DECATUR - As he'll quickly say, Aydin Turgut is 6½ years old, and he does not like to lose.
He especially does not like to lose when it comes to chess, whether he's playing his father, Tansel Turgut, a world-ranked correspondence chess player, or whether he's competing against any one else, such as those he faced when he became state champion in the Illinois State Scholastic K-8 Chess Championship tournament in March. Aydin brought home a seven games/seven wins record in his age division, competing with 88 players in time-controlled 30-minute matches.
Aydin, a McGaughey School first grader, also came in first in his age group in the blitz - five-minute chess match - tournament, this time competing with 90 players. He shared third place in the kindergarten-to-eighth-grade level overall.
"One of the games I won, and I had nine seconds left," said Aydin, recalling the 30-minute games. He's proud that among those other first graders he defeated is the son of a chess grand master who lives in Chicago.
"He doesn't play video games," said his father. "He plays chess. He does a little bit of piano. He does a little bit of tennis," and there is some soccer in the mix, as well. But Aydin's routine, and down time in the classroom, relies heavily on chess. School mornings involve a half hour of chess and chess problem-solving before catching the school bus.
In problem solving, said his mother, Ava Turgut, chess pieces are positioned, and then the player has to come up with the best way to solve the problem. She said sending along chess to occupy Aydin's nonclasswork time is a good way of avoiding any problems with boredom.
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"(Aydin) loves competition," she said, adding she quit playing against him about a year ago and he has now passed on his red and blue chess set to his younger brother, Kaya, 3, who moves pieces around with their sister, Ella, 1½.
Now, Aydin goes on in May to the National Elementary (K-6) Championship in Dallas, Texas. In last year's nationals, his father said, there were 300 competitors in Aydin's age group.
Asked if he has a chess hero, Aydin grinned, then pointed at his father, though he also named a couple of others he admires.
Tansel Turgut is the highest ranking correspondence chess player in the United States, and he's continuing competition in a tournament which began a couple of years ago and will probably last another year.
In a recent match against his father, Aydin and Tansel Turgut played to a draw. It soon became apparent Aydin doesn't like draws, either.