Astana Hosts Opening Ceremony of 2023 FIDE World Championship

ASTANA – The opening ceremony of the 2023 FIDE World Chess Championship Match featuring art performances and AI technology took place at the Astana Ballet theater on April 7. 

An AI-controlled robotic pyramid with a chess piece-filled bowl took part in the lot drawing ceremony. Photo credit: FIDE.

The three-week championship will run through May 1. 

Kazakhstan’s Minister of Culture and Sports, Askhat Oralov, congratulated on the opening of the match and read out a letter from President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev addressed to the players and the audience.

“This is a significant event for all chess followers,” Tokayev wrote in his letter. “Chess is a unique sport that develops cognitive skills. We pay special attention to this sport in our country. All the conditions have been created especially for young people who play chess. We have nearly 700 schools and clubs involved in chess. The players promote our country worldwide. This competition in Astana will contribute to the further development of chess.”

Ding Liren (L) and Timur Turlov. Photo credit: FIDE.

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovic expressed hope that millions of viewers will enjoy the match between the second and third-ranked chess players. 

“For both players this is an event they’ve been waiting for all their life. It’s going to be very competitive. They’ll give all the talent and the skills to win it,” Dvorkovic said. 

According to Timur Turlov, the President of the Chess Federation and CEO of Freedom Holding Corp, the event will encourage the country’s youth to play chess.  

“This match is a great chance and a great honor for Kazakhstan. We hope this event will inspire many new chess players. I am sure we will have more of our children in future chess events. Our country is full of bright and talented people, and this type of event is important for us. We want to show to the world that we are an open and beautiful country, and I hope you see it,” Turlov said. 

Ian Nepomniachtchi during a lot drawing ceremony. Photo credit: FIDE.

An AI-controlled robotic pyramid with a chess piece-filled bowl took part in the lot drawing ceremony between two world-renowned chess grandmasters, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren. 

As a result, Nepomniachtchi will have white in the first game and Liren starts with black.

The first game of the championship will take place on April 9 at 3 p.m. local time at the St. Regis Hotel.

Astana has extensive experience hosting international chess events. The first leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix took place in the Kazakh capital in September 2022. Astana also hosted the FIDE World Team Chess Championship in March 2019.

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