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.
The organisers, the Turkish Chess Federation, has put together "one of the most professional competitions in the history of chess for the world youth championships". A total of 1450 players from 103 countries arrived in time for round one (two delegations are still expected), with more than a thousand accompanying parents, trainers, VIPs, TCF staff, journalists, etc. making a total of 2600 people, who 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.
At the airport in Istanbul we encounter a bevy of Bulgarians, 26 in total, led by the trainer and coach, our old friend Radislav Atanasov. The connecting flight arrived in Antalya at 1:30 a.m., and by the time all 27 of us had piled into the pickup bus, were distributed in our hotels in Kemer, it was way past 3 a.m. The check-in took all of five minutes and the hotel had coffee and cakes waiting for late arrivers.
The view from my hotel balcony at 4:00 a.m., with a preposterously bright Venus shining down at –4.5 magnitude from a jet-black unpolluted sky. The above shot was taken with a very long exposure in "starry night" mode, which stacks sixty shots to one composite picture.
Hotel Limra, where most of the players are staying and where the event is being staged
The hotel deal is quite sweet. Each national delegation gets one player in each of the twelve categories and the trainer free (i.e. the Turkish Chess Federation pays their hotel bills). All Turkish players, over 250 of them, are also free. The rest of the players and incidental visitors pay 50 Euros per day in a first-class hotel, where everything appears to be free: three big buffet meals, all soft drinks in restaurants and bars, swimming, spars, fitness, etc. We have yet to spend our first Turkish Lira.
The delegations – players, coaches and accompanying persons register for the tournament
A trip to Phaselis, a 2700-year-old harbour city just 15 km west of Kemer
On the day before the start of the event our group of journalists were taken on a tour to Phaselis, an ancient Lycian city about half an hour's drive from our hotel. Phaselis was set up by the Rhodians in 700 BC. Because of its location on an isthmus separating two harbours, it became the most important harbour city of western Lycia and an important centre of commerce. The city was captured by Persians after they conquered Asia Minor, and was later captured by Alexander the Great.
The obligatory Hellenistic amphitheater...
... and the obligatory super-cute and super-friendly cat prowling the grounds
Your intrepid reporter has scaled the cliffs where thousands were cast to their death in ancient times. Actually it is just the balcony seats of the amphitheater
Bathers in the Mediterranean, in the second half of November. This comes as a shock to northern Europeans who, 24 hours earlier, were scraping frost off their windscreens before driving to the airport.
Dinner in a fine fish restaurant, with our hosts from the Türkiye Is Bankasi, the largest bank in Turkey and the main sponsors of the World Youth World Championship.
The main course was giant fish baked in salt, which have to be carefully chiselled open
The sea bass (Lagos) is extracted from the salt and leaf covering and is simply delicious
In the evening then the spectacular opening ceremony
The opening ceremony took place with the Deputy President of Türkiye Is Bankasi Prof.Dr. Baran Tuncer (the main sponsor of TCF) , Member of the Turkish Parliament Prof.Dr. Yusuf Ziya Irbeç, FIDE Administration, Deputy Governor of Antalya Fazli Akgün, many other guests including players, coaches, local, national and international journalists. There was also a folk dance after the protocol speeches.
Deputy President of Türkiye Is Bankasi Prof.Dr. Baran Tuncer
FIDE honorary president Florencio Campomanes and Executive Director David Jarrett
The initiator and chief organiser of the event, TCF President Ali-Nihat Yazici
The keynote speech by Florencio Campomanes
The Continental President for Asia Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nehyan (middle) with the President of the Argentinian Chess Federation Nicolas Barrera and GM Miguel Quinteros. The Argentinians want to stage the World Women's Championship in San Luis next year.
A colorful group of players from different segments of the planet
Participants from the State of Qatar
Turkish folklore to entertain the guests
Colorful costumes and vigorous dances, an Oriental spectacle
A little girl with a big camera [Memo: see if she is free to work for us]
After two hours some of the visitors are ready to throw in the towel
Two participants from Korea who really know when it is time to resign
Your dedicated photo reporters Frederic Friedel, ChessBase...
...and Özgür Akman, press officer of the Turkish Chess Federation
Report by Frederic Friedel