December 26, 2022, Mersin, Türkiye – The final round of the first ROSATOM Regional Chess Tournament completed in Ulu hotel, Gülnar, Mersin Province on December 24.
The Tournament was organized in cooperation with the Turkish Chess Federation (TSF) and Rosatom State Corporation. The final event kicked off with the welcome speeches made by Dmitry Romanets, AKKUYU NUCLEAR JSC Deputy Director for the NPP under construction, TSF Vice president Aşkın Keleş, Mersin Provincial Representative Ömer Faruk Ercan. The event was attended by one of the strongest female chess players in Türkiye, Women Grandmaster (WGM) and a Chess National Team player Kübra Öztürk Örenli, TSF Vice President Ömer Asım Ötegen, and Silifke District Governor Abdullah Aslaner.
36 players qualified for the finals after winning the qualifiers held in Mersin Centre, Tarsus, Silifke, Bozyazı, Erdemli, and Aydıncık districts on 10-18 December. This is the first private regional chess championship and one of the region's largest, with nearly 800 players took part in the competition.
The winner in the first, “under 8” age, category is Mersin’den Mert Şahin from Mersin, Kaan Ege Kaya from Tarsus came in second and Miraç Karakurt from Mersin came in third. The winner of the second category, 9-12 age group, is Kayra Tamer Şen from Tarsus while Yusuf Timuçin Şeyhanlı from Silifke and Ilgın Deniz Eroğlu from Mersin came second and third respectively. The champions of the tournament received memorable prizes and the gratuity. The youngest player received a special prize from AKKUYU NUCLEAR.
Within the scope of the tournament, 150 chess sets and 75 chess clocks were distributed to the players. TSF President Gülkız Tulay: "Every step taken for chess means a lot to our future" Gülkız Tulay, TSF President addressed the players and participants at the ceremony via a video message. Tulay congratulated the players and said, “We are happy to mark meaningful cooperation with Rosatom, one of the world's most powerful technology leaders, in Mersin. Russia is one of the first countries that comes to mind when chess is mentioned. Happily, Türkiye is now one of the countries that come to mind when chess is mentioned. Rosatom is now a member of the Turkish chess family. I believe that this friendship we have started with Rosatom will strengthen the cooperation between the two countries in chess and evolve into new projects. I sincerely congratulate all our players who ranked in this championship, which was held with very wide participation, by showing a great effort.” Tulay thanked those who contributed to the organization of the tournament and stated: “Mersin is a city that stands out in chess and raises many champions who do our country proud. For example, in the 2022 World Age Group Chess Championship, our national player Senem Gül Başsarı from Mersin did Türkiye proud by ranking second in the world in the 10-Year-Old Girls category with the same score as the winner. This city also plays a pilot role in many of our projects. The great interest and excitement in our city thanks to this tournament, which we organized with the support of Rosatom, shows how much the city loves chess. Türkiye is on its way to becoming a chess country. We are the federation with the highest number of licensed players in the country. According to the data, one out of every 10 players in our country is a chess player. Our goal is to introduce more children to chess and make this sport more widespread. Chess is a sport that opens the doors of a new world for children and opens new horizons. Our children who are introduced to chess learn to struggle for their goals and dreams, strategy, planning, disciplined work and not giving up. Success is the reward of those who work hard and do not give up. The real success of chess is the positive change in the lives of children who meet chess. Every step taken and every support given for chess means a lot to our future. We see the investment in this sport as an investment in the future of this country. We sincerely believe that as Turkish chess develops, this country will win, and its energy will always be alive."
Dmitry Romanets, AKKUYU NUCLEAR JSC Deputy Director for the NPP under construction: “We will continue to support Mersin in every field” Dmitry Romanets, AKKUYU NUCLEAR JSC Deputy Director for the NPP under construction stated that they were very happy with the interest shown by the people of Mersin in the tournament and said “Rosatom State Corporation is a corporation of knowledge, the development of the intellectual potential of our employees is one of the important missions of the company. Therefore, we gladly accepted the invitation of the Chess Federation to organize a chess tournament and are very pleased that such an interesting and unprecedented regional tournament in terms of the number of participants has turned out. Russia is one of the strongest countries in the world in chess. Many Russian chess masters are role models for chess players. But we are also the strongest in nuclear technologies with over 75 years of experience in nuclear sector. We were happy to witness the synergy of these two pillars today. With this tournament, we have seen how much the people of Mersin and, especially its young generation, love this sport. We want to support the further spread of chess in this city and the emergence of new champions. Akkuyu NPP, Türkiye's first nuclear power plant, we are constructing in the province, is investing a lot into the development of both the region and the country and the Tournament we’ve seen today proves it as a perfect example."
TSF Mersin Provincial Representative Ömer Faruk Ercan: “We are proud of Rosatom's support” TSF Mersin Provincial Representative Ömer Faruk Ercan noted that the support provided by Rosatom is very meaningful and proud for the people living in this region and stated: "The tournament, which was attended by nearly 800 players, broke new ground by being played in 6 different districts in two categories. This tournament started at a different end of the Mediterranean and spread like a folding fan all the way to Antalya. During the tournament, which took place in six stages, parents and players expressed that they were very happy with the tournament, that they requested the tournament to be held every year, that the contribution given was very important, and that the medals given to everyone had a great effect. As I find it very meaningful for our children to play chess for their mental sports development, I also find it very important for them to visit and observe Akkuyu NPP, which stands right next to us as an indicator of development of the region. We believe that this project implemented by Rosatom will lead the development of our country and our region in the coming years. As Mersin Chess Family, we extend our thanks and gratitude to Rosatom and Akkuyu Nuclear officials."
Famous Grandmaster created a stir WGM Kübra Öztürk Örenli, the special guest of the tournament, had a colorful and exciting interview with the players after the tournament. Örenli, the successful national player who broke a record that is hard to break by becoming the European champion two years in a row, told the young people of Mersin about her 'grandmaster journey'. Stating that she started chess at the age of 7, the master player said: “When I started chess, I had to struggle against impossibilities. I did not have a computer and I used to study chess alternately with my friends from a limited number of chess books. The chess center opened in front of my house was a turning point in my journey. The center gave me free chess training and supported me to participate in championships. Sponsors are very important in chess, as in all sports branches. You are more fortunate than us in accessing chess and receiving chess training. Besides, Mersin residents have very important supporters like Rosatom, which represents the Russian school. Organizing such a championship and providing material support such as chess sets and clocks to each district is very meaningful for Mersin chess. Now it is up to Mersin players to work harder and participate in more tournaments. I am sure that with the support of Rosatom, chess in Mersin will reach very different levels and master players from Mersin will take their place in the history of Turkish chess.”
AKKUYU NUCLEAR organized a special visit to the construction site of the nuclear power plant for all finalists and their parents on December 25. Participants started the tour with an occupational safety training followed by the site tour. Maxim Kucherenko, AKKUYU NUCLEAR JSC Construction Division Manager, who was the tour guide, showed the Eastern Marine Cargo Terminal, where ships from different countries bring equipment for the nuclear power plant; the world's most powerful crawler crane Liebherr LR 13000 where young chess players even had a chance to sit in the crane operator's chair.
The construction specialists showed the children how to operate such construction equipment as dump trucks, excavators, loaders. The guests of the construction site visited the fire department of AKKUYU NUCLEAR and the highest point of the site at an altitude of 200 meters above sea level. From there, a picturesque panorama opens up allowing a chance to see the enormous scale of the construction.
During the tour AKKUYU NUCLEAR CEO Spokesman and Director for Communications, Vasiliy Korelsky, made a presentation about the social, cultural and sports activities the company carries out as part of the Akkuyu NPP Project. He emphasized that Akkuyu NPP contributes not only to the economic development of the region but also to social life of the community, supporting many environmental and educational initiatives. 8-year old champion Şahin: “My goal is to become Mersin's first Grand Master” 8-year-old player Mert Şahin from Mersin who became the champion in the “under 8 years” category, expressed his feelings: “I am happy that I became champion. I was most excited in the first round because I was afraid of losing. The next rounds went well. I got 4.5 points. The fact that such a tournament was organized in Mersin [Province] made me both excited and happy. My goal is to become the first Grand Master of Mersin."
Kayra Tamer Şen, the champion in the “9-12” age group from Tarsus, stated, “I would like to thank Rosatom for organizing the tournament. I am very happy, I hope I will win other tournaments. I am on my way to becoming the champion of Türkiye. My goal is to become the World Champion. I want to be a chess player when I grow up. My advice to those younger than me is to work hard."
"We would like to thank Rosatom and Akkuyu Nuclear JSC for organizing the chess tournament and the visit to the nuclear power plant. We are very happy. I was most interested in the giant cranes and the fire brigade unit” stated Yiğit Yönet, one of the players”.
Yağız Efe Birçek, one of the players, said about the site visit: “The Akkuyu NPP site is huge. I would like to work here as a firefighter.”
Serhat Toklu, parent of Atlas Toklu, one of the players competing, said: “As a chess family, we came here from Bozyazı and Anamur. I would like to thank Rosatom, Akkuyu Nuclear JSC and the Turkish Chess Federation for the interest shown to us. Indeed, there is a very different ambience here. It was a different atmosphere for our children. We have seen the great benefit of chess in terms of socializing children.”
Regarding the visit to the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) site, Toklu said, “We had very different feelings because we saw such a large construction site for the first time. It is not everyone's chance to visit this place, but it was our chance. We would like to thank the authorities for this.” Duygu Demir, the parent of Kuzey Demir, one of the players participating in the tournament, expressed her feelings as follows: “We would like to thank Rosatom and Akkuyu Nuclear JSC for organizing a visit to Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant. It is a very good experience. There is a huge investment. We listened to the information given with excitement. One of the beauties of the tournament was to visit Akkuyu NPP. It doesn't matter whether we got a degree in the tournament or not, we had an incredible visit. The children are happy, we are happy as parents.”