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Why the Tata Steel Chess Tournament is so special

Jan 5, 2017
StaffCoach 1312

The Tata Steel Chess Tournament is coming up! The event in Wijk aan Zee (Holland), to which Chessity is a partner, is famously known as the 'Wimbledon of chess'. 

What is it that makes the Tata Steel Chess Tournament so special?

To start with, the tournament has a long history. This year's tournament is the 79th edition of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament. It is one the most important chess event in the international calender.

Each year, the tournament manages to attract the very best chess players in the world. But there is also room for promising youngsters. World champion and five times tournament winner Magnus Carlsen, for instance, was only 13 years old when he first participated (and promptly won the C-group).

The 2017 edition brings no less than five top 10-players to the stage. There's Magnus Carlsen, who only skipped Tata Steel in 2014 since he first enrolled in 2004. But also Wesley So, Levon Aronian (four-times winner!), Sergey Karjakin and Anish Giri. The average rating of the Master Group is 2753 (if you are not familiour with ratings; this is really high).

And then there is the Challenger Group, in which 13 grandmasters and 1 international master will compete. Average rating: 2592. Amongst the players in this group are the young Dutch champion Jorden van Foreest (17 years old) and Chessity's 'own' Erwin l'Ami.

Moreover, the Tata Steel Chess Tournament is probably the most strenuous chess event. The 14 players compete in 13 rounds, a format that is unique in the world of top chess. Other elite chess tournaments usually have only 9 rounds. 


So, Tata Steel Chess is an important tournament for top players. Is that all?

A unique aspect of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament is the fact that regular club players are welcome to play in Wijk aan Zee as well. More than two thousand chess players compete in two three-day tournaments and a nine-day event. The amateur chess players play their games in the same space where the professionals play!

In 1938, the Hoogovens Tournament started as a modest local tournament with 44 players

Has the tournament always been a big event?

No, it hasn't. In 1938, the Hoogovens Tournament started as a modest local chess tournament with only 44 players, located in the city of Beverwijk. Sponsor Hoogovens is the same as today's Tata Steel, but changed names to Corus and later Tata Steel due to a merger and take-over, the chess tournament changing names alongside. In a few years, the tournament grew and started to attract chess players from all over the Netherlands, amongst whom former Dutch world champion Max Euwe in 1940. The first international tournament was held in 1946. This was one of the first European international chess tournaments after World War II. It would be another fifteen years before the tournament started to attract the world's top players. In 1968, the event was moved to the Dutch seaside village Wijk aan Zee. Since then, it is popularly called 'Wijk aan Zee' or 'Wijk', since the former name 'Hoogovens' is difficult to pronounce for non-Dutch speakers. 

It is tue that Wijk aan Zee transforms into a real chess village during the tournament?

The seaside village (2200 inhabitants) fills up with thousands of chess players and chess enthusiasts. Pop-up chess shops open up, the café's are filled with chess players analysing their games, playing some friendly chess or watching live transmissions of the Master and Challenger tournaments. 

As well as the tournament itself, the village hosts a range of additional chess-related activities taking place to support the main tournament. To name a few: school chess tournaments, simultaneaus tournaments, live commentary and a special Kids Weekend, supported by Chessity. All this creates a very special and vibrant chess atmosphere in Wijk aan Zee.

Since 2013, in addition to the main event in Wijk aan Zee, two rounds are played in satellite locations. This year, the Master Group will play in Rotterdam (January 19th, Feyenoord Stadium) and in Haarlem (January 25th, concert hall Philharmonie). In previous years, round were played in the Rijksmuseum and Science Center Nemo in Amsterdam and the Railway Museum in Utrecht.

What is Chessity's role during the Tata Steel Chess Tournament?

The event's main sponsor Tata Steel spots important simularities between chess and making steel. Both require strategic thinking to find creative solutions to complex challenges. Chessity and Tata Steel share a vision in believing in the positive influence on the game of chess on children. That is why the event hosts a number of special kids' activities, during which Chessity specialists will lend their expertise in chess teaching to give chess clinics and workshops and other chess actitivities for children. A real novelty is the chess commentary for kids: in simple language, aimed at beginners, Chessity professionals will explain what is going on in the Master games and how children can use these techniques in their own games.

Click here to find out about all children's activities and where to meet Chessity during Tata Steel Chess.

Find out how Chessity helps you with the best online chess learning software or ask us for more information.

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Wimbledon has its strawberries and cream tradion. What is Tata Steel Chess' culinary tradition?

Tata Steel Chess' culinary tradition has a less festive background than Wimbledon's luxureous strawberries. After World War II, food shortages were still a problem in Europe, so the post-tournament banquet featured an inexpensive but nutrious pea soup, called 'snert' or 'erwtensoep' in Dutch. In subsequent years, pea soup has always been served at the concluding banquet, a tradition continuing to this day.

Are you in for a taste of snert and Tata Steel Chess? Follow this link for a recipe for real Dutch erwtensoep. It tastes better than it looks and is great for cold winter days.

There is a champion in everyone. Let talent blossom with Chessity

It is Chessity’s mission to let everybody experience the benefits of chess, especially kids. As part of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament program, we can reach a lot of children at various locations and in different ways, such as chess workshops and chess commentary for kids. We hope to inspire as many children, parents, chess players, chess coaches and teachers as possible to pick up on chess for children to unlock their potential.

Interested in teaching chess?

Find out how Chessity helps you with the best online chess learning curriculum or ask us for more information.

Please contact me

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