Photo Credit Tansel Turgut
Representing U.S. in Greece
October 25, 2018

At the age of 14, Aydin Turgut is considered a master of his craft. He is now in Halkidki, Greece, working to improve his standing.

Turgut ’22 (Decatur, Ill.) is representing the United States at the World Youth Chess Championship through Oct. 31. Playing in the 14-and-under class, he started the tournament ranked 41st in the 132-player division.

Turgut qualified for the tournament by finishing second in the national championship this spring. The top two players in the U14, U16, and U18 age groups and the girls division advanced to the world tournament. There is also an open class. The Swiss-style, 11-round tournament is seeded based on the player’s ranking. International play is nothing new to Turgut, who has traveled to South Africa, Brazil, Greece, Slovenia, and Georgia to compete.

Playing competitively since he was six years old, Turgut has already captured titles at the third, fifth, and sixth grade levels. Each game lasts 90 minutes to two hours, he said, and they set a 30-second timer after each move. Approximately 600 players representing 90 countries are in Greece for the world championships.

He was taught the game by his father, who taught himself to play using old newspaper columns while growing up in Turkey, the younger Turgut said. “I started showing an interest when I was five, so he decided to teach me how to play. He is still just a little ahead of me.”

Turgut hovers between the Candidate Master and Master level according to the World Chess Federation (Federation Internationale des Eches). He is considered a National Master by U.S. Chess. But, while the titles “are considered a sign of respect,” having one doesn’t mean that much to him.

He follows the Elo system. It is the primary system used by both FIDE and U.S. Chess. His rating has been as high as 2300 nationally and 2250 internationally, which places him in the top 20 nationally and in the top 10 percent in the 14-and-under age group worldwide. The rating fluctuates based on the tournaments he plays in during the year. He tries to compete in one sanctioned tournament every month.

Points are determined by whether the tournament is national or international, which tends to favor the European players, who can travel country to country more frequently than U.S. players. That is why there is a difference in the ratings, he explained.

Prior to the tournament, Turgut worked with a coach online twice a week. He also played other people and studied tactics online as well. And while his hometown of Decatur may not fit the mold of a chess hotbed, Turgut said it is ideally located between the major competition centers of Chicago and St. Louis.

Chess is considered one of the most popular games in the world. U.S. Chess has 85,000 members, while FIDE has 360,000 active tournament members. Chess.com has more than 20 million people registered and estimates on the number of people who play chess for fun range from 200 to 300 million.

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