Turkish Chess Federation – going for the millions

12/23/2005 – A year ago Ali Nihat Yazici, the President of the Turkish Chess Federation, predicted that within a year his federation would have 100,000 registered members (and thus become the largest in Europe). The actual number turned out to be 105,000. Skeptics were convinced and people are now listening carefully when Ali speaks about one million members. A major bank is providing major funding.

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This morning the Turkish Chess Federation signed the agreement with İş Bankasi (İş Bank, pronounced "ish bank"). The Federation was represented by Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin, the bank by Prof. Dr. Ahmet Kirman, Chairman of the board, and by Director General Ersin Ozince. The signing ceremony took place on the 41st floor of İş Bank Towers, which is the highest point in Istanbul, located right next to the Bosphorous.


The İş Bankasi twin towers are the highest buildings in
Turkey. The sponsorship ceremony was conducted on
the 41st floor and broadcast live national TV

The sponsorship consists three main items:

  1. approximately 100,000 chess books will be made available for the Chess in Schools project of the TCF;
  2. the Turkish Chess Federation will receive substantial subsidies from the bank on a monthly basis for its chess activities;
  3. the İş Bank and the TCF will launch a media campaign to encourage the rapid development of chess in Turkey.

"The Turkish Chess Federation has been very successful in the last year," said Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin. "First they opened a large number of new chess clubs all over the country, using their own resources. Then they set up a new 1000 square meters Chess Center in Ankara. And now the Federation has succeeded in winning the İş Bank as their main sponsor. This sponsorship is not only a big sponsorship for chess but also a very big sponsorship for Turkish Sport, an example for all federations."


The Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Mehmet Ali Sahin

Mr Ali Sahin told the guests at the signing ceremony that when the President of the TCF, Ali Nihat Yazici, had told him a year ago that he aimed to have 100,000 registered members within the year, he thought that was vastly exaggerated. "But Mr.Yazici has proven that it was not," said the Deputy Prime Minister. "The TCF now has 105,000 members. At the time Mr Yazici also told me that the aim was to have one million registered members by 2008. Now I believe that it will be much more than that – maybe two or three million! Naturally we will give the Chess Federation all necessary support."


Prof. Ahmet Kirman

Prof. Ahmet Kirman, the chairman of the board of Is Bank, told the gathering that the chess sponsorship deal was viewed by the bank as a bridge to Turkish schools and education. He expressed hope that the country will soon have new sporting idols who approach world chess championship level. "As the Turkiye İş Bankasi we would be delighted if there will be a world champion who made it because of the sponsorship of our bank."


Bank Director Ersin Ozince

Mr. Ersin Ozince, Director General of the bank, called the sponsorship package a very big educational project. "İş Bankasi, which was founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and is now the biggest bank of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, has always approached such projects with a sense of social responsibility. We aim to address millions of Turkish children and to change their future by giving them chess as an educational learning tool. It is an instrument which teaches them correct decision making, and at the same time it is a very great sport. The İş Bankasi Cultural Publications company will generate dozens of new books, DVDs and multimedia products for chess. We will make İş Bankasi the main address of Turkish chess. Internet technologies will be developed to make chess available online for all schools in Turkey. We will establish a Turkish School Team League on the Internet. We will make chess a sport for the entire nation. We are delighted to be here today and to witness Turkish sport history being made."

The happiest person around was the President of the Turkish Chess Federation, Ali Nihat Yazici, 41, who has organised more that 60 major chess events in his country.

Ali Nihat is a electronics and communication engineer and is the head of the Turkish Radio Television Corporation. As the president of TCF Ali has succeeded in making chess part of the curriculum in all primary schools in Turkey. He is the running mate to Dutch businessman Bessel Kok for the FIDE Presidential election next May. Full details can be found at:


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