Friday, February 5, 2016

Pestaño: All about Tata Steel

TO be invited to Tata Steel is like getting an invitation to the White House. It is rich in history and is one of the longest running tournament in the international chess calendar as it is now on its 78th edition.
The tournament took place last Jan. 15 to 31 in the coastal village of Wijk aan Zee, North Holland. The “Wimbledon of Chess” invites only the top grandmasters in the world, along with thousands of players, live event visitors and online visitors from around the world. The tournament has two main groups, each with 14 players. They are known as the Tata Steel Masters and the Tata Steel Challengers.
I will concentrate only on the Masters group.
It was called the Hoogovens tournament from its inception in 1938 until 1999, after which the Dutch steel and aluminum producer Koninklijke Hoogovens merged with British Steel to form the Corus Group on Oct. 6 1999 (“Hoogoven” is Dutch for “blast furnace”, literally “high oven”). The Corus Group was acquired by Tata Steel in 2007 and since then, the tournament has been called the Tata Steel Chess Tournament.
This year, the event was rated Category 20 with an average Elo rating of 2750. Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Ding Liren, Wesley So, Sergey Karjakin, Pavel Eljanov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Michael Adams, David Navara, Wei Yi, Yifan Hou and Loek Van Wely were Group A players of the first top tournament of the year.
Most top tournaments, like Tata Steel, do not reveal the amount of the prize money and appearance fees of each player. They prefer to negotiate the conditions personally with each player without informing the public about the details. The average figure of the first prize at a super tournament like this is $50,000 to $100,000. The appearance fees for players rated 2700+ are usually in the $10,000 to $20,000 range. The very top stars can negotiate even better rates.
Magnus once again justified his status as a player apart and world champion. He easily won five games, lost none, edged his rating back over 2850 and finished a full point ahead of the field.
Caruana beat three (Ding Liren, Eljanov and Wei Yi) and went into the final round with good chances of catching Carlsen but lost to Tomashevsky and still finished second.
This is the first time Hou Yifan has finished joint last in Wijk aan Zee. She could easily have scored more points, gaining a close to winning position against both Karjakin and So in her first two games, losing a position even Magnus didn’t think he could win in Round 11 and then failing to beat Anish Giri in the final round by a whisker. She looked at home in elite company.
Sergey had said beforehand that this was going to be a training tournament for him and said he will be satisfied if at the end, he will finish no lower than third. He had a solitary win against Evgeny Tomashevsky and had losses to Ding Liren and Mickey Adams. He had generally lackluster play all round.
Wei Yi, The 16-year-old Chinese sensation didn’t set the world on fire in Wijk aan Zee, but he defended tenaciously, including against the World Champion, and lost only a single game to Caruana. When you consider Carlsen had lost four games and won none in Wijk aan Zee at the same age, Wei Yi’s 50 percent score for joint seventh place begins to look even more impressive.
Wesley So had a dynamic win against his nemesis Anish Giri in the first round but somehow drew all his remaining 12 games, the most draws ever in his career in one tournament. He finished at a respectable fourth place duplicating decent places here the last two years.

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