The Wimbledon of Chess
The Tata Steel Chess Tournament, formerly called the Corus Chess Tournament, until and
including 1999 called Hoogovens Chess Tournament ("hoogoven" is Dutch for "blast furnace", literally "high oven"), is held every year, usually in January, in a small town called Wijk
aan Zee, part of the larger Beverwijk (a town and municipality in the province of North Holland in the Netherlands).
From 1938 to 1967, the tournament always took place in
Beverwijk, since 1968 in Wijk aan Zee. There was no tournament in 1945. Traditionally, a pea soup is served for all players as the first course of the concluding banquet, as a memory of the hunger
winters during World War II.
The tournament has been held with several sections on top and huge amateur open, rapid, blitz, youth, senior and female events. In modern times, Wijk aan Zee has featured mostly three (all-play-all) sections
-- labelled "A", "B", and "C" -- with the A-group featuring the world's top players, though grandmasters and seniors also make up most of the B-field and a significant portion of the C-field who is especially suitable for rising juniors. Winning
the "B" or "C" section of the event typically guarantees the winner an invitation to the section above that one in the following edition.
Since 2014, the field is now pooled into two sections: a "Masters" group and a "Challengers" group
(it has become custom to invite a veteran and a lady to participate in the Tata Steel Challengers).
Just for the record: in the years 1993 and 1995, Wijk has been played in a knock-out format with a parallel back-up open for the eliminated players.
Some single days are played externally since 2014, that year in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and on the High Tech Campus Eindhoven, later the TATA Steel event visited Rotterdam and The
Hague, the Spoorwegmuseum in Utrecht, the De Kuip stadium of soccer club Feyenoord Rotterdam or the Philharmonic Hall of Haarlem to present chess as sport and as art, the Sound
and Vision (Beeld en Geluid) building in Hilversum or in The Academy Building of the University of Groningen.
The time control (TATA Steel Masters 2015) is 100 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes for 20 moves,
then 15 minutes for the remaining moves with 30 seconds cumulative increment for each move starting from the first move.
The Tata Steel Chess Tournament welcomes about two thousands of amateur players every year. Wijk aan Zee is
definitely a Chess Festival for amateurs and professionals. All rounds are open to the public, except during Corona pandemic.
It was at Wijk in 1999, when Garry Kasparov created his masterpiece against Veselin Topalov:
The strongest event in the series was played
in 2001, when nine top ten players participated (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9), Garry Kasparov won the tournament for the third time in a row outright.
First winner in 1938
were Dutch Philip Bakker and Jilling Van Dijk (in its inception with only four players, and during the early years, all of the invited participants were coming from the Netherlands). Since 1946 the tournament is international
and with the participation of players from the (former) Soviet-Union from 1960 on, it is clearly a super strong event, now regarded as most traditional chess elite supertournament (because Hastings switched to be an Open).
Recent winner in 2022 is, once again, the reigning World Champion from Norway, Magnus Carlsen.
winner with eight titles at the Hoogovens/Corus/Tata Steel tournament in its long history since 1938, is Magnus Carlsen.
Magnus Carlsen launched his chess career as a 13 years young child at Wijk aan Zee as winner of the "C" group already in 2004, subsequently achieving his first GM norm. In 2006, he was
first (alongside with Alexander Motylev) in the "B" group. In 2008 (alongside with Levon Aronian), 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, and 2022, Carlsen won the "A" group. Carlsen is a regular visitor in Wijk aan Zee and played for the 18th time (overall) in 2022.
Vishy Anand won or co-won five times, Professor Max
Euwe, Lajos Portisch, Viktor Korchnoi, and Levon Aronian won four times each (sole or shared) at Beverwijk and Wijk aan Zee respectively.
Garri Kasparov did take part and won three times in a row outright,
further thrice-winners are John Nunn, Jan Hein Donner, and Efim Geller (all shared).
Anatoly Karpov had two wins in four entries. Other
World Chess Champions Mikhail Botvinnik, Mikhail Tal, Tigran Petrosian, Boris Spassky, and Vladimir Kramnik (his shared first place with Anand in 1998 remained the
only win in thirteen participations between 1998 and 2019), as well as Paul Keres (out of two participations), did win once.
Further famous winners include also Alberic O'Kelly de
Galway, Nicolaas Cortlever, Theo van Scheltinga, Lodewijk Prins, Savielly Tartakower, Jan Hein Donner (twice), Herman Pilnik, Nicolas Rossolimo,
Vasja Pirc, Borislav Milić, Gideon Ståhlberg, Aleksandar Matanović, Friðrik Ólafsson (twice), Bent Larsen (twice), Borislav
Ivkov, Petar Trifunović, Iivo Nei (together with Paul Keres in 1964, titleless Iivo Nei got as a result the IM title by FIDE, but never the GM), Mark Taimanov, Lev
Polugaevsky (twice), Walter Browne (twice), Ljubomir Ljubojević, Gennadi Sosonko (twice), Yasser Seirawan, Jan Timman (twice), Yuri Balashov,
Ulf Andersson, Alexander Beliavsky, Nigel Short (twice), Predrag Nikolić (twice), Zoltán Ribli, Gyula Sax, Boris Gelfand, Valery
Salov (twice), Alexey Dreev, Vassily Ivanchuk, Evgeny Bareev, Péter Lékó, Veselin Topalov (twice), Teimour Radjabov, Sergey
Karjakin, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, and Fabiano Caruana.
Vasily Smyslov <could not win>
(one particpation in 1972, coming in shared 5th-7th). Two great players at Wijk aan Zee, regularly competing but not winning are Robert Hübner, taking part nine times between 1971 and 1996, and Alexei Shirov,
taking part ten times between 1993 and 2011.
Bobby Fischer (and Reshevsky, Alekhine, Capablanca, Lasker) did never take part.
Viktor Korchnoi had to wait for a longtime to be nominated by his Federation, finally he got a spot in 1968 (that was also the first tournament played at Wijk aan Zee) and did win overwhelmingly, starting his personal Hoogovens career
with 8/8, eight game wins in a row (!) from round 1 (victory vs. Nikola Padevsky) to round 8 (victory vs. Mikhail Tal). Viktor Korchnoi finished winning Wijk with 12 out of 15, three full points ahead of shared runner-up competitors Lajos Portisch, Mikhail
Tal and Vlastimil Hort. What a premiere performance!
Korchnoi also won his second and last entry for USSR at Wijk aan Zee (Hoogovens) in 1971. He won the tournament again as stateless player in
1984 (shared with Beliavsky) and in 1987 (shared with Short), coming in on a podium place (1st, 2nd or 3rd) in total seven times out of thirteen entries. As Korchnoi going around 60 (plus) years, he subsequently faced some midfield results and
one first-round knock-out elimination. In 1991, two months after his 60th anniversary, Viktor Korchnoi played and won a Candidate match against Gyula Sax at Wijk aan Zee. Korchnoi's match win is integrated in the official homepage statistics (showing automatically
then five victories in the database), of course this separate event does not count as a tournament win.
This is the second longest major recurring international
classical chess tournament in annually tradition still existing.
Wijk aan Zee
Tata Steel Chess Tournament (Wikipedia)
http://www.tatasteelchess.com (Tournament homepage)
http://www.tatasteelchess.com/history (History full stats & facts with all players and games)
by Jan van Reek, inactive)