by Sevan Muradian, founder of NACA
The 2010 World School Individual Chess Championships has been underway for the past 3 days in the beautiful city of Kayseri, Turkey. At this well executed event (more on this later), I have been fulfilling the role of Deputy Chief Arbiter for the Girls U7, U9, U11, U13, U15, and U17 sections. I was invited to this event back in May by the President of the Turkish Chess Federation (TCF), Mr. Ali Nihat Yazici, who is also running a campaign for the post of European Chess Federation President.
I began my trip in my hometown of Chicago, IL on Monday evening with a late night flight to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines. I met a local Chicago family who spends the summers in Istanbul with one set of the grandparents so the children can experience their Turkish heritage. When they asked me why I was going and I told them about the chess tournament they were jazzed about it and I informed them of the great Chicago chess community that exists and how it would be great to get their girls involved.
Now this was my first trip to Turkey and the first time on Turkish Airlines but I have to say, of any of the trans-Atlantic flights I’ve been on with a variety of different airlines, they can all learn a lot about customer service and how to provide a fantastic customer experience from Turkish Airlines. During my flight I was able to catch up on a couple of movies that I had missed out on during the past few months, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and Ninja Assassin (2 thumbs up for Percy Jackson, 2 thumbs down for Ninja Assassin).
I reached Istanbul in the afternoon (Turkish time) and had to get through Passport Security quickly as there was only 90 minutes between flight times. Luckily I had received my Turkish visa in Chicago and didn’t have to stand in line to get an on-ground visa which Turkey allows. The line for Passport Security was massive as Istanbul is a popular travel destination from all corners of the globe but I got through it in only 25 minutes. My next flight to Kayseri was on-time for departure and very quickly I found myself waiting for my luggage and getting picked up by the shuttle service that the TCF had arranged. We were whisked away and in 15 minutes were at the Hilton Kayseri.
On the same evening as my arrival we had both the technical meeting which outlined all of the rules of the event to the different country delegation heads and also the arbiters meeting to go over assignments, introduce one another to the team, and get the layout of the venue. The event is not held at the Hilton Kayseri but instead is being held at the Kadir Has Spor Salonu, which will also play host to the 2010 FIBA World Championships a few days after the end of the World School Individual Chess Championships.
The playing space is the actual arena floor with the delegation families, friends, and coaches sitting in the stadium seating. The TCF set up enough equipment to handle 400 players and at last count I believe the event was at 360. A key component, which I’m using myself in my events now, is completely supplying boards, sets, and clocks to all players so they don’t have to worry about them and so arbiters only have to know how to operate 1 or 2 types of clocks. In the case of this event, we have 100 DGT boards with DGT XL clocks and 100 standard boards/sets with DGT 2010 clocks, all provided by the TCF. Each game on the DGT boards are being captured for both live relay and the tournament booklet. The TCF has a team of 5 people attending to the 100 DGT boards and the live broadcast.
Now let’s talk about the arbiter team and my experience thus far with the TCF arbiters. A simple way of putting it is that they a well-oiled and smooth running machine. There’s no other way to put it and you really have to experience them. They’ve run so many events together their methods are tested thoroughly and it shows in how smooth things have been running. Aside from the TCF arbiters we have 1 arbiter from each of Russia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Add me to the mix from the United States and we have 5 non-TCF arbiters here. You can take a look at a picture for the full arbiter staff at http://wscc2010.tsf.org.tr/images/zoom/JBNVNQ/img_1067.jpg
Of course we can’t skip over the kids. It’s so funny that no matter how much distance or language separates children from different countries you see them make the same chess mistakes or watch in amazement as they execute an endgame that most adults will miss out on. A few instances comes to mind like a little boy not knowing how to checkmate with a king and queen vs a lone king and ending in a stalemate, or a little girl who knows how to roll her rooks to victory. Of course there are always the swindlers too – those in the lost position that offer up a draw to their unsuspecting opponents who accept, just so they can run off an play ball.
But there was this one game, and once I get the game itself will provide the position that was interesting, where black had split pawns on the 3 rank and the white knight could only capture one while the other would slide to promotion, but at the other end of the board white had 2 connected pawns and the knight after capturing the split black c-pawn could get to his connected pawns to harass the black king. It was an interesting end game to watch (and mind you this was in the U7 division) that ended in a draw where white was able to calculate how to get himself out of the sticky widget even with black promoting his a-pawn to a queen.
Now the final thing to bring up is the food. There definitely is no lack of it and one of my purposes here was to get back to some basics of the food I grew up on. Being Armenian, we have a lot of shared middle eastern cuisines. There was one that I was specifically looking for called in Armenian Lahmahjoon or in Turkish called Lahmacun (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lahmacun). I could live off of this dish (well this and a couple more that I’ll be searching out). It was funny when I asked a couple of the Turkish arbiters about where I could find it in Kayseri and they laughed as not many visitors come looking for this but they understood given my heritage. Needless to say I’ve been gorging on this :)
Main Tournament Website – http://wscc2010.tsf.org.tr/