winner
  • Wei Yi, the youngest player ever to break a FIDE rating of 2700 and Winner of the Challenger section last year
  • Hou Yifan, the highest ranked woman in the world
Additionally, Samuel Sevian, the record holder for youngest American Grandmaster ever, will compete in the Challengers section. Many players appreciate the atmosphere provided by Wijk aan Zee, a town highly focused on chess. Anish Giri had this to say about the setting of Tata Steel:
The atmosphere is unique. During January the whole town breathes chess, and it’s impossible to find a restaurant where nobody asks questions like wasn’t Rb4 a better option than Rd4? You won’t find that anywhere else.
Stay up-to-date on this world-class event at US Chess News and these resources:

Tata Steel Tournament Preview:


Official Website:

Results, Players & Schedule

Live Games and Commentary:

featuring Yasser Seirawan and other prominent Grandmasters

Social Media:

Photos, Quotes & Updates

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The tournament runs from January 16th-31st with most of the rounds beginning at 1:30 p.m. CET / 7:30 a.m. EST. Stay tuned for more updates as the tournament progresses.