Vahap Sanal is the 2020 Turkish chess champion

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
11/22/2020 – Vahap Sanal obtained his second consecutive Turkish Chess Championship on Saturday in Kemer, a seaside resort and district of Antalya Province. The 22-year-old was the rating favourite and duly dominated the field by scoring five wins and four draws in the 10-player single round robin. IM Melih Yurtseven finished the tournament in style, winning three in a row to get sole second place. | Pictured: Cem Kaan Gokerkan (3rd), Vahap Sanal (1st) and Melih Yurtseven (2nd) | Photos: Official site

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A clean victory

Defending champion Vahap Sanal obtained tournament victory at the 2020 Turkish Chess Championship by winning five games — four of them with the white pieces — and drawing his remaining four encounters. It was a textbook performance by the 22-year-old, who showed good preparation with both colours and kept things mostly under control throughout.

The other big story of the event was Melih Yurtseven’s final run. The International Master, who arrived in Kemer as the seventh seed, won four out of his last five games, getting consecutive victories in rounds 7-9 to secure sole second place a half point behind Sanal. Yurtseven is also an architect and enjoys boxing, as stated on his Instagram account.

Third place went to Cem Kaan Gokerkan, who scored 6 out of 9 and lost only once, against second seed Firat Burak. 

Turkish Chess Championship 2020

Social distancing

In round 8, Sanal, who had a full point lead over Yurtseven and Gokerkan, all but secured tournament victory by beating Firat with the white pieces. By move 27, Black had managed to stop White’s threats and stood slightly better positionally. Sanal’s pieces were still placed near the opposite king though, and a single slip turned the tables:


27...Qf4 defending h6 was called for here, while Firat’s 27...Re6 gave way to the killer 28.Nf5, creating the deadly threat of Qh6-Qg7 mate. Black had nothing better than 28...Rxf6 allowing 29.Nxh6+ Kg7 30.g5 and White is now clearly better.

Firat gave up his queen for a rook and a minor piece later on, but his position was hopeless with his knight out of play:


37.Qe5+ Kh7 38.Qe8 and Black resigned.

Vahap Sanal

Back-to-back Turkish chess champion Vahap Sanal

Sanal only needed a draw in the last round to secure first place, and he quickly signed the peace treaty with Deniz Ozen. Meanwhile, Firat continued playing enterprising chess, but his efforts backfired for a second day in a row. Yurtseven scored the only win of the round after outplaying his opponent in a position with the kings castled on opposite flanks:


Black’s initiative on the queenside was much stronger than White’s attempts at counterplay — 25.Qxc7 Rdb8 26.Na4 Qe3 27.Rhe1 (forced) Qxe4+ 28.Kc1:


Black broke through with 28...c3 29.Bb5 cxb2+ 30.Nxb2 Qb4 31.Rxe6 Qc3+ and game over.

Melih Yurtseven

Melih Yurtseven

Final standings


All games



Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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