An Introduction to Turkish Opening Strategy

by Richard Hucknall

Like England, Turkey has a corner position on the board, and this has both advantages and disadvantages. It is difficult for Turkey to be winkled out if he is forced on the defensive, but it is also difficult for him to break out of his corner position, which he must do if he hopes to have any chance of getting to eighteen supply centres. 

Perhaps Turkish opening moves require less diplomacy than any other country. A(Con) should always go to Bul and has done so in most recorded games. F(Ank) should always go to BLA unless Turkey is certain that Russia will not move there. Neither Russia nor Turkey can afford to let the other into BLA so a pre-arranged stand-off there is probably the best option. This just leaves A(Smy). 

It is the action of A(Smy) that gives Turkey the most food for thought. The only real choice is between moving to Arm or Con. The move to Arm is arguably the best as Turkey wins most of his postal games following this opening. It immediately puts pressure on Russia even assuming there has been a stand of f over BLA. In the autumn, Russia will be looking to take Rum and if his F(Sev) is to be used to support an attack from Ukr or Gal, the A(Arm) can cut this support. Furthermore, Turkey would almost certainly take BLA unopposed. Should Russia elect to support his F(Sev)-Rum then he will need to tie up another unit – A(Mos) or A(Ukr) – to stand off the Turkish move A(Arm)-Sev. Indeed Turkey may, in fact, just stand in Arm and Russia may find that Sev is not open for a build and thus would not be able to build the second fleet necessary to evict the Turkish F(BLA). 

The move A(Smy)-Con is, of course, the best back-up for the move A(Con)-Bul. With this move Turkey is hoping to pick up a second build by moving A(Bul) on to Gre or Rum or even Ser in the autumn. Gre is often available as Italy should not risk a stand-off over Gre at the expense of taking Tunis. Also Austria is often committed to defend against Italy or Russia allowing Turkey to take Gre. Rum can sometimes be taken, but this may require Austrian support. 

Perhaps Turkey’s best ally is Russia. Between them they can take the Balkans and Austria leaving separate routes for expansion so that Turkey takes Italy while Russia goes north. However, a solution must be found for Russia’s southern fleet which must either rust in its Rum or Sev anchorage or be shepherded through Con in a Spring season – a tactic requiring a good deal of trust -if the alliance is to prosper. The big danger is that once Austria is defeated then Russia and Italy will have Turkey surrounded and may launch a joint attack. An alliance with Austria has the advantage that when Russia is no longer a threat in the south, Austria may move north and is open to a stab from Turkey as and when he feels fit. An alliance with Italy may be useful may be useful particularly to eliminate Austria. But once this has been accomplished then Italy has to be persuaded to move against France or conflict between Italy and Turkey is inevitable. 

Turkey is not the best country to play and it is imperative he breaks out of his homeland fairly quickly if he is to have any great impact on the game. My own ambition as Turkey, is to launch a pincer attack on Russia by arranging a convoy of A(Smy)-StP! Actually, the sheer pleasure that such a move would give would outweigh the pleasure of winning a game!