By Tashika, Year 10
We received an email from the English Chess Federation stating that I had been chosen as the “invited player” to represent England in the U14 Girls’ Category at The European Youth Chess Championships that was taking place in Antalya, Turkey. I was elated at the opportunity of having to represent England again. I knew that there would be some titled and very strong players there (such as WCM, WFM, FM etc.) from countries like Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkey etc, who are much better than me so I had been preparing and practicing on my opening, middlegame, endgames for hours and most importantly on my calculation skills.
We flew on 5th November, i.e. Saturday morning and arrived there in the evening due to a three hour difference between UK and Turkey. It was absolute chaos at the hotel as there were people and chess delegations from so many countries! We finally checked in at the hotel and although very exhausted from the journey, decided to have dinner with the rest of the English delegation. The food there was really good!
The next day was the opening ceremony and the first round. There was a Turkish band playing at the opening ceremony followed by inauguration of the games by the Turkish Minister of Youth and Sports, Mehmet Kasapoğlu. He gave a speech and informed the gathering that there were 2500 people including approximately 1000 chess players from 46 participating countries. The event was even covered by their media. The ceremony lasted an hour. Straight after, at 3pm Turkish time, the first round started. There were strict rules so players were not allowed to take any water or food and all players were scanned by metal detectors. This was so that none of the means like smart watches, hidden cameras etc, for cheating could be adopted in the games. I won my first game in around three hours. My mum and I then went for a walk on the beach, which was really nice especially due to the good weather. I went swimming in the pools and then we watched live professional dances hosted by the hotel. They were amazing.
The next eight days went along the same lines. My longest games lasted for 5 hours and my opponent (who was the top seed) and I were some of the last people out of the hall on a day. On the other hand, my shortest game lasted less than 2 hours, so I got a lot of time to relax and have fun. At the end I scored 6.5/9, my best international result yet. I came joint 3rd in terms of points but ended up 7th on tiebreaks out of 76 of Europe’s best girls of my age. I could’ve done better but there’s always a next time. It was a tournament I will remember for the rest of my life!