International Chess Federation
Saturday, 29 Jul 2023 18:53
FIDE World Cup 2023: Opening ceremony and press conference

With a magnificent display of light and sound, digital computer chess merging with actors dressed-up as real-life chess pieces, the 2023 FIDE World Cup kicked off this afternoon with the opening ceremony in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Packed to the brim with players, guests, officials and staff, the breath-taking Baku Convention Centre hosted the festivities, including speeches, music, dance, and most importantly for all the players, the drawing of colours – 5-times World Champion Vishy Anand and former chess star and politician Aynur Sofiyeva performed the honours.

In the Open section, Ivan Cheparinov, the top player starting in Round 1, will start with White in the first game, whereas Magnus Carlsen, the top player overall and joining in Round 2, will start with Black in the first game.

In the women’s section, Eline Roebers, the top player starting in Round 1, will have the White pieces in the first game, so will the overall top player in the women's section, Women's World Champion Ju Wenjun in Round 2.

The chess afternoon also featured the first official press conference, with the presence of the officials Farid Gayibov, Minister of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan, Arkady Dvorkovich, FIDE President and Mahir Mammedov, President of the Azerbaijan Chess Federation.

Two of Azerbaijan's top players, both of them World Cup participants, also attended the conference to answer the questions of the media; Teimour Radjabov, winner of the 2019 FIDE World Cup and Gunay Mammadzada.

Gayibov wished the best of success to all the participants in the event and reminded everyone that they were planning to host many more international events in Azerbaijan.

Arkady Dvorkovich was very thankful to the local organizers: "It's a tough job to put together such a big competition, with tens of countries and hundreds of players. We would like to thank all the staff for their efforts to organize the event… I expect that fair play will prevail, with role models playing their best chess and having fun". 

He also added: "I am sure Magnus Carlsen plans to win the World Cup, but the competition is very strong, and it won't be easy. It's his own decision to play or not in the Candidates".

Teimour Radjabov mentioned that "the hardest thing is to compete for the whole month, but I am pleased to stay in my country. FIDE is doing a great job; I am happy to be here and hope to make it as far as possible. I missed the feeling of being a superstar here in Azerbaijan."

Gunay Mammadzada hoped that the event might encourage new players to take up the game. "This tournament is a festivity for me, and I will do my best to make it to the final. I also hope it encourages many more young players to compete in the future".

Day one of Round 1 will start tomorrow, July 30th, at 3 pm. The games will be played in the Marriott Hotel Boulevard and broadcast live with expert commentary on the FIDE Youtube Channel.

Text: Michael Rahal 

Photo: Stev Bonhage, Anna Shtourman

About the event

The FIDE World Cup has been held since 2005 and takes place every two years. The first Women's World Cup was organized in 2021.

The regulations for this year's events, as well as the breakdown of the prize fund, can be found on the Official Information section of the event website: