The 76th edition of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament was officially opened on Friday afternoon at the Tata Steel headquarters in IJmuiden, the Netherlands. A spectacular ceremony included a stage performance of actors who recreated the scene of the world famous painting The Night Watch, as a reference to the 4th round that will be held in the Rijksmuseum.
In recent years the opening ceremony was held in a huge white tent that was placed right in the center of Wijk aan Zee, but budget cuts forced the organizers to do without the tent. Therefore, the location of the Tata Steel tournament's opening ceremony was Congress Center of Tata Steel in IJmuiden.
It was Dook van den Boer, Director Strip Products Mainland Europe at Tata Steel Europe,who was the first to address the players, sponsors and friends of the Tata Steel tournament on Friday afternoon. Whereas his speech will be mostly remembered because of the many mispronunciations of players' names ("Caruani", "Gefland"), Van den Boer did what he had really come for: declaring the 76th Tata Steel tournament opened. (Interestingly, in the little booklet with the programme that everyone found on his chair, the dates of the 77th tournament in 2015 could be found on the back page, whereas Van den Boer decided to keep that important detail unmentioned.)
The sponsors have silently secured next year's tournament as well
Then, one by one the players of the Challengers Group were asked on the stage. They were all introduced by Hans Böhm, and then picked their lot number. As a result, today we will see the following games: Goudriaan-Zhao Xue, Jobava-Duda, Van Delft-Troff, Wojtaszek-Reinderman, Muzychuk-Timman, Saric-Bok, and Yu Yangyi-Brunello.
Then the spectacle started. The lights were dimmed, and actors dressed in 17th-century clothing entered the hall, and then the stage. It soon became clear that they were tableau vivant actors who were recreating the iconic image of The Night Watch! With this performance, the organizers were emphasizing their big novelty this year: the 4th round will be held in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and of course its most famous painting is this one by Rembrandt. (The 9th round will also be held elsewhere: at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven.)
Then, one by one the participants of the Masters group had to pick one of the twelve actors on stage, who revealed their lot number. As a result, the pairings for tomorrow are Dominguez-Giri, Van Wely-Karjakin, Harikrishna-Aronian, Caruana-Gelfand, Rapport-So and Nakamura-Naiditsch.
More information can be found in our preview article and on the official website. Don't forget that there will be live streaming commentary from Wijk aan Zee which you will be able to follow on Chess.com/TV!
A welcome drink before the opening ceremony
Predrag Nikolic, Ivan Saric and Anna Muzychuk
Merijn van Delft and Dimitri Reinderman (who once played Kasparov with red hair!)
Levon Aronian and his girlfriend Arianne Caoili (who will play in the amateurs again this year)
Sabino Brunello and Richard Rapport in good spirits
Alina l'Ami, Boris Gelfand and Alexander Huzman
Radek Wojtaszek and his girlfriend Alina Kashlinshkaya
The spectators at the opening ceremony, with the top players
in the front row enjoying Hans Böhm's speeches
Especially the Dutch GMs had a good laugh!
Benjamin Bok picking his lot number
Chief Arbiter Pavel Votruba announcing the first round pairings
The Challengers (Baadur Jobava will arrive later in Wijk aan Zee)
“People from the 17th-century” entering the hall...
...and then the stage
This looks like a familiar scene, doesn't it?
The Night Watch, originally called “The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq”
Caruana was the first to choose his actor that would hold his lot number...
...and of course he went for ladies first!
The result was quite a different painting altogether (Wesley So also arrives later)