Tata Steel Chess Tournament Wrap-Up

I was not happy with my result in Wijk aan Zee. After starting the tournament with a strong 3/4 I broke down after losing a drawn endgame in the fifth round against the eventual winner, GM Vocaturo. It was a tough pill to swallow. Losing such an important game to the tournament leader, while hoping to fight for first place, was not easy. It stayed in the back of my mind for some time.

The tournament involved a lot of ups and downs. Opening weaknesses were clear. I had problems playing with Black against 1.e4. I lost three games in three different openings there. I did not have similar problems against 1.d4. I was not playing with urgency in my losses in the Sicilian and Pirc. That will definitely be something to work on and look into.

The tournament was one of the tougher ones of my career. I went in with high expectations. This tournament was different from others in two main ways. A very long time control is implemented for the event at 100min/40moves + 50min/20moves + 15min/rest of the game, as well as 30sec added from the first move. The same time control was used in my next tournament in Moscow. The time control made the game much longer but also increased the level of play in a lot of games. The tournament also lasted 13 rounds. I have not played 13 games in a tournament in a very long time (I cannot recall the last time). Three rest days made the tournament even longer, but allowed for the players to maintain a high level of energy, as it allowed the players to relax. It’s always nice to finish such long tournament well and I was fortunate to do just that here. Two wins to finish the event put me in a tie for fourth.

I’ve had some time to reflect on my experiences in Wijk aan Zee since the tournament has ended. I have even had the time to play in another tournament since then. My impressions remain the same. The Tata Steel Chess Tournament is the best organized chess tournament I have ever witnessed. The organizers took care of absolutely everything. It was an extraordinary event, with great treatment and a phenomenal atmosphere. The level of competition was also strong all around. It was a pleasure to have the best chess players in the world playing just meters away.

Now to the lighter side of the wrap-up. I previously wrote about the soccer match played during the first rest day. I thought it would be a good addition to have my chosen MVP write a short summary of the match. Magnus’ summary below shows he has more talents than just chess and soccer:

“On a cold and windy day, in Wijk aan Zee, nine bold chessplayers came to play. Soccer was the game, and Smeets was to blame, for the Dutch defeat, it was such a shame. He missed every shot, and lost the plot. And neither was Hammer the man to jot the ball in the net, and with great regret, he had to concede that Carlsen was great, his brilliance was such, that it must have been fate. And thus ends the tale of a beautiful game, and the four brave young men who could victory claim.”

Magnus did not attempt to show much modesty in his amusing summary. I would also recommend to check out GM Jon Ludvig Hammer’s Blog for another entertaining summary of the soccer match, as well as a lot of other entertaining material.

Now to some of the photos.

Roeland Pruijssers trying his luck at blow-karting.

Anish Giri finished with his own adventure but still wearing the helmet. Talking to Robin Van Kampen and Fred Lucas.

The Playing Hall.

Audience looking at the Invitational Groups. You can see the walls painted beautifully, specifically for the tournament.

C-Group fridge. Drinks provided. We were never thirsty.

Your own before the 12th round.

Last round Media. Have you seen anything like this before? I haven’t.

The winner of the A-Group, GM Hikaru Nakamura, at the Closing Ceremony.

The four top finishers in the A-Group brought on stage. From left to right: Anand, Carlsen, Aronian and Nakamura.

The North Americans at the Dinner Banquet after the Closing Ceremony.

Local Restaurant.

Chess clocks beside the wine in a local restaurant. Only in Wijk aan Zee.

I’d like to thank Peter Doggers of Chessvibes for sending me the photos below.

Anish Giri blow-karting.

I was dressed warmly for the same experience. It was a lot of fun!


With this post, my report of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament comes to an end. I would like to thank Peter Doggers for helping me get into the event. I would like to thank Jeroen van den Berg and the whole organizing committee for inviting me to play in the event and making it such a spectacular tournament. I would also like to thank my hosts at the Villa ‘t Haasduin Bed and Breakfast, Eduard de Haas and Willemien de Haas, for making my stay very enjoyable. I would recommend the home like accommodation to anybody who is planning to go to Wijk aan Zee (and do not pass on the Danish pancakes!).


One Response to Tata Steel Chess Tournament Wrap-Up

  1. Denton Cockburn says:

    It looks like you guys had a lot of fun on your rest days. For addressing your losses against 1. e4, I’m guessing you’ll just go over the openings you played and see what the underlying problems you had came from.

    I hope you get it worked out, good luck in your next tournament.

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