On December 25, the World Chess Championship started in Almaty’s Palace of Culture and Sports named after Baluan Sholak. According to the Chess Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the tournament’s prize fund is $1 million.
The tournament organized by FIDE and the Chess Federation of Kazakhstan attracted leading chess players from 50 countries. It will last until December 30, 2022.
During the official opening ceremony, Minister of Culture and Sports Dauren Abayev read out the letter from President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. The president praised the recent success of Kazakhstan’s chess players and underscored that «this success aspires the young generation to pay more attention to sports.»
More than 300 players, international arbiters and FIDE officials have gathered at the tournament.
Among the male championship’s favorites are Magnus Carlsen (Norway, FIDE standard rating 2859), Hikaru Nakamura (the U.S., 2768), Fabiano Caruana (the U.S., 2766), Ian Nepomniachtchi (FIDE, 2793), Anish Giri (the Netherlands, 2764), Alexander Grischuk (FIDE, 2745), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, 2740), Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Poland, 2729), Yu Yangyi (China, 2728), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France, 2737 blitz, the current champion) and many other prominent chess players.
Among women, favorites are Aleksandra Goryachkina (FIDE, 2584), Kateryna Lagno (FIDE, 2563), Humpy Koneru (India, 2572), Tan Zhongyi (China, 2518), Nana Dzagnidze (Georgia, 2517), Harika Dronavalli (India, 2507), Zhansaya Abdumalik (Kazakhstan, 2496), Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (Iran, 2490), Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria, 2442), the current champions Alexandra Kosteniuk (FIDE, 2520 – rapid) and Bibisara Assaubayeva (Kazakhstan, 2440) and other stars from the world of chess.
The FIDE threshold for the tournament is the standard rating of 2550 for men and 2250 for women. However, the current national champions are eligible for the World Open with any FIDE rating. Also, the FIDE president can nominate 10 players for the tournament, while organizers can nominate 15 players for the open and 10 players for the women’s match.
According to Ticketon.kz, the cheapest ticket for the Almaty tournament costs $6.43. The games are scheduled on December 26 and 27 at 3:00 p.m.; on December 28 and 29 at 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. respectively and on December 30, at 8:00 p.m. No smartphones or any other gadgets are allowed at the site, the ticket service warns visitors on its website.
The FIDE World Blitz Championship in Almaty is supported by Freedom Broker, which also provided the prize fund. Among other partners are Lancaster Group, Shokan Ualikhanov School, Chess Legends, Tioline and Turan, a mineral water producer.