The last act of the greatest chess event on earth was held in Astana. A new era in chess history as Ding Liren emerges as the first player from China to hold the world title in the open section
Following a stunning tie-break finale, the chess world championship match came to a ceremonial close in Astana. All the usual elements were there – the musical performances, the speeches, the fireworks, and – the crowning of the new word champion!
The ceremony was held at the St Regis hotel – the very venue where for the past three weeks Ding Liren and Ian Nepomniachtchi had been making history in their fight for the world title.
The evening started with a performance featuring the traditional music and dance from the Great Stepe, celebrating the culture and heritage of the host country, Kazakhstan.
Following the intonation of the FIDE anthem, a short video was shown, highlighting the key moments of the epic three-week chess battle that took place in Astana.
Then Altai Kölgınov, Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, took to the stage. He congratulated Ding Liren on his victory and thanked the event's supporters.
"Such kind of championship is a great motivation for our young generation", Kölgınov said.
Timur Turlov, head of Freedom House, the key sponsor of the match, noted that the event "was much beyond our expectations [as local organisers]. There was a lot of attention from the public all over the world, and was one of the most viewed chess events globally, as millions of people tuned in".
"It was a real thriller in Astana… We're proud that we found out the name of the 17th world champion here, in Astana. We hope Astana will become one of the world centres of this game", Turlov said.
The ceremony entered its final and key stage as Arkady Dvorkovich, the President of the International Chess Federation, was invited to take the floor. He congratulated Ding Liren "on his remarkable victory".
Describing the match, Dvorkovich said that "we were witnessing a fight that everybody thought was endless, but it had to end… The players showed their commitment to fight until the end and find ways to recover after huge blows. They showed they are great players and the whole chess world is grateful to them".
"We are happy that the match was held here in Kazakhstan, the country located between two chess nations represented in this match, and it proved to be a great place", said Dvorkovich as he thanked the sponsors, local organisers, volunteers and partners.
The match witnessed a historic moment as Ding Liren emerged victorious, clinching the title and paving the way for a new chapter in chess history.
"It is the first time in history that the world champion in the open category is from China. After the tradition of quite a few women's world champions, Chinas is now a holder of both world crowns. This will be a huge motivation for young players in China to develop, grow and compete internationally", the FIDE President added.
"As we celebrate this historic moment, let us also recognize that the game of chess transcends borders, cultures, and languages, and it is through our shared love for this game that we can continue to foster understanding, respect, and friendship among all nations", Dvorkovich concluded.
Finally, it was time for the World Champion to come on the stage and be crowned with his new title. He was joined by Ian Nepomniachtchi, who also mustered the strength to smile and appear calm.
This part of the ceremony was fused with Kazakh traditions of putting the chapan – a traditional Kazakh robe honouring a high guest – on the shoulders of the new champion.
Then, following the time-honoured tradition in chess, the new champion was crowned with a green wreath. He was then presented with a gold medal and awarded the cup.
After the anthem of the People's Republic of China, performed on the violin by a virtuoso of Kazakhstan's national chamber orchestra, the new world champion then briefly addressed the audience, thanking the organisers, his team and his opponent for a great event.
"I'm very happy to win the match. It was very tough and difficult. I'd like to thank the sponsors and organisers, and I also want to thank my opponent, Ian, for being a great fighter and fighting until the very end", Ding said.
The final stage of the ceremony was officiated by Arkady Dvrokovich, who had the "sad duty" to declare the World championship match officially closed.
The next match for the title of World Champion will be held in two years.
Text: Milan Dinic
Photo: Stev Bonhage
Official website: worldchampionship.fide.com/
About the match
The 2023 FIDE World Chess Championship match between Grandmasters Ding Liren and Ian Nepomniachtchi took place from 7th April to 1st May 2023 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The match consists of 14 games, followed by a rapid/blitz tiebreak in case of a tie.
The time control for the standard games is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 60 minutes for the next 20 moves, and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move 61.
The first player to reach 7,5 points in the 14 games will win the match. If it's a tie, the two go to tiebreaks.
The prize fund for the match is two million euros, with the reward being split 60:40 between the winner and the runner-up.