General Jan 15, 2021 | 8:25 PMby GM Mateusz Bartel

Wojtaszek on Wijk aan Zee

Radosław Wojtaszek and Jan-Krzysztof Duda will be representing Poland in Wijk aan Zee so there's no better time for the launch of chess24 in Polish! 4-time Polish Chess Champion Mateusz Bartel will be leading Polish live commentary on the tournament, and he also talked to both Radek and Janek before battle commenced.  

Although last year many events, including chess tournaments, were cancelled, chess is entering 2021 with the traditional Tata Steel Masters tournament. We’re happy both that the tournament is taking place (even if in a reduced format), and that among the 14 players are two Polish grandmasters. Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Radosław Wojtaszek are neither among the ranking favourites nor the outsiders. Depending on their form, either of them could join the fight for the top spots.

Both Radek and Janek agreed to reveal a few of their secrets right before the start of the event. Let’s begin with Radek.

Radek Wojtaszek will again be taking on Carlsen and Caruana. Can he beat them again in the Netherlands?

1. How often have you played in Wijk aan Zee and which appearance do you remember best?

This will be my third appearance in the Masters group. I have the best memories of the 2015 edition, when I won games against Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana. I’ll no doubt still recall those games long after the end of my career. I don’t have such good memories of the final result in that edition and I’d like to be able to remember this year’s appearance for the place in the final standings and not for individual wins.

2. What’s most important in such a long tournament?  

Over such a long distance as in Wijk aan Zee, where there are 13 rounds against demanding opponents, the most important thing is to avoid falling into extremes. You can’t afford either to get carried away after winning one or two games or to collapse after unsuccessful games.

3. How do you maintain good physical form?

Since I was invited almost at the last minute, I didn’t do my typical preparation and my physical form may be something of a mystery. However, during the pandemic I did work on improving my stamina, and I’m in good spirits.

4. How do you relax at tournaments: books, films, games, physical activities?

A little of everything. No doubt books and Netflix. As for moving about, then more walking than running.

5. Who’s supporting you during Tata Steel Chess 2021?

In Holland there’s my wife, Alina. There’s an interesting story behind that. Initially, at this time, Alina was supposed to play in the Women’s Grand Prix in Gibraltar, and I was going to accompany her. Later I was invited to the Tata Steel Masters, so our plans changed. Ultimately it turned out that the Grand Prix was postponed and now it’s Alina accompanying me to Wijk aan Zee rather than me accompanying her to Gibraltar. Also with me is Grzesiek Gajewski, who’s going to help me with opening preparation. 

With such strong support there’s nothing left to do but to show my best.  

6. What’s your goal at the tournament?

Planning anything for a tournament as long and strong as Wijk aan Zee is unrealistic. I’m concentrating on getting satisfaction from well-played games, and then the results should go hand in hand. The tournament itself will be an interesting test for me. I want to see if I’m still able to compete with the opponents I’ve competed with for a long time. Recently I’ve done a lot of work and I’m curious to see the results when I come up against strong opponents.  

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