The tournament, announced in December last year, will take place from March 10th (arrival) to March 21 (departure) 2008. The venue is the İş Bankası Towers Complex, which has a total area of 225,000 square meters. It is the largest of its kind on the European continent. Games start at 14:30h local time (= GMT +2h). March 19 is a free day. The games are being broadcast on Playchess.com.
Tournament venue: the 41st story of the İş Bankası towers overlooking Istanbul
One would expect that after a couple of hours of media buzz, with short time of preparation after the drawing of lots, some players might be less competitive on the first day. Actually, it was the other way around. There was an intense fight on every board, with every game reaching a decision.
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Before the start of the event: Turkish Chess Federation president Ali Nihat Yazici discusses the technical regulations with the players and explains the expectations of the sponsors and the upcoming media attention
An attentive particiant: GM Viktor Bologan. Bologan? Isn't it a women's tournament? Yes, but Viktor is the second of Zhu Chen, and the two players worked together in North Urals Cup 2007, Krasnotourinsk
Bologan's charge, former Women's World Champion Zhu Chen from Qatar, talks to the media
... as does Suat Atalik, Turkey's top GM (and husband of IM Ekaterina Atalik)
TCF President Ali Nihat Yazici speaks to the players and spectators at the opening ceremony
The Chinese are coming: Xue Zhao and Zhu Chen at the opening ceremony
But this is the one to watch: 13-year-old Hou Yifan comes with a 2527 rating
All the girls, and the president and the sponsor. For the record: Hou, Lela, Betul, Irina, Pia and Zhao are in front, Ali Nihat, Anna, Ekaterina, Harika, Zhu and sponsor Suat Sözen in the second row.
Before the start of round one: WGM Zhao Xue, rated 2517
Former women's world champion GM Zhu Chen, 2548, who lives in and plays for Qatar
Ekaterina Atalik, formerly Polovnikova, a Russian IM who married Turkey's top GM Suat Atalik
Top US player IM Irina Krush, originally from Ukraine, currently rated at 2473
The future: top Turkish player WIM Betul Yildiz, 18 years old, rated at 2207
Indian prodigy IM Harika Dronavalli, 17 years old, rated 2455
Lela Javakhishvili, Georgian IM, rated 2470
Turkish TV at the start of the round
And the players settle down in the beautiful venue on top of the İş Bankası tower
Pictures Özgür Akman