Erigaisi has the best start at the Satty Zhuldyz Festival

by André Schulz
4/21/2023 – The Satty Zhuldyz Chess Festival is one of the many side events of the World Championship match between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren in Astana. Twelve players, among them former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, were invited to play a rapid and blitz tournament. With a score of 3.5/4 Arjun Erigaisi had the best start in the strong and attractive field. | Photo: Vincent Keymer during the drawing of lots | Photos: Maria Emelianova and Damir Kuzhumov for Satty Shuldyz

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The Satty Zhuldyz Chess Festival 2023, Day 1

After the Kazakhstan vs World women's match, the Satty Zhuldyz Chess Festival 2023 is the second major side event tournament of the World Championship match in Astana. It is named after its sponsor Satty Zhuldyz, a Kazakh lottery operator.

Another part of the festival is a children's tournament, the Bibisara Assaubayeva Cup, held in the morning. 300 children and young people from Kazakhstan take part.

In the afternoon, the 12 Grandmasters play rapid (from Thursday to Saturday) and blitz (Monday and Tuesday).

Nice decoration

The venue is the large hall at the Hilton Hotel Astana, where the colourful opening ceremony also took place.

Preparing for the opening ceremony

The organisers have put together a very mixed field with established top players (Kramnik, Gelfand, Aronian, Grischuk), Uzbek players (Sindarov, Vakhidov), top women players (Hou, Lagno, Assaubayeva) and up-and-coming players like Erigaisi, Martirosyan and Keymer.

The list of participants

The youth tournament was opened Thursday morning by Kazakh Sports Minister Ashat Oralov, who used the opportunity to award Bibisara Assaubayeva the honorary title of "Master of Sports".

In the afternoon at 5 pm the first round of the grandmaster tournament began. Kazakh junior players were allowed to make the opening moves.

Relaxed: former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik

But with three wins and one draw from his four games it was the Indian Grandmaster Arjun Erigaisi who dominated on day 1.

New look: Arjun Erigaisi

The young Indian grandmaster defeated Haik Martirosyan, Javokhir Sindarov and Hou Yifan before conceding his only draw against Alexander Grischuk in the last round of the first day.

Boris Gelfand and Levon Aronian also finished the first day of play with a positive result and 2.5 points.

Levon Aronian

Together with Alexander Grischuk Vincent Keymer was the drawing king of day 1. The German number one drew first with Grischuk, then with Vakhidov and Assaubayeva and finally with Gelfand.

After playing the Armageddon tournament in Berlin in the beginning of April, Kramnik is also back at the board. The 14th World Champion finished the day with 50%. He won against Hou but lost against Vakhidov.

Standings after four rounds






André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.