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Looking Back: The Great Wijk aan Zee

Feb 20, 2016
StaffCoachWGM 2263
Game Viewer » Widget

Who doesn’t know about the Orange Color Country and its annual tournament? Although, there are tournaments that grab our attention and tournaments that we barely notice, there are also tournaments that the whole chess world eagerly awaits and wishes to attend.

The Wijk aan Zee tournament clearly belongs to this last category. One can hardly find a chess player who wouldn’t like to travel to Netherlands at this time and watch live the top players competing! One logically so, one would hardly find an ice-hockey fan who wouldn’t want to visit the Stanley Cup game!



Before we take a look at look at the winner´s game, let’s explore the history of this tournament. It feels like only after we explore the tournament tradition, we are better equipped to appreciate the prestige of this event. Additionally, the tournament itself complicates its recognition as it was organized in two different locations in Netherlands and under three different names.

A little of the Tournament History

The very first event originated in 1938 in Beverwijk, a province of North Holland, and was called Hoogovens Beverwijk after the main sponsor Dutch steel and aluminium producer Koninklijke Hoogovens. The tournament continued its organization until the year of 1945 in which it had to cancel its tournament due to war.



However, the following year, in 1946, Hoogovens Beverwijk invited foreign players and, for the first time in its history, became an international tournament. Some of the most notable winners of Hoogovens Beverwijk include: Max Euwe, Savielly Tartakower, Fridrick Olafsson, Bent Larsen, Paul Keres, Lajos Portisch, Lev Polugaevski, and Boris Spassky.

In 1968 the tournament was moved from Beverwijk to Wijk aan Zee, and called Hoogovens Wijk aan Zee. This is the location in which the tournament currently resides. Amongst the winners of the Hoogovens Wijk aan Zee tournament we find names such as: Victor Korchnoi, Michael Botvinnik, Mikhail Tal, Walter Brown, Nigel Short, John Nunn, Anatoly Karpov, and Garry Kasparov.



In 1999 Koninklijke Hoogovens merged with British Steel forming Corus Group, and thus in 2000 the tournament was once again renamed to Corus Tournament.



The last change within this sponsoring company happened in 2007 when it was acquired by TATA Steel. Three years later, in 2010, the Wijk ann Zee tournament was once again retitled and until now remains as TATA Steel Chess tournament.


System of the Tournament

Over the years, the tournament changed not only its name and location, but also its structure. It started as a close 4-player national tournament and later expanded to 18 players. Simultaneously the organizers held additional events such as a Women’s tournament and a Master’s Reserved tournament. The Masters’ tournament was later reduced to 14 players and Challengers’ tournament substituted for the Master’s Reserved.

In several years, there were two Challengers’ tournaments. One rule that has not changed in the tournament comprises of the Challengers tournament winner’s right to be invited to the upper level tournament –either to the Master’s when one wins the Challenger’s A tournament, or to the Challenger’s A when one wins the Challenger’s B tournament.

TATA Steel Chess Tournament 2016

The current structure of TATA Steel 2016 was a top level 14-player round robin Masters tournament, a 14-player round robin Challenger’s tournament, and three open Amateur’s tournaments of varied length.



The main playing hall of the TATA Steel Masters 2016.

Let’s now take a look at a very interesting game of the winner of the Master’s tournament – the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen against the top British player Michael Adams. The game is especially instructive in showing how to play a position with an imbalanced material. Additionally, we will focus on the topic of EXCHANGES – when to make them and when to avoid them.


Points to Remember:
1) Exchanges either profit one player or the other. It almost never profits both.
2) When losing a material, aim for complicated positions. Especially imbalanced positions such as knight against a rook may bring strong resistance



Magnus Carlsen upholded his title from the previous year and won TATA Steel 2016. On this picture Magnus competes against Shakhriyarn Mamedyarov while Fabiano Caruana is observing a game from a distance.

For more information about the events, games, videos and photo gallery, visit the official website



A peaceful yet competitive Wijk aan Zee which is situated in the province of North Holland. Will you visit the tournamnet in the next year?


Tips For Coaches:

1. Arrange field trips to top level chess tournaments, such as Wijk aan Zee. Although this opportunity is rare, it provides long lasting effects on children, their chess, and the way they perceive the game.

2. Arrange field trips to other strong tournaments. Seeing the deep thinking adult players, feeling the tension of a tournament, and hearing nothing but silence increases children’s understanding about the value and importance of chess. It’s not about playing fast and moving with pieces here and back. It’s about thinking. It’s about organizing one’s pieces to do their best

3. Take advantage of side activities during some events! For example Chessity conducted a workshop for kids during Tata Steel and judging by Janiro’s blog, they had a lot of fun! Great job Chessity Team!

Thoughts? Leave a response below! I will be glad to learn from your insights and answer your questions.

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