Happy New Year & Tata Steel Challengers

We have arrived in Wijk aan zee and today will  be the first round of the Tata Steel Masters and Challengers Chess Tournament. There are also many amateur events happening and everyone gets to play in the same hall. The round for Gawain’s game will start at 13.30 local time and is played in the De Moriaan sports hall, a venue that gets a complete revamp for this tournament.

Wijk the chess village

This is a very long tournament with a 14 player single round robin, 3 rest days and arriving a day and a half before play we will spend 17 nights in Wijk aan zee. Wijk aan zee is best described as a small village, there are several restaurants, a couple of hotels and a small Spar supermarket which is also the only place you can withdraw cash. I think in my time here I will venture out to Haarlem and Amsterdam which isn’t so far away.

We headed to the opening ceremony last night which was held at the Tata Steel Factory conference center about 15 minutes drive away. We caught a Double Decker bus as a group and headed upstairs. Unfortunately
the bus wasn’t so well designed and many Grandmasters hit their head on the roof! It was very funny and I tried to get something on video but didn’t quite catch the moment. It was even funnier when heading back to Wijk and some GMs forgot about hitting their head and smacked their head again. Hopefully their brain cells will survive the tournament 🙂

Spotted at the Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony was one of the best I’ve been to in a long time. There was entertainment from Horizon a Dutch musical group who will be performing in the musical “Chess” in April as well as a guy who could do tricks with a football (I’ll try and find a clip of him but his name was very dutch and not so easy for me to remember). The ceremony was more for the Masters as the Challengers did their draw the day before but it was a fun affair. Afterwards we had a lovely meal with GM Yasser Seirawan, GM Nils Grandelius  and GM Eric Hansen.

The weather here has been erratic to say the least stormy one minute then the sun shining brightly! I’m here for the whole tournament and of course playing a supporting role – hopefully I’m more help than not. I will also be playing in the 3 round weekday tournament.

I’m having some website issues at the moment but hopefully I’ll resolve that later today and I’ll be able to add some pictures to my post! I’ll try my best to keep you updated during this tournament but there probably won’t be much in terms of chess contents! I’ll probably be watching the official commentary or chess24 – I haven’t yet decided. You can check out the games here.