The World Youth Chess Championship 2007 is taking place in Kemer-Antalya, Turkey, between November the 17th, 2007 (arrival) and November the 29th, 2007 (departure). There are separate groups for girls and for boys, under 8, under 10, under 12, under 14, under 16 and under 18 years old. Over 1500 players from 103 countries, with more than a thousand accompanying parents, trainers, VIPs, TCF staff, journalists, etc. are staying in the three official hotels, Limra, Alinda and Sailor's Beach. The numbers make this event the second largest in the country's history – certainly the biggest event staged with a single sport. The organisers are handling the onslaught with equanimity, having prepared for the possible arrival of up to 4,500 persons.
There are various stars of chess with strong U18 players like GMs Ivan Popov and David Howell, or IM Manuel Leyon Hoyos. In the girl's section Russian WFM Valentina Gunina is the top seed, followed by Indian WIMs Manisha Mohanty Kiran and Mary Ann Gomes. In Boys U16 IM Salgado Lopez and IM Vasif Durarybeyli are among the players that you can recognize. Kübra Öztürk, the Turkish star who has held the European U16 title for two years, has to face strong opponents, inclduing WFM Olgar Girya, WFM Sopiko Guramishvili, WIM Irine Kharisma Sukandar. In the Boys U12, there is the young star FM Ilya Nyzhnyk who is already famous in the chess world. In U14 the winner of Femida Cup IM Sanan Sjugirov of Kalmykia is playing in Kemer.
In the following pictures there are some players names missing, which we will try to supply in the coming days. With the number of participants present and the speed at which we are shooting digital images we are going to probably going to miss out on a few names now and then. Apologies to the players and their families.
The days of the World Youth Championship begin with work, usually after breakfast, sometimes before then. The trainers get their kids together and start analysing and preparing. The trainer of the top Turkish talents is Slovenian GM Adrian Mikhalchishin, who has a corner in the press center where he can train his charges.
Young talents: Burcu Şaşmazel (pronounced Bur-joo Shash-mazel), Yesim ("Yeshim") Patel and Ayca ("Ai-cha") Fatma Durmaz working with grandmaster Adrian Mikhalchishin. In the above picture they are solving a suit of tactical problems from a magazine.
It is inspiring to see Yesim, who is just ten years old, working out with the GM
At three in the afternoon the games begin, in a number of different halls
A total of forty games are played on sensor boards and broadcast on the Internet
One of the big stars of this event: eleven-year-old Ilya Nyzhnyk, who won the B-Group of the Moscow Open earlier this year. This is a lad we will be watching carefully.
Gizem Yilmaz, one of the few unrated Turkish players
Mert Yilmazyerli, 15, is a talented youngster from Izmir who was part of the Turkish National Team which won a silver medal in European Under 16 Team Championship in Subotica. He is wearing his Besiktas sweatsuit – Besiktas is the reigning champion of Turkiye Is Bankasi Chess Leauge, the only big sporting club in Turkey having a chess section.
An impish young player from Kenya: ten-ear-old Peniel Weru
A budding beauty of Indian extraction in the Kenyan team: Tina Sathyanarayan, 12 years old
FM Ilya Nyznhyk – the name is pronounced "future world champion"
Onur Can Topal from Ankara, the capital city of Turkey
WFM Sopiko Guramishvili of Georgia, the reigning World Champion Under 16 Girls who was invited to Catalonia for attending an exhchange programme under the project of "Chess for peace and understanding"
Cansu Soylemez, another Besiktas player residing in Izmir and a loyal fan of the Turkish club
Vahap Sanal, who last year narrowly missed winning the World Under 8 Championship, but later won a bronze medal in the World Schools Chess Championship Under 9 category last October in Batumi. Vahap is from Izmir, the third largest city in Turkey and the powerhouse of youth chess in the country. He is currently trained by GM Gamil Agamaliev.
Another striking young player (name to be supplied later)
One of the many young Asian players at this event
Izge Bayyurt is seven years old and normally wears a three-piece suit during his games. Here he has donned the special sweat shirts designed for the Turkish squad. Izge is an extraordinary young man, very serious and quite dedicated to chess, winning a bronze medal in World Schools Chess Championship in Under 7 Category in Thessaloniki last April. He is realistic enough to admit that it is a very difficult task to become a world champion, and says he is not sure whether he will succeed in making it. His favourite world champion, he tells us, is Mikhail Botvinnik, because he was always able to come back to the top. Izge asked Garry Kasparov about Botvinnik when he visited Istanbul for the promotion of Turkish volume of "My Great Predecessors."
A young player going for victory
A stylish young lady from China: Lee Ting Jie
Waiting for the opponent after a struggle with a ballpoint pen
The broadcasting team of Turkish Chess Federation making sure the boards are transmitting the moves correctly. A total of 40 games can be watched live from anywhere around the globe. From left to right Burcu Menekse, then the two Fatmas of Turkish Chess Federation: Fatma Öztürk and Fatma Yildiz, and finally Nur Ertekin on the far right.
On Sunday we celebrated the 53rd birthday of Adrian Mikhalchishin...
... whose students cut the cake for him
Kübra Öztürk and Betül Cemre Yildiz, about whom we will write more in a later report
The grandmaster who is adored by his pupils...
... and who soon goes back to work preparing for the next day's games
These sessions can go on almost until midnight – chess is not an easy enterprise
Report and pictures by Özgür Akman and Frederic Friedel