Tata Steel Chess Tournament Marred By Officials Lunacy

For the second year in a row the Tata Steel Chess tournament has been marred by the ineptitude of the officials. This is shocking because, “Known as the “Wimbledon of Chess”, the Tata Steel Chess Tournament is one of the most prestigious events on the international chess calendar. It attracts the best chess Grandmasters in the world, along with amateur players, live event visitors and online visitors from around the world.” (https://duckduckgo.com/?q=tata+steel+&t=newext&atb=v270-1&ia=web&iai=https%3A%2F%2Fchess24.com%2Fen%2Fread%2Fnews%2Ftata-steel-7-dubov-mask-forfeit-overshadows-magnus-move&pn=1)

The morning was spent searching for answers on the internet. The result was a dearth of information concerning the latest debacle has become the Tata Steel Chess tournament. The tournament was formerly known as “Wijk aan Zee” because that is the name of the city in the Netherlands, formerly known as “Holland,” where the famous, now infamous Chess tournament has been held for decades. Tata Steel changed the name of the tournament in an attempt to gain more publicity for the company. For the second consecutive year everyone involved with the Chess tournament has brought Tata Steel more publicity than could have been imagined. Unfortunately, all of the publicity has been negative because again the tournament has been turned into a farce. This writer has completely lost interest in the tournament, and I am not alone.

Chess.com purchased the rights to broadcast the event via the internet and the website has led the way in covering the event. In an article by Peter Doggers, “Tata Steel Chess R3: Vidit Defends Brilliantly To Grab Sole Lead,” (https://www.chess.com/news/view/tata-steel-chess-2022-round-3), one learns, “While the third round saw some lovely, tactical chess and it felt like the 84th Tata Steel Chess Tournament was really taking off, behind the scenes the organizers had other worries. Even without the presence of amateurs, there’s always a risk of a Covid outbreak when holding an event in the middle of the pandemic. Like last year, players, coaches, and crew are required to wear face masks (players can take them off while at the board) and are tested regularly. So far, none of the players tested positive for the coronavirus, knock on wood.”

“However, before the start of the round, two seconds of players tested positive and went into quarantine. The organizers informed Chess.com that, according to close contact tracing, the players for whom the seconds work have been retested as a precaution and tested negative for Covid-19.”

“One of the two seconds is GM Ramesh R.B., who assists GM Praggnanandhaa R. in Wijk aan Zee. The Indian coach revealed on Twitter that he had tested positive. Luckily, from the very start, his pupil has been one of the few players who is wearing his face mask at the board all the times.”

The part about Praggnanandhaa being “lucky” to have been “…one of the few players who is wearing his face mask at the board all the times,” is bull excrement! Regular readers know that “I Took The Vaccine” (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2021/04/28/i-took-the-vaccine/). In addition, I have also taken the third, or “booster” shot, because at my age I like to hedge my bets. That said, it is, or should be common knowledge that wearing a mask does not prevent one from obtaining Covid, but it does lessen the odds of imparting it to anyone else. If one wears the best mask, the N-95, there is still a 5% chance that person will be infected; that’s the “95” part of the name. If one compares the N-95 with the flimsy mask being worn by GM Praggnanandhaa, there is a much larger chance of obtaining, or spreading the virus because there are wide open areas around the mask making it virtually useless in combating the virus.

Peter Doggers concludes his comments with, “With the high transmissibility of the omicron variant and the Netherlands registering another record of new corona cases this Monday, it wouldn’t be unlikely that more cases will pop up in Wijk aan Zee as well. Let’s hope not, and let’s quickly move to the games.”

Covid is everywhere and the Netherlands obviously abounds with the virus.

In his next article, “Tata Steel Chess 2022 R7: Carlsen Grabs Sole Lead; Dubov Forfeits Game,” by PeterDoggers (Updated: Jan 23, 2022, 7:26 AM/Chess.com News), Mr. Doggers writes, “GM Daniil Dubov forfeited his game vs. GM Anish Giri as the Russian GM refused to play with a face mask.

Tata Steel Chess 2022 R7: Carlsen Grabs Sole Lead; Dubov Forfeits Game
Anish Giri wouldn’t see his opponent Daniil Dubov arriving at the board today. Photo: Tata Steel Chess.

The organizers had requested him to do so after someone in his inner circle had tested positive for Covid-19.” Then he adds, “Last year, the organizers managed to hold their tournament in Wijk aan Zee in the middle of the pandemic without any issues.” (https://www.chess.com/news/view/tata-steel-chess-2022-round-7)

This is patently absurd. Where the hell was Peter Doggers last year during the Tata Steel tournament? How quickly they forget…

Tata Steel 2021 Drama – Alireza Firouzja vs Radoslaw Wojtaszek – R13

Hi Friends,

Extremely disrespectful and very unprofessional from the organizers to distract Alireza during the final game. They asked him to move! Alireza blundered soon after that discussion, and the game ended in a draw.

Kourosh A (https://chessmood.com/forum/main-channel/alireza-firouzja-vs-radoslaw-wojtaszek-tata-steel-chess-2021-r13)

Mr. Doggers continues in the aforementioned article: “In hindsight, one could add miraculously. This year, with the highly contagious omicron variant raging, it was sheer impossible.”

“After the two cases of corona in the morning of the third round, when two seconds (coaches) of players tested positive, there was another case on Saturday morning: someone close to Dubov. Awaiting a PCR test result for Dubov, the organizers requested the Russian GM to wear a mask during play, even though the general rule at the tournament is that face masks are obligatory everywhere except when sitting at the board. Dubov refused to do so and called it “a matter of principle.” When he hadn’t arrived at the board half an hour into the round, the game was declared a win by forfeit for Giri.”

“Unsurprisingly, the whole situation was widely discussed on social media. One question was whether it was communicated to the players beforehand that the mask would be a necessity at the board as well in case of close contact to a Covid-positive person. Another interesting point that was made was whether the organizers could have postponed the Dubov-Giri game to the next rest day.”

GM Sergey Karjakin, who had criticized Dubov recently for helping Carlsen in the world championship,

this time supported his compatriot as he tweeted after finishing his own game:

“Robert Moens (Tata Steel Communications & Public Affairs) commented to Chess.com: “This specific situation wasn’t discussed beforehand, no. However, the players’ contract does include a clause that the organizers can take the necessary measures in case unexpected situations regarding Covid arise. Because the tournament doctor deemed it unwise for Dubov to play without a face mask, we as organizers made this request to Dubov, who fully understood our decision but decided not to play the game out of principle. We did not consider postponing the game because Dubov could have played today, albeit with a face mask. It was his decision not to play.”

“The situation currently is that Dubov can continue playing the tournament without a face mask in case the results of his latest PCR and antigen tests come out negatively. If he gets tested positive, he won’t be able to play any more games and all his results will be removed from the tournament crosstable because the tournament wasn’t halfway through yet for him.” (https://www.chess.com/news/view/tata-steel-chess-2022-round-7)

This is all a crock of excrement! None of the crapola emanating from the mouth of Robert Moens matters. The bottom line is “…the organizers requested the Russian GM to wear a mask during play, even though the general rule at the tournament is that face masks are obligatory everywhere except when sitting at the board.” (!!!)

The organizers and officials (in other words, the Head Honchos What Be In Charge) had absolutely no right to “ask” Dubov to wear a mask. If not asked to wear a mask Danill would have been at the board, ready to play Chess. If one player was asked to wear a mask then ALL PLAYERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN ASKED TO WEAR A MASK! The problem is that the best Chess players in the world cannot come together as a group, like, for example, the Major League Baseball players union, to combat the ding-bats in charge of Chess! What top level Chess needs is a Chess Spartacus.

Certainly the players know that what affects the one also affects the many. Magnus Carlsen is currently the nonpareil Chess player and should be the de facto leader of all Grandmasters. What affects his contemporaries also affects Mr. Carlsen. If Magnus Carlsen also refused to play after learning what had happened to one of his fellow Grandmasters it would have reverberated, sending shock waves throughout the Chess community. Instead, Magnus swallowed the bile and meekly and subserviently acquiesced to the ridiculous “new rule” made up as the organizers reacted to something that should have been foreseen, and for which they should have been prepared. Those in charge of the Tata Steel Chess tournament should award a full point to Grandmaster Danill Dubov, and then we may see the Chess Champion of the World react. Then again, maybe not…

Cowardly Chess

I had not intended to post today because there are book reviews to write and games being played all over the world to follow, which is marvelous. Unfortunately, some of the games being contested are anything but marvelous. For example, take this just ended game:

Nils Grandelius (2670)


vs Radoslaw Wojtaszek (2687)


Prague International Chess Festival Masters 2021 round 05

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. a4 Bd7 10. Bc2 Re8 11. Re1 h6 12. Nbd2 Bf8 13. h3 Rb8 14. axb5 axb5 15. Nf1 b4 16. Ng3 bxc3 17. bxc3 Ra8 18. Rb1 d5 19. Bb3 dxe4 20. Nxe4 Be6 21. Be3 Nd5 22. Bd2 Nb6 23. Bc2 Nd5 24. Ba4 Bd7 25. Bb3 Nf6 26. Ng3 Bd6 27. Qc2

The game ended after: 27…Be6 28. Ba4 Bd7 29. Bb3 Be6 30. Ba4 Bd7 31. Bb3 ½-½

The pawn structure is unbalanced and White has a slight edge. You know it, I know it, the players know it, and so does the Stockfish program at ChessBomb.com. Do you think Magnus Carlsen,


famous for grinding out wins from a position such as the above, would have agreed to make a three time repetition? Me neither, which is why these two cowardly lions

are local heroes and not playing for the World Championship as is Magnus Carlsen.

What if Chess decided to adopt the Ko rule seen in the magnificent game of Go, or Wei Chi? (https://senseis.xmp.net/?Ko) Repeating a position is simply not allowed, which is one of the reasons Go is a much better game than is Chess. The idea of offering a draw is anathema when playing Go!

What if only 1/4 point was awarded to each player in the above game, and in each and every game that was drawn? How many “buddy-buddy” draws would be seen then? Just asking…

What if a Chess player only received payment for winning? Just wondering…

They Bad

In an interview with Albert Silver appearing on Chessbase, former World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov said, “…the quality of the players has worsened. In the autumn, Carlsen and Anand were playing, and I came to the final. The FIDE Vice President Georgios Makropoulos came to me and said: “Judging by today’s games, even an out-of-shape Karpov would beat either of them…”

It is natural for older people to consider things having been better “back in the day.” This is common in all walks of life. For example, many years ago I worked for a company owned by a former Delta Airlines employee. The company transported vehicles to nine different Southern states, and many of the drivers were former Delta employees who had retired. To a man they all agreed Delta was a better company “back in the day.” Upon hearing this for the umptheenth time, I said, “Maybe it was just a different company back then.” This was met with glares and stares, and I was shunned. A short time later I mentioned one of my girlfriends had been a stewardess for Delta in the early ’70’s, and another had worked for only Delta, and had done so for decades, adding, “Seems like it was a better company back then.” Everyone smiled, clapped me on the back, and things were right with the world of James Auto Transport!

That said, I must agree with Mr. Karpov. The matches for the World Chess Championship this decade have left much to be desired. Back in the day we looked forward to the upcoming WC match with much anticipation. This is no longer the case. I am having trouble recalling the last interesting match for the World Chess Championship.

I must also agree with the former WCC about the quality of the play of the current top players. I am not exactly certain, but it could be the influence of the computer chess programs in that they have humbled the Grandmasters, or, shall we say, taken them down a peg, or two. My friend the Discman said something, published on this blog, some time ago, “GM’s used to be thought of as Gods.” Now the Gods of chess come with names like Komodo, and Stockfish.

As an example of what I mean let me refer you to the coverage on Chessbase of the most recent “elite” tournament, the Grenke Chess Classic in Baden-Baden. The players were having much trouble converting winning endgames. I watched as GM Etienne Bacrot, who had been winning for quite sometime, came completely unglued trying to push home his advantage versus GM Michael Adams. (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grenke-rd5-carlsen-back-in-the-lead) This was one of many butchered endgames in this particular tournament. Unfortunately, it is not the only recent tournament about which the same can be said.

What makes it worse is that the players make statements like, “We are so much better than the players of the last century that even when they were on top of their game the best players of today would wipe the floor with them, and we have got the numbers to prove it.” OK, I am paraphrasing here, but you get the idea. Their ratings are higher and the best players of today do seem to strut around like Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in the movie Silver Streak, saying, “That’s right, we bad, WE BAD!” Then they go out and draw another winnable endgame. For example, “…while Adams could not convert his advantage against Aronian.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grenke-rd6-anand-only-win)

Sometimes it is even worse than the above. Consider what was written after the headline, “GRENKE Rd4: Two Blunders, Two Black wins.”
“What a round! Two major blunders defined the two victories, games that were on the verge of being wildly interesting and dissipated into a win for Black as in both cases the White side simply missed Black’s resources or overestimated his own attacking chances. Carlsen bounced back with a win over Anand in a stonewall, while Baramidze basically gave Naiditsch the tournament lead.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grenke-rd4-two-blunders-two-black-wins-2)

What a round, indeed. Baramidze failed to answer a question every chess player should ask himself before making a move, “Am I leaving anything en prise?” He actually put a Knight en prise, giving Naiditsch a piece for nothing. Amazing….Granted, GM Baramidze is clearly not a Super GM, but still…

Not to be outdone, former World Human Chess Champion Vishy Anand gave his opponent that day, World Human Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen, a full ROOK! I kid you not. The game is annotated by GM Alejandro Ramirez at the Chessbase website. (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grenke-rd4-two-blunders-two-black-wins-2) Anand should give some serious consideration to retiring. If he continues to play he will only continue to embarrass himself, and tarnish his reputation.

That’s right, they bad, THEY BAD!

Speaking of GM Alejandro Ramirez…Annotating the game between Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Magnus Carlsen from round three of the Tata Steel tournament, after 1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 f5 4.b4 Bg7 5.Bb2 a5 6.b5 a4!?, Alejandro writes, “This brave pawn will be weak, but it does restrict White a little. Carlsen has to be very careful not to lose it though.”

Come on! I know Magnus is the World Human Chess Champion, but I do not need a 3300 rated program to tell me this move is bad, REAL BAD! And this is not an isolated example. Everyone in the chess world, except maybe the VP of the GCA, is aware of the “howler,” Kd2, Magnus played against Viswanathan Anand in their most recent WCC match. Magnus was saved because Vishy sat there for one minute without asking himself the first question every chess player, other than the VP of the GCA, asks himself after his opponent makes a move, which is, “Why did my opponent make that move?” But what about the move Carlsen played as White against Fabiano Caruana in a Bishop’s Opening last year at the Sinquefield Cup?

Carlsen vs Caruana

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 Bb4+ 6. c3 Bd6 7. Bg5 dxe4 8. dxe4 h6 9. Bh4 Qe7 10. Nbd2 Nbd7 11. Bg3 Bc7 12. O-O Nh5 13. h3?

Once again, I do not need a computer program to tell me how bad is this move. This move stinks. It is the kind of move that may be played by the VP of the GCA, a triple digit player. I give the rest of the game for the record, and as proof as to what kind of chess is being passed off a being better than that played “back in the day.” 13…Nxg3 14. fxg3 Nc5 15. Bxf7+ Kxf7 16. Nxe5+ Kg8 17. Ng6 Qg5 18. Rf8+ Kh7 19. Nxh8 Bg4 20. Qf1 Nd3 21. Qxd3 Rxf8 22. hxg4 Qxg4 23. Nf3 Qxg3 24. e5+ Kxh8 25. e6 Bb6+ 26. Kh1 Qg4 27. Qd6 Rd8 28. Qe5 Rd5 29. Qb8+ Kh7 30. e7 Qh5+ 31. Nh2 Rd1+ 32. Rxd1 Qxd1+ 33. Nf1 Qxf1+ 34. Kh2 Qg1+ 0-1

Keep in mind the current human WCC backed into the match in which he became Chess Champ of the World. In the biggest game of his career, a game he had to win, Magnus Carlsen LOST. He was saved when GM Vladmir Kramnik also lost, giving the right to Carlsen to play a match with an old, tired, and obviously worn out toothless Tiger. I can still picture the young Magnus sitting on his knees in his chair like a little boy at a weekend swiss as his time dwindled. This man could never stand toe to toe with the Giants of the past. They would wipe the floor with him, and then eat him alive.