The First Major Chess Tournament of 2023

This set a whole new tone for what 2023 chess will look like.



Magnus Carlsen has long been a chess champion, but he did not win the tournament.

Tyler Smith, Staff Writer

The Tata Steel Chess Tournament is one of the most prestigious events in the chess world, attracting the best players from around the globe. The 2023 edition of the tournament, held from January 13 to 29 in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, saw intense competition, with some of the world’s top players vying for the title.

Excitement brewing as the Tata Steel 2023 Chess tournament begins. (Tata Steel Chess)

The tournament featured two main sections: the Masters and the Challengers. The Masters section included 14 of the world’s best players, including the reigning world champion, Magnus Carlsen. Along with him were several other notable figures such as Anish Giri, India’s biggest chess prodigy, Fabiano Caruana, the United States’ highest rated player, and Nodirbek Abdusattorov, an eighteen year old chess prodigy from Uzbekistan, rated seventeenth. The Challengers section featured 14 up-and-coming players who had earned their spot in the tournament through various qualifying events. Some of these players include Amin Tabatabaei, ranked sixty-one, as well as Jovkhir Sindarov, the fourth youngest person to ever become a grandmaster in chess, who is currently ranked at eighty-one.

The Masters section began as expected, with five out of seven games being drawn. However, it was Ding Liren (Rank #3 global) and Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Rank #17 global) who emerged as the favorites, winning their games against Gukesh D. and Richárd Rapport, respectively. These victories, seemingly somewhat insignificant at the time, would be great foreshadowing for what was to come.

The second round would bear similar results, with another five out of seven draws. Unsurprisingly, the two winners of this round would be Magnus Carlsen, and Anish Giri, over the players Vincent Keymer, and Gukesh D. At this point the tournament seemed to be going exactly as expected.

Magnus Carlsen fighting a losing position against runner-up Abdusattorov. (Tata Steel Chess)

The next two rounds however, would draw eyes from the entire chess community. Magnus Carlsen would go on to lose his games during rounds three and four. This may not sound crazy at first, but when you factor in the fact that nearly sixty percent of chess matches at this level are draws, and that Magnus’ chess rating states he should be winning around fifty percent of the games he plays, this event is borderline catastrophic. Nearly eight years had passed since Magnus lost two games in a row.

Many people, in response to this event, began claiming that this was the beginning of the end for Magnus, that it was all downhill from here, and who can blame them? At the end of 2022, Magnus suffered a loss against U.S. player Hans Niemann, who was rated below 2700 at the time, compared to Magnus at ~2850. Magnus’ suspicion of cheating afterwards placed a seed of doubt into many people’s minds as to whether or not Magnus was simply past his prime.

However, Magnus would manage to rise from the ashes, placing third overall in the end, picking up five draws and three wins after his second loss. He certainly took the falter as a wake up call, as he played the dominant, aggressive chess that all of his fans and opponents expect.

This was Anish Giri’s first ever win at Tata Steel. (Tata Steel Chess)

In the end it would be Anish Giri to take the trophy after a dominant game versus Richárd Rapport. In second was the surprising showing from the young Uzbek, Nodirbek Abdusattorov.

Overall, the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023 was a thrilling competition, with intense competition, surprising performances, and plenty of excitement for fans. It served as a reminder that although chess is a game in which the better player wins, better players are bound to have off days. The tournament also showed that the future of chess is bright, with many talented players rising through the ranks and challenging the established champions.