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History of the Wijk aan Zee Chess Tournament

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The Tata Steel Chess Tournament is one of the major events on the chess calender, and takes place each year in the small town of Wijk aan Zee, located in the Netherlands. The tournament was first held in 1938, when it was known as the Hoogovens Tournament, and was played in Beverwijk. Starting in 1968, the event has taken place in Wijk aan Zee.

While the name of the tournament has changed several times, the sponsoring company has essentially remained the same throughout. Originally, the event was sponsored by Koninklijke Hoogovens, a Dutch steel and aluminum company. When Hoogovens merged with British Steel in 1999, they formed the Corus Group; consequentially, the name of the tournament was changed to the Corus Chess Tournament. Finally, when the Corus Group was purchased by Tata Steel, the tournament became the Tata Steel Chess Tournament starting in 2011.

The tournament has traditionally attracted the strongest players in the world throughout its history. Nearly all of the top players of their respective eras have played in Wijk aan Zee, with the notable exceptions of World Champions Bobby Fischer and Vasily Smyslov.

Traditionally, the tournament has been held with several sections, with this first occurring in 1953 when a women's section was added. In modern times, Wijk aan Zee has featured 3 sections -- labeled A, B, and C -- with the A-group featuring the world's top players, though grandmasters also make up most of the B field and a significant portion of the C field. Winning the B or C section of the tournament typically guarantees the winner an invitation to the section above that one in the following year.

Wijk aan Zee Tournament Winners

The following is a list of winners of the top section of the tournament in each year the tournament was held. The only year in which the tournament was canceled was 1945, due to World War II.

  • 1938 - Phillip Bakker
  • 1939 - Nicolaas Cortlever
  • 1940 - Max Euwe
  • 1941 - Arthur Wijnans
  • 1942 - Max Euwe
  • 1943 - Arnold van den Hoek
  • 1944 - Theo van Scheltinga
  • 1946 - Alberic O'Kelly de Galway
  • 1947 - Theo van Scheltinga
  • 1948 - Lodewijk Prins
  • 1949 - Savielly Tartakower
  • 1950 - Jan Hein Donner
  • 1951 - Herman Pilnik
  • 1952 - Max Euwe
  • 1953 - Nicolas Rossolimo
  • 1954 - Hans Bouwmeester, Vasja Pirc
  • 1955 - Bora Milic
  • 1956 - Gideon Stahlberg
  • 1957 - Aleksandar Matanovic
  • 1958 - Max Euwe, Jan Hein Donner
  • 1959 - Friorik Olafsson
  • 1960 - Bent Larsen, Tigran Petrosian
  • 1961 - Bent Larsen, Borislav Ivkov
  • 1962 - Petar Trifunovic
  • 1963 - Jan Hein Donner
  • 1964 - Paul Keres, Iivo Nei
  • 1965 - Lajos Portisch, Efim Geller
  • 1966 - Lev Polugaevsky
  • 1967 - Boris Spassky
  • 1968 - Viktor Korchnoi
  • 1969 - Mikhail Botvinnik, Efim Geller
  • 1970 - Mark Taimanov
  • 1971 - Viktor Korchnoi
  • 1972 - Lajos Portisch
  • 1973 - Mikhail Tal
  • 1974 - Walter Browne
  • 1975 - Lajos Portisch
  • 1976 - Ljubomir Ljubojevic, Friorik Olafsson
  • 1977 - Genna Sosonko, Efim Geller
  • 1978 - Lajos Portisch
  • 1979 - Lev Polugaevsky
  • 1980 - Walter Browne, Yasser Seirawan
  • 1981 - Genna Sosonko, Jan Timman
  • 1982 - John Nunn, Yuri Balashov
  • 1983 - Ulf Andersson
  • 1984 - Alexander Beliavsky, Viktor Korchnoi
  • 1985 - Jan Timman
  • 1986 - Nigel Short
  • 1987 - Nigel Short, Viktor Korchnoi
  • 1988 - Anatoly Karpov
  • 1989 - Viswanathan Anand, Predrag Nikolic, Zoltan Ribli, Gyula Sax
  • 1990 - John Nunn
  • 1991 - John Nunn
  • 1992 - Boris Gelfand, Valery Salov
  • 1993 - Anatoly Karpov
  • 1994 - Predrag Nikolic
  • 1995 - Alexey Dreev
  • 1996 - Vassily Ivanchuk
  • 1997 - Valery Salov
  • 1998 - Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand
  • 1999 - Garry Kasparov
  • 2000 - Garry Kasparov
  • 2001 - Garry Kasparov
  • 2002 - Evgeny Bareev
  • 2003 - Viswanathan Anand
  • 2004 - Viswanathan Anand
  • 2005 - Peter Leko
  • 2006 - Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand
  • 2007 - Levon Aronian, Teimour Radjabov, Veselin Topalov
  • 2008 - Levon Aronian, Magnus Carlsen
  • 2009 - Sergey Karjakin
  • 2010 - Magnus Carlsen
  • 2011 - Hikaru Nakamura
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