In this day and age, playing in long lasting tournaments is quite hard for chess enthusiasts. Routine working obligations rarely give them permission to take part in tournaments, even if they really look forward to participating. Even chess trainers or instructors usually cannot play, because of their training duties. Therefore, most of them play online, and follow their favorite players’ performances at the top tournaments to fulfill their enjoyment.
Although internet is a precious gift for chess lovers, it certainly would not compensate the good old atmosphere of chess clubs. The joy of meeting long-time friends and rivals, chatting (sometimes even making fun of) with each other is certainly incomparable. But what if the chess clubs in your city only act like chess training places for the youngsters?
It won’t be wrong to say that, this is the current situation of chess in most of Turkey. With the emergence of new grandmasters, the national teams’ performances is getting higher and higher everyday. Also many juniors win medals in age-categorized international tournaments. That’s of course the bright side; but the ‘amateurs’ still miss the chess clubs!
Several chess friends in Karsiyaka decided to give it a try to change this going. But before the story, let me introduce our beloved Karsiyaka. Karsiyaka is a district in Izmir province of Turkey. With more than 315.000 inhabitants, the district looks like European cities.
Karsiyaka Blitz Chess Tournaments Begin!
Some months ago, Turkish Chess Federation’s current agent in Karsiyaka, Ilgaz Gumustas started to organize local blitz tournaments for this ‘nostalgic’ matter. Ilgaz is a regular chess columnist in one of the widely-known newspapers. Also, he is the author of several chess books, dealing with solving exercises. But where could be the venue for these events? Evvel Zaman Icinde Cafe (=Cafe Once Upon a Time) generously decided to host the tournaments without demanding any rent or something. Initially these tourneys were played just for fun by 15-16 local players, without even giving prizes to winners. Gathering with friends was the main motivation in playing these events.
Slowly but surely, the interest towards this 3-hours-long activity got higher and higher, mostly thanks to the-ever-active Facebook page. A week before the start of the tournament, an initial list of players are posted. Whoever wants to play tells ‘I’m in!’ and each morning the list is updated.
After seeing the increase of interest towards this tournament, it was decided to make these tournaments official with Blitz Elo registration. The tournaments shall be held twice a month. There should also be a limit for the number of the participants, so 9 rounds/32 players formula is decided. From then on, players would pay small entry fees, but all of the money gathered should be distributed to the winners. No profit for the organizers was the main principal. If an additional contributor, or a sponsor would be found, then the prizes or the quality level would be increased. Quality level? Who would not want to play with high-quality wooden Staunton chess sets, even if it’s only a blitz game? The organization has already started to buy wooden chess sets for this event.
Last Tournament in 2014: What a Wonderful Event It Was!
Chess enthusiasts, not only in Karsiyaka, but in whole Izmir, decided to make this last event of 2014 something memorable. In addition to the money prizes, some new year presents were to be distributed to all participants. A theater ticket was one gift from Sarven Cakmak, a chess friend living in Istanbul. Chess publishing house Analiz Yayincilik’s gift was Aronian’s favorite chess book (Attack with Mikhail Tal) to the best performer according to his/her rating. ISEM Chess Center gave 2015 calendars & keychains to all the participants. Mind games to all the participants and a digital chess clock was recently founded Guzelyali Chess Club’s gift of new year’s bingo.
Seeing this solidarity among chess friends, some of country’s strongest players living in Izmir wanted to join the event voluntarily. To name a few, IM Burak Firat (2486), IM Mert Yilmazyerli (2465), 16-year-old IM Vahap Sanal (2460), 10-times Turkish Women’s Champion WGM Betul Cemre Yildiz (2308), FM Melih Yurtseven (2386) were present. In total: 1 WGM, 3 IMs, 3 FMs total 7 titled players for 32. Not bad for a local blitz tournament, isn’t it?
Just before the start of the tournament, chess players wanted celebrate two recent great news: IM Ogulcan Kanmazalp scored his 3rd GM norm in Zadar Chess Tournament! IM Vahap Sanal was the star of Turkish national team in U-16 Chess Olympiad in Hungary, 1st place for board 1! 2 separate cakes were cut to symbolise the celebration!
After all the celebrations and stuff, the real fun began. It was a really hard-fought tournament. The cameras recorded all the action at the top board. Here is two samples for your enjoyment. You can find the rest of them in the YouTube page.
Although Vahap won this game, the 1st place was for Mert after tie-breaks.
A double-edged battle between two highest-rated players. In the end, Mert’s queenside attacked proved to be much stronger.
After 9 rounds, Mert and Vahap clearly separated themselves from the rest of the field. Below was the final standings.
And now, some photos from the memorable tournament.
After the tournament ended, all the players and contributors gathered to give a new year’s photo for the followers!
The next tournament will be held this Sunday, on 11th of January. Who will be there, and who will be the winner, we do not know. But the good-old atmosphere of chess clubs will certainly be there…