Chess Is The Name Of The Game At The 85th Tata Steel 2023 Chess Tournaments

It has been a rough first month of 2023 for this writer, what with first the flu, followed by a bad back, and then a tooth extraction. On the bright side it did give me time to watch much of the action emanating from the country still thought of as Holland by we older players.

In the top section of the 2023 Tata Steel Chess tournament played in the city of Wijk aan Zee, in The Netherlands, there were only two undefeated players, Anish Giri,

and Wesley So.

Wesley So | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Giri plays under the flag of The Netherlands, which will surely make the nonpareil Chess journalist, Diederik Johan Mathijs ten Geuzendam,

editor-in-chief of New In Chess, an international chess magazine with readers in 116 countries, a happy writer. GM Giri won four games, two more than GM Wesley So, who plays under the American flag, and deservedly earned the title. Nodirbek Abdusattorov,

of Uzbekistan, finished in a tie for second place after losing his last round game to Jordan Van Foreest, who finished at minus one.

Jordan Van Foreest vs. Vincent Keymer (

Current World Chess Champ Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen missed a great chance against Praggnanandhaa | photo: Lennart Ootes, Tata Steel Chess

of Norway also finished in a tie for second place, which was quite an achievement after losing with black to Giri in round 4 and Abdusattorov in the following round. Magnus scored the most wins, five, and earns the comeback of the tournament award.

The Tata Steel Challengers was won by GM Alexander Donchenko,

Alexander Donchenko (

who plays under the German flag. Donchenko won eight games, with one loss. Mustafa Yilmaz, of Turkey, finished second, a full point back, with six wins and only one loss, which came at the hands of Donchenko. Javokhir Sindarov, from Uzbekistan, finished clear third while winning five games, and losing only one, to Yilmaz.

It could have been better for Donchenko but for a huge hiccup in an even position versus GM Erwin L’Ami:

Donchenko vs L’Ami Position after 53…Rb5 (

The best thing about the tournament was the fighting spirit displayed by most of the players. For the most part all games were played to a conclusion, which is how Chess should be played. The players had their knives out, and the blades had obviously been sharpened before sitting down to fight! It is unfortunate this tournament, like most tournaments played at the house that Rex built in St. Louis, is one of the only tournaments in which short draws do not proliferate. For Chess to survive that must be changed.

One of the takeaways from the tournament was the poor endgame play. One Chess fan posited the reason to be all of the quick play games which proliferate today. Another mentioned all the “games not played,” meaning the multitude of short draws agreed to these daze… It is extremely difficult to learn how to play the endgame if a player regularly agrees to short draws. It would be better for the younger player to LOSE an endgame, rather than agree to a draw, because after the loss he would have something to study. A player can replay all of the endgames published in textbooks, or found online, but there is nothing like reviewing one of you own games to have the lesson indelibly etched into your brain!

Ding Liren,

Anish Giri has become a 2800-killer | photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit, Tata Steel Chess

from China, is to play the Russian, Ian Nepomniachtchi,

for the title of World Chess Champion in less than three months. Until the last few days there was no venue for the match. The Russian, Nepo, suffered a meltdown versus Magnus Carlsen in the previous match for the World Championship. No matter which player wins the match, Chess will be the loser. Ding could only win one game while losing three. His performance rating was only 2678. His current FIDE rating was 2811 prior to the Tata Steel event. The poor form displayed in this event bodes ill for the match and it appears to have dropped Ding into third place on the Live Rating List, putting him behind Nepo for second place.

The tournaments were followed wire to wire, and immensely enjoyed. Much will be written about these tournaments in the coming days, but not by this writer, who will leave it to the professionals, like my friend Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, one of the best Chess writer’s to have ever to write about the Royal Game.


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