Will Kübra checkmate the volleyball star?

12/28/2006 – It would be a first in chess. 15-year-old Kübra Öztürk, Gold medal winner at the European U16 Championship, has been nominated for Sportsperson of the Year by the Turkish newspaper Milliyet – and is now in second place behind an international volleyball star. A few more votes and the chess hopeful will take first place. Voting ends on December 29.

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Kübra gives check!

As previously reported, the Turkish newspaper Milliyet has nominated two candidates from the chess scene for its traditional “Sports People of the Year” award. After our story appeared 15-year-old chess gold medalist Kübra Öztürk rose to second place on the list, immediately behind Neslihan Demir, the star of the National Volleyball Team. The other chess candidate, Ali Nihat Yazici, is in third place in the voting for “Best Sports Manager of the Year”.


Milliyet article: Kübra give check!

In a Milliyet story entitled “Kübra gives check!” the newspaper says that one of the factors leading to her rise in the polls was the fact that ChessBase, “the most popular chess web site in the world”, published a story and asked its readers to support a rising Turkish chess star.


Kübra winning Gold at the European Championship under 16

Thas is only half the truth. Apart from ChessBase, Kübra’s club, the Besiktas JK, mobilized its fans to vote for two candidates from the club: Kübra Öztürk and Ibrahim Üzülmez (the captain of the football team, who was nominated as a candidate for the Best Footballer of the Year award).


The rival: Turkish vollyball star Neslihan Demir

We will see whether Kübra will be able to catch Neslihan Demir, the famous volleyball star, and win “Sports Person of the Year” award. That would be an incredible success for chess in any country in the world. In Turkey it would give the game a further boost, adding to the already remarkable progress made by the Turkish Chess Federation in the past few years.

If you still want to support this pretty young chess player, you can still vote for her. Do it! The Neslihan Demir fans have been lobbying hard for their favourite. Voting ends on December 29.

Interview with Kübra Öztürk

Few days ago, Kübra visited the Atatürk Chess Centre in Ankara. TCF Press Officer and chess columnist of Sabah Newspaper, Özgür Akman, conducted a short interview with her.


Kübra dropped by the Turkish Chess Federation for this interview after school

Özgür Akman: When did you start playing chess?

Kübra Öztürk: I started playing chess when I was around 7-8 years old, with the encouragement of my teachers at school. My first chess trainer was Islam Osmanli. He is the one who made me fall in love with the game.

Akman: When did you play in your first tournament?

Öztürk: It was at the World Youth Championship [Girls U10 girls – O.A.] in 1999. I played in that event directly, without any qualification tournament. It was amazing for me to be participating in such an event at such an early age. My trainer promised my parents that I would achieve a gold medal some time in the future. I am glad his prophecy did not turn out to be wrong. I would like to thank him again for giving me that chance.

Akman: When did things get serious for you?

Özturk: When I started chess, it was just a hobby for me. However, with the increasing number of successes in Turkey, people around me and I started taking it seriously. Within one or two years I started taking chess much more seriously than a hobby.

Akman: Does your family support you?

Öztürk: From the moment I started moving the pieces until I got the gold medal!

Akman: How often and much do you study chess?

Öztürk: Two or three hours a day, with a computer. Once a week I study with my trainer Teoman Ulucan, for three to four hours.


WFM Kübra Öztürk at work. In case you are curious, the game she is
analysing is Atalik-Greenfeld, St.Lee Cup 1996.

Akman: How did chess become a passion for you? In which way did it contribute to your self-development?

Öztürk: The fact that it was a mind sport attracted me. Now, I think it is very important as a branch of sports. It taught me to be patient on board for many hours. It negates hatred and it also contributed to my math and science courses at school. The similarity between chess and life, the need to anticipate the future beforehand, is an important aspect that appeals me.

Akman: What are your future goals, both in life and chess?

Öztürk: I would have liked to become a genetic engineer, but that has changed now. I want to study law – in two years I will enter the University Entrance Exam. For chess I would like to win a medal, if not gold in World Championship, then at least I would like to be among the top ten women.

Akman: How is life for you as a young lady and a chess player? Is it difficult?

Öztürk: Life is difficult for any young chess player in Turkey. You have to be successful in school if you want to continue playing chess seriously. One must always work and develop oneself. There are not many woman players in Turkey at the moment, and in order to develop yourself you have to struggle with men. I think there will be more successful players in the future. I achieved a gold medal, but now I have to try even harder and try to win a gold medal in the World Championship in my category.


Struggling against men, part of her development as a chess player

Akman: What do you do in your spare time?

Öztürk: Actually I don’t have much spare time from studying for school and chess. But I love playing volleyball and like reading books.

Akman: What do you like reading?

Öztürk: I like reading Peyami Safa and Halide E. Adivar. [Safa and Adivar are two Turkish writers who lived in the first half of twentieth century. The former was a journalist and wrote novels about problems of modernization in Turkey, social changes during the late Ottoman Empire period and the early Turkish Republic period, while Adivar is one of the earliest prominent women figures of the earlier Republic who wrote novels about the War of Independence. – O.A. )

Akman: Who are your favorite players in chess?

Ozturk: Bobby Fischer.

Akman: How did you hear about your nomination for Sportsperson of the Year award?

Öztürk: My elder sister called me on the phone and she saw it on the Internet. As far as I know it is the first nomination for chess. This is an honor for me, and being in the top three in the voting is an even greater honor. My own and our Federation President’s nominations show that chess is becoming more popular in Turkey, and that chess players are saying, “We are also here!”


Kübra winning silver at the Turkish Championship 2007(!), which was
played last month. Behind her in the picture is her father.

Akman: What do you think about your chances of winning? What do you think about your opponents?

Öztürk: I hope I will remain in the top three. I follow the games of Neslihan Demir, she is a great player and I really admire her. But even if I don’t win the award this year, I think that I will have good chances of winning it if I bring a medal home from the World Championship. I also hope our President will win the award.

Akman: Thanks for the interview, Kübra. Good luck in the future.

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