TCF moves the World Junior away from Syria

9/5/2013 – The Turkish Chess Federation has finally decided to move the 2013 World Junior Chess Championship from Hatay to Kocaeli, as far away from Syria as possible. The decision comes quite late as many federations had already decided not to send their players and the tournament starts in approximately one week. Information on the new venue, the list of players and the official announcement.

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In May 22 earlier this year the Turkish Chess Federation announced that the World Junior Chess Championship for boys and girls would be held in the city of Hatay, Turkey. Many chess players and federations were unhappy with this decision, as Hatay is a mere 20 kilometers away from the Syrian border.

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By the time the TCF had announced the dates of the tournament the Syrian conflict was already a full-scale civil war, and was potentially turning international as Syria and Israel exchanged fire in the Golan Heights. It was only one month afterwards that the Syrian rebels took Khan al-Assal and were accused of the massacre by the same name. Khan al-Assal is a strategically important city 14 kilometers east of Aleppo – the closest major city to Hatay. The city is so close that you can get there in a few hours drive. The US Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, has expressed security concerns because of recent attacks on the Turkish-Syrian border:

On May 11, two car bombs exploded fifteen minutes apart in the Reyhanli district of Hatay province, killing an estimated 49 people and wounding more than 100. Additionally, on February 11, a car bomb exploded at the Turkish/Syrian border crossing at Cilvegözü in Hatay province, killing 14 people and injuring 25. Turkish towns located along the border with Syria have also been struck by bullets and artillery rounds originating in Syria, with some resulting in deaths or injuries. The Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens avoid areas in close proximity to the Syrian border. The Embassy advises all U.S. citizens traveling to southeastern Turkey to exercise extreme caution. We remind U.S. citizens of the current Travel Warning for Syria.

With talks of America getting directly involved in the conflict and accusations of the Syrian government engaging in chemical warfare, it is clear that holding a tournament so close to this country was, to put it mildly, a bad idea. Many federations had already refused to send their players, the Dutch being the first among them. The current list of participants heavily lacks any players from the western side of the world.

The TCF finally decided to change the venue of the tournament to Kocaeli, as far away from Syria as you can get in Turkey.

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The announcement comes very late as the tournament is scheduled to start September 12th. However the Turkish Federation is doing everything in its power to provide adequate transportation from Istanbul airport to those players that had already bought a ticket to Hatay, while encouraging new players to join now that the tournament is far from the conflict.

Many of the players will be happy with the decision not only because of the geographical location, but also because the tournament will now be held in a five star hotel famous for its thermal waters.

The men's thermal pool, the women will have their own

The tournament venue will now be the Theness Hotel, which should adequately provide everything the players need and is a big upgrade from hosting the tournament with multiple hotels holding the players as it was going to be done in Hatay.

The players seem like they will be just fine

Kocaeli Province is a province of Turkey. Its capital is Izmit, which is sometimes referred to as Kocaeli itself. The largest towns in the province are now Izmit and Gebze. The province is located at the easternmost end of the Marmara Sea, especially on the Gulf of Izmit. Because of the size and natural conditions of the Bay of Izmit, the city is a giant natural harbour. It is bordered to the east by the city of Istanbul. There are lots of harbour facilities within Kocaeli, including the primary base of the Turkish Navy. The title of the city is the industrial capital of Turkey.

The following is the current list of the confirmed top players of the event:

Participants

Men

Player Country
Rating
So, Wesley PHI
2710
Yu Yangyi CHN
2662
Ipatov, Alexander TUR
2601
Sethuraman, SP IND
2582
Ter-Sahakyan, S ARM
2575
Cori, Jorge PER
2569
Kovalev, Vladislav BLR
2568
Vidit, Santosh G IND
2563
Eliseev, Urii RUS
2556
Salem, A.R. Saleh UAE
2556
 

Women

Player Team
Rating
Cori, Deisy PER
2434
Bulmaga, Irina ROU
2410
Goryachkina, A RUS
2409
Wang Jue China
2392
Kashlinskaya, A RUS
2390
Arabidze, Meri GEO
2332
Padmini, Rout IND
2332
Savakassova,D KAZ
2323
Zhai Mo CHN
2319
Khademalsharieh,S IRI
2303

The tournament might get stronger as different federations allow their players to go, but with the announcement coming so close to the tournament start it might be logistically impossible for the players to arrange their travels. Clearly Hatay was a bad choice for a tournament location, and it is a mystery on why the TCF proposed this place to hold the event in the first place or why FIDE decided to accept their bid.

Official tournament website


Topics World Junior
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