Green Light For Scaled-Down Tata Steel Chess Tournament

The 83rd edition of the Tata Steel Chess tournament has finally been confirmed. Due to restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, only the 14 grandmasters in the Masters group will play. The field hasn’t been announced yet.

The Tata Steel Chess tournament will be one of the few top-level chess tournaments played over the board during the pandemic. The Norway Chess tournament in October and the Russian Championship Superfinals, currently underway in Moscow, are the only OTB tournaments with top-10 players that have been held since March.

Tata Steel said that the decision to proceed with the tournament came after a “thorough consultation” with the Dutch Chess Association, the Dutch Olympic Committee, and the regional and local governments and safety authorities.

“Naturally, severe precautions will be taken and all the corona measures that will be in place in January will be complied with,” says the press release. “The health of players, possible visitors, staff, and employees takes precedence.”

Due to the restrictions related to COVID-19, it will not be possible to host the Tata Steel Challengers or any amateur tournaments—always an important part of the chess festival. The playing hall will look very different this time.

The playing hall won’t be looking like this. Photo: Alina l’Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

This does give the organizers the opportunity to experiment with a special setup. The grandmasters will be placed in the center of the venue, and screens will separate the playing area from the rest of the hall. Whether any spectators will be allowed to attend depends on the national corona measures in place during the tournament.

2021 Tata Steel Chess playing hall
A design of what the new Tata Steel Chess playing hall will look like.

Chess On Tour, which features the grandmasters playing one round in another city, will also not be hosted this year. The tournament will take place in De Moriaan in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands, January 15-31, 2021.

Tournament director Jeroen van den Berg said: “I am very happy that the Tata Steel Chess tournament is on. So many chess events have been canceled worldwide or turned into rapid tournaments since this spring that players and chess aficionados alike are really pining for big tournaments that actually take place behind the chessboard. Well, the Tata Steel Chess tournament will be exactly catering to their tastes. And the strong field of participants will undoubtedly lead to spectacular games.”

That field of participants will be announced soon. So far, the only confirmed name is the Dutch number-one player GM Anish Giri, currently number 11 in the world ranking. will once again be providing the live broadcast of the tournament.

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