By Engin Ozekinci
KONYA, Turkey (AA) - Turkish chess players received more than 40 tournament medals in 2019, as the number of chess players in the country continues to skyrocket, according to the head of the Turkish Chess Federation.
Federation President Gulkiz Tulay told Anadolu Agency that neither age nor handicap could prevent taking part in the sport.
"As the federation, we prioritize young people and organizing tournaments to help prepare them to become grandmasters. Two international chess tournaments we hosted this year -- the European Women's Individual Chess Championship and World School Chess Championship -- really resonated," Tulay said.
She added that many Turkish chess players got the opportunity during these tournaments to compete against other players from across the globe, adding: "We now have four Turkish chess teams participating in the European Junior Chess Championship."
- Over 40 medals in international tournaments
Tulay said municipalities also supported the sport by organizing the tournaments in their cities.
Underlining that once the game spread across the nation, the interest of young people in particular began to surge with each passing day.
"In the past, only around 1,500 players from 50 provinces would play in the Turkish age Groups' Chess Championships. Over the past three years, 2,600 players have been participating in the championship from 81 provinces," she added.
"We won more than 40 medals and the number of medals we earn increases substantially each year," Tulay said, adding: "Most recently, we returned from the European School Chess Championship with eight medals."
- Number of chess players reaches nearly 1 million
Tulay stressed that the federation was pleased with the current situation of chess in Turkey.
"We are among the top countries in terms of the number of players in the world. While we had 200,00 players in 2012, today this number is around 1 million. In addition, while there were only 65 professional clubs in 2012, we currently have 129 teams to compete in the leagues. This number shows how far chess has come in Turkey," she said.
*Writing by Muhamed Enes Calli