Chess in Turkey – It’s Bankasi’s birthday

A note on the name of the country we all know as Turkey: Two months ago the United Nations changed the internationally recognized name of the country from Turkey to Türkiye (pronounced turkey-yay). In this article, in order not to confuse readers, we will use colloquial Turkey and Turkish.

The sponsorship of İş Bankası was a historic step not only for Turkish chess but also for world chess since the result greatly affected chess in schools, organizations, international events, etc.

The sponsorship agreement between İş Bankası and the Turkish Chess Federation (TCF) is in its 17th year. This is the longest corporate sponsorship given to a federation in chess history.

Let’s see what has changed for Turkish chess in these 17 years:

Before İş Bankasi From İş Bankasi
Medals 1 bronze medal at the European Youth Championships More than 100 medals in various European and world events
Players Less than 300 Elo-rated players 47,109 Elo-rated players
Titled players 1GM, 1WGM, 7IM, 1WIM 13 GSM, 29 IM, 3 WGM, 5 WIM
Chess Olympiads

50th place in open section, 53rd place in women’s section

6th place in open section, 24th place in women’s section

Organized events

1 Chess Olympiad, 2 European events

1 Chess Olympiad, more than 100 European and World Championships

Due to the involvement of İş Bankası, chess became a national sport in Turkey, especially after the bank offered a free license to play chess to all members of Turkish Chess Federations. The bank has undertaken a number of major media campaigns to promote chess in Turkey. Here are some promotional campaigns carried out in prime time for chess.

Notable Activities

  • İş Bankası printed school chess manuals for children and teachers, and also translated many chess books, publishing them in Turkish, for example My great predecessors (Volume 1) by Gary Kasparov, all study books by GM Seirewan, etc. ChessBase’s tutorials Fritz and Chester (“Cingöz and Fındık” in Turkish) were also released.
  • İş Bankası hosted Atatürk Women Grandprix in the main building, which was the first version of FIDE Women GP. The Turkish Chess Federation started the FIDE Women’s GP initiative in 2006. Later it became FIDE Women’s GP and still continues.
  • İş Bankası has held a children’s chess festival every year since becoming its sponsor.

The Bank is not a traditional sponsor, spending money in exchange for access to new customers. During the 17 years, the bank has a great motivation to support chess using cooperation as an educational project. The management of the Bank has changed several times, but the sponsorship has always been retained and has become a corporate tradition for İş Bankası. In 2015, during the renewal ceremony (for six more years), Ersin Özince, chairman of the board of directors, said: “2005 was a turning point for Turkish chess, with the decision of the Ministry of Education to accept chess as an elective course in primary education. Since then, we have been supporting Turkish chess, which was underrated before 2005.”

Adnan Bali, the Chairman of the Board of Directors today, as Managing Director, made the following comment on the same day of the ceremony: “I believe deep in my heart that our efforts to make Turkey a country of chess will in the future produce greater success for our country in this eminent sport.”

Now Mr. Bali is the chairman of the board and there is a new general manager, Mr. Hakan Aran. The names change, but the support for chess gets better every year. At this year’s sponsorship renewal ceremony in February 2022, Hakan Aran said:

“We are like a family. We took the first step in 2005 to make Turkey a chess country, and this initiative has made chess an easily accessible and popular sport for our nation. I am so happy and proud to how far we have come in these 17 years, with the support of our ministry of sports and the remarkable efforts of the federation. By signing the renewal contract today, we will be supporting chess for more than 20 years.

Touching the lives of thousands of children and opening new horizons for them is so precious to us at İş Bankası. When our players crown their success with medals and world victories, we feel more proud to be part of this family. I strongly believe that our children will be more successful in the recent future.”

Connections

A young Turkish player receives the first support from İş Bankasi in 2007

World class coaches GM Adrian Michalchichin and Efstratios Grivas working with Turkish chess girls, in Antalya 2007

Sample ChessBase Reports

Here are some of the countless reports we have filed on chess in Turkey.

Antalya – an invitation to chess
02/08/2007 – Turkey is rapidly becoming a hotbed of chess. From January 28 to February 3, the Turkish Youth Championship with 1300 participants was held in Antalya, at the same time and place where the FIDE Presidential Council met. Everything took place in a beautiful hotel complex on the Mediterranean coast. We bring you the first part of our illustrated report.

Antalya – an invitation to Chess Part II
16/02/2007 – During our recent visit to Antalya, we had the opportunity to witness a very moving spectacle: 1,300 children taking part in the Turkish youth championship, in age groups between 8 and 18 year. The venue, a five-star resort, was overwhelmed with children playing chess, some showing remarkable skill, all showing great enthusiasm.

World Youth Chess Championship in Antalya
18/11/2007 – This is one of the biggest events of its kind in the world, the starting point for new chess talents, a gathering of young chess players, 1450 of them from 103 countries worldwide. The tournament in twelve separate categories is held in twelve age groups for boys and girls. A warm welcome awaited us upon our arrival in the Turkish Mediterranean town of Kemer-Antalya. Big report in pictures.

Junior World Championship in Antalya
24/11/2009 – A total of 1324 participants from 90 countries took part in six age groups, for boys and girls, at this World Youth Championship in Turkey. A big success for the host country was the bronze medal for local talent Kübra Öztürk in the girls U18 section. A protest was filed by the Israel Chess Federation as no anthem was played for the winner of the Girls U14 section.

Istanbul Chess Olympiad – The Youngest Turkish Teams Ever
06/20/2012 – During a Chess Olympiad, the host country has the right to field three teams. Typically, the third team will have over 2500 GMs. This is not the case in Istanbul, where the Turkish Chess Federation gives youngsters a chance. The average age of the third team in the Open category is – 8.2 years! They can get crushed by Morozevich and Grischuk in the first round, but watch them play against lesser nations.

Istanbul Chess Olympiad 2012: Round Three
08/30/2012 – During the first “Clash of the Titans”, we saw a number of kills on board one that led to the team’s victory. The dynamics of this are explained to us by GM Alejandro Ramirez, who chose such a victory on the board for his match of the day – in the women’s section. Andrew Martin shows us a defeat of veteran Alexander Beliavsky against young Indian GM Pentala Harikrishna in his video analysis.

Istanbul Chess Olympiad 2012: Round Three
08/30/2012 – During the first “Clash of the Titans”, we saw a number of kills on board one that led to the team’s victory. The dynamics of this are explained to us by GM Alejandro Ramirez, who chose such a victory on the board for his match of the day – in the women’s section. Andrew Martin shows us a defeat of veteran Alexander Beliavsky against young Indian GM Pentala Harikrishna in his video analysis.

Chess Olympiad 2012 in Istanbul: Closing Ceremony
9/10/2012 – Closing celebrations of the 40th Chess Olympiad took place after the final round, with medals going to Armenia, Russia and Ukraine in the Open section, and to Russia, China and Ukraine for women. We have some interesting statistics on the best players in the event – guess who has a performance of 2880 in ten games!

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