8-time Wijk aan Zee Champion Magnus Carlsen will play 4-time Champion Levon Aronian as the Tata Steel Masters begins on Saturday, January 14th. We’ve also got Caruana-Giri, Gukesh-Ding and Praggnanandhaa-Erigaisi in Round 1 as the year 2023 in chess really begins. Laurent Fressinet and Peter Svidler will be commentating here on chess24, with David Howell replacing Laurent for Round 3 onwards.
Magnus Carlsen, fresh from winning both the World Rapid and Blitz Championships, will be out to defend his title and win a 9th Tata Steel Masters, though in Levon Aronian he faces the one player in the field who’s also won multiple titles.
This will be approaching their 70th clash in classical chess, so it’s perhaps no surprise that it’s also a meeting between the two oldest players in the field, with 32-year-old Magnus younger only than Levon, who’s now 40 and comes into the event as a new father.
That’s not the only encounter between past winners, as we also have 2021 Champion Jorden van Foreest facing 2017 Champion Wesley So. That Jorden is the lowest-rated player in the field tells you all you need to know about the strength of the event, while it’ll be fascinating to see Wesley back in action. Despite winning the 2022 Global Chess.com Championship he explained that he’s focused on trying to improve his classical results.
Fabiano Caruana vs. Anish Giri feels like a clash of champions, but while Fabi won in 2020, local hero Anish has fallen foul of the introduction of tiebreaks for 1st place. Previously all players tied for 1st were considered co-champions, but in 2018 Anish lost a playoff to Magnus, while in 2021 he was defeated by Jorden. Anish has been getting in the mood for the event…
The focus is again likely to be on the young stars in the Challengers, with 13-year-old US GM Abhimanyu Mishra (the holder of the record as the youngest ever grandmaster) taking on 17-year-old Dutch talent Eline Roebers, who matched Pia Cramling’s 2532 performance on Board 1 but just missed out on individual gold at the 2022 Olympiad in Chennai.
Perhaps the player with the greatest chance of forcing his way into the Masters in 2024, either by winning the Challengers or rising fast in other events, is 17-year-old Javokhir Sindarov, another member of the fantastically strong Uzbek team. He begins his campaign with a tough test against Alexander Donchenko.
The games kick off at 14:00 CET (8am ET, 18:30 IST), but for most of the world they’ll be visible from 14:15, since a 15-minute anti-cheating delay has been added. Don’t miss the first big tournament of 2023! Tata Steel Masters | Tata Steel Challengers