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.
A brief history of the World Youth Championship
The French Chess Federation initiated the World Cadets for U17 in 1974 under the aegis of FIDE. Several years later, it was changed to World Under-18 Championships.
In 1987, Mr Rabell Mendez inaugurated the World Youth Chess Festival for Peace which incorporated new categories for Under-12, Under-14 and Under-16 in Puerto Rico. In 1989, he organised the Festival again but this time, included the U18. This was when I first visited the event with three young boys from Singapore. I recall that at that time, together with former FIDE General Secretary Dr. Lim Kok Ann, the five of us shared a dormitory which had three double-decker beds and a bathroom with WC. Food (minimum level) was served in a canteen, full of flies, and the organisers couldn’t do anything.
I tried to organise the Festival in 1990 in Singapore, but because I was unable to find the full budget and at the request of the USCF, we shared the event – Singapore hosting the U14, U16 & U18 while USA did the U10, U12 & 14. My next visit to this event was in 1992 in Duisburg, Germany which had about 500 participants. There, I predicted that the event will surpass the Chess Olympiad with the greater number of participants.
Sometime between the late 90’s and the turn of the century, the event name was changed to World Youth Chess Championships. Following on Singapore’s hosting the Asian Youth in 2004 which had an Under-8 category, in 2006, on my recommendation, the Under-8 category was added to the World Youth in Georgia. Singapore put a bid for the 2009 event. However, looking at seven other good bids, I decided that Singapore should withdraw. Today, the participants have a choice of five-star accommodation, a wide spread of buffet and enjoy much better playing facilities compared to what I first saw in 1989.
Ignatius Leong, FIDE General Secretary
The Limra Hotel, where a large part of the delegations are staying, and where the games are being played
The holiday hotel complex has bungalow sections and plenty of pools
Orange trees full of fruit in the middle of November
Hibiscus blossoms make one wonder why we will be flying back to northern Germany in a few days
These bougainvillea reach up to the second-storey balcony
TIn the playing hall the star of this event, Ilya Nyzhnyk of Ukraine (right), is playing black against Raul Junior Barros of Columbia in round four (Ilya won). At the time of writing he has won his first five games of the tournament.
This cuddly 11-year-old uber-prodigy is the one to watch
Elena Winkelmann, 16, of Germany
Zhansaya Abdumalik winning her U10 round four game
Atilla Köksal Yüksel, reigning world under 11 school champion
Aleyna Yigit, very talented and determined 11-year-old from Turkey
No, not a nordic film star, but Melissa Birgelir, 11, of Turkey
Another budding talent, as yet not identified by us
Elaine Lin, 13, of Taiwan
An incident in round four: the player with black claimed his opponent had touched his king on b1, and so had to move it. The white player said he had just brushed against it with his score pad, and grabbed it to save it from falling.
The arbiters rule in favour of white, and Black has to be comforted
... which is not as easy as it would seem
Dusk and the early winter moon in Antalya [21.11.2007, 18:16h]
As night falls the bulletin team of the Turkish Chess Federation springs into action
The team works from late evening until around noon the next day and sleep in the afternoon
In the bulletin room we met an old friend, WFM Emine Yanik, who used to play in the German league
Emine, who speaks German like a native, showed us how time-consuming, laborious and frustrating it can sometimes be to try to decipher moves written down in different languages by very young children. Often it takes Sherlockian skills to deduce the intention of a notation. And sometimes, in the games of the smallest of the small, the moves may not be completely legal. In one game we followed the players moving in and out of checkmate. Here the wits of the bulletin editor, and of the ChessBase program they are using, were at an end.
Report and pictures by Frederic Friedel and Özgür Akman