Of the fourteen participating grandmasters in the Masters, seven are top 20 players. Here Alireza Firouzja and Ian Nepomniachtchi are big crowd pullers, in addition to the aforementioned world champion Ding Liren and defending champion Anish Giri. Van den Berg: “I am also happy that last year’s great talents have really fulfilled their promise. In particular, the Indian players Praggnanandhaa and Gukesh and Abdusattorov from Uzbekistan are storming the top and are once again participating in the Masters. Jorden van Foreest (winner 2021) and Max Warmerdam from the Netherlands are also competing for the title.”
Missing Magnus Carlsen
Van den Berg is very enthusiastic about the field of participants, although one important name is missing: Magnus Carlsen. “Unfortunately, Magnus’ schedule does not allow him to participate with us this year. He plays several other tournaments in February and that means that he is not at our tournament for the second time in 20 years. We obviously hope to welcome him again in 2025. He really belongs to our tournament and is always welcome.”
The Challengers tournament also has a strong field of players from the top 100 in the world and here too some great talents. “We have five talented competitors here who are under 20 years old, including the aforementioned Junior World Champion Maurizzi, who is only 16 years old. And many chess fans are undoubtedly looking forward to the arrival of Hans Niemann,” said Van den Berg. Niemann rose to global prominence in 2022 due to massive media attention following allegations of alleged foul play. This issue was mutually discussed and resolved by those involved in mid-2023.