January at the Dutch coast

| Chess
| Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands

You will find my own take on the chess year 2015 on my youtube channel. Overall I’m quite satisfied having recovered well from some unusually poor performances in June in Stavanger and on Iceland in October. Winning five strong classical tournaments with elite participation in a calendar year is a personal best for me and probably quite unusual by any standards.

I looked forward to Tata Steel Chess (and nearly three weeks on the Dutch coast) more than in many years and it feels good to be in the lead with four rounds to go. It is hard to match the sensation of playing here for the first time (in the C-group) back in 2004 as an IM at 13 being able to watch the world elite playing in the same event. Now, at 25 I’m part of this great tradition for the 12th time!

As last year I had a slow start here in Wijk, but after four initial draws I’ve played several exciting games and been victorious in four of them. Early leader Fabiano Caruana is a point behind in second. On the rest day yesterday we walked along the beach over to the pier by the channel leading to Amsterdam in beautiful weather. A sunny and warm day with little wind! Two of the rounds are organized in major Dutch cities, and tomorrow I’ll play Anish Giri with the black pieces in the Utrecht Railway Museum.