Ali Nizhat Yazici: “There is no place for Kramnik and Topalov in Turkish team

The Turkish Chess Federation President Ali Nihat Yazici is confident that the Olympiad­-2012 in Istanbul will be held at the highest level, although he acknowledges that matching Khanty­-Mansiysk is not easy. The press­-conference was also attended by young members of the Turkish team Baris Esen and Emre Can.

– I admit that four years ago I was not sure about our choice of Khanty­-Maniysk. But now I am worried about being able to match the Olympiad­-2010 opening ceremony! Overall, this Olympiad can serve as a model for anyone who wants to organize such an event.
– Have you already started preparing for the Olympiad­-2012?
– Right now we are working on its terms. We have two options: November or late August. All the participants and guests of the Olympiad will be accommodated in 4– and 5­-star hotels. We should work out all the details by February 2011. I want to assure you that our budget is unlimited, and we are determined to do everything possible to organize the best Olympiad in the chess history.

CHESS AT SCHOOLS

– Everyone knows that chess in Turkey develops at a fantastic speed. Can you give us some numbers?
  – Of course. 2.25 million children have learnt chess in the last 5 years in primary schools. We have around 200 000 members of federation, 50 000 trainers. Federation budget was 6.5 million Euros in 2009, sponsorship was more than 1 million last year. We are planning to double these numbers in the next 2-­3 years.

– Does the program Chess at Schools work in Turkey?
– Yes.

– How did you manage to prove usefulness of teaching chess at schools?
– We did some research in internet and made several presentations, then adopted this information for our country and brought it to the attention of the government. Our goal is to develop the intellectual level of students and make them more competitive in their future life. We don't necessarily want raising grandmasters and champions. But by adding value with marketing chess in the country we make money and we achieve all aims for a federation.

– Does it impact your national team anyhow?
– Yes. As you can see, I came to the press­conference with two young members of the national team. They probably don't realize how much I am proud of them! So far we don't set super­ambitious goals, we just want to be in the Top­-20. But give us two more years, and our team will compete with the leading chess opponents. Some years ago there was only one International Master. He is 85 now... Today we have many young Grandmasters and there are more and more of them every year.

– Famous grandmaster Mikhail Gurevich played for Turkey a couple of years ago. What is his role now?

– Mikhail is a very good friend of mine and a brilliant player. Right now he is so to say responsible for the future of Turkish chess. He is in charge of training about 160 promising young chess players. Our junior team is playing at the European Championship in Batumi for the moment and I follow their progress attentively. They do good job there together with Misha.

– But why isn’t he playing in Khanty-­Mansiysk?
– The reason is that all members of our team should be under 30. This is a matter of principle. We will decrease this age to lower ages in the future.
– So if there was such a possibility, you wouldn’t take Kramnik or Topalov in your team?
– Right. As long as I am the President of the TCF, there won't be any players over 30 in our team. I assure you that soon we'll have our own young Kramnik and Topalov...

ON THE ELECTIONS

– You are running for the European Chess Union presidency. What is your main goal?
– Do you want a political answer or a real one? (laughing). To be honest, I became a bit bored within the TCF recently. We made a great work, and everything functions smoothly, like a Swiss watch. Now my main goal is to introduce our chess development scheme in European countries, taking local specifics into account, of course.

– Your main opponent at the elections is Silvio Danailov. Do you shake hands with him when you see each other?
– According to FIDE Regulations,chess players are to shake hands before and after the game. Silvio is a good friend of mine, I respect him and talk to him on every occasion. I have the same relations with the second candidate, Robert von Weinzsacker. These are democratic elections, and as a true politician, I have never envied anyone. At the same time I am confident that I will win the elections in the first round. If I don't get 50% of votes, I will have to think about mistakes in my campaign.

– Who is your favorite at the FIDE President elections?
– I was one of the first to support Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Of course, Anatoly Karpov is a chess legend. I even have his portrait at home. Looking at the portrait makes me happy. But you can't compare Karpov and Ilyumzhinov. You know, a person who didn't manage more than one person, cannot be a president. We are not gamblers. We did not find chess on the street like a coin, why should we try to toss it. Kirsan has proven that he is a successful manager. He has a clear program that is supported by chess players all over the world.