It’s that Tata time of year, when 14 of the world’s top Super GMs hope their New Year’s resolutions come true as they vie to win the Wimbledon of chess: the Tata Steel Masters in that traditional venue, Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands!
With the tournament kicking off this weekend, and running for a fortnight until Sunday, January 28, all eyes are on how Magnus Carlsen will fare against his closest challengers: the US’s Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So, and the new world No. 3, Azerbaijan’s Shakhiyar Mamedyarov.
It’s a totally wicked lineup, and – except for Hikaru Nakamura, who’s off to defend his Gibraltar Open title later this month instead – virtually all the world’s top 10 will be in contention at the Tata Steel Masters.
Vishy Anand, fresh from his World Rapids win in Saudi Arabia, and world title challenger Sergey Karjakin will be joined by a bevy of combative heavyweights: Russians Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Svidler, the lone Dutch representative Anish Giri, China’s Wei Yi and Hou Yifan. With the event rounded out by new Russian star Maxim Matlakov, India’s Bashkiran Adhiban, and last year’s Challengers winner, Englishman Gawain Jones, we can be sure of plenty of fireworks.
A Challenging Year
The Dutch treat for chess fans will be a dress rehearsal for the Candidates in Berlin in March, and the winner of that event will get to challenge Magnus for the world title in London in November. It’s shaping up to be a humdinger of a year for top-level chess!
Timur’s time trouble
The American blindfold king, Timur Gareyev, was in the chess news this week –not for his feats of visualization, but for failing to escape traffic gridlock. Playing at the mammoth Delhi Open in India, Gareyev got stuck in a mindboggling downtown jam, and turned up for the second round 33 minutes after the start of play (that’s 3 minutes after default time). The genial GM was allowed to play (and win against) his junior opponent, only to be bemused afterward when he heard that a hurriedly convened appeals committee had defaulted him anyway.
This week’s free video:
This week’s FREE VIDEO is GM Arkadij Naiditsch’s ‘Winning in the Last Round’ in which he demonstrates how he beat England’s Nigel Short in a key last-round clash. Talking us through the key moments, Naiditsch explains how to cope with last-round nerves, gives tips on surprising your opponent, and shows how to play sensibly for a win.
Last newsletter’s puzzle solution:
McShane-Anand, World Rapidplay Championship, 2017. Did you find Vishy’s beautiful next move?
After 1…Qh3+!! 2 Kxh3 Rh1 was checkmate!
This week’s puzzle:
England’s Danny Gormally, playing White against Brazil’s Alexander Fier at the Hastings Masters, found a visually stunning move to take advantage of Black’s exposed king position. Can you spot the winning continuation? Answer next time.