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Chess Camp by Rakesh Kulkarni at the Hangouts Place, Pune

by Aditya Pai - 29/08/2017

Pratik Mulay, a sub-2000 rated player from Pune, came up with an excellent idea to hang out with his chess friends while learning the game at the same time. He set up a place for all chess players to hang out, play weekend tournaments and learn the game at a snooker parlor in his locality. As the place's popularity grew, Pratik collaborated with IM elect Rakesh Kulkarni and organized a chess camp to help everyone who is keen to learn the game. Here's a peek into what happened there.

The Hangout Place, in Chinchwad, Pune, is a place for chess players to spend some fun time with one another, play chess and sharpen their skills. Every weekend, they conduct Opening themed tournaments where all players play the same opening and thus enhance their knowledge of it.


The second edition of the Hangouts camp in progress

Another one of their initiatives is a monthly chess camp. IM elect Rakesh Kulkarni was invited to conduct the second edition of these monthly camps. In this three-day comprehensive camp held from 23rd to 25th of June, 2017, the attendees indulged in topics like tactics training, speed calculation training, etc. Rakesh also threw light on how openings should be prepared; how one can evaluate and analyze their own games; how and what one can learn from the classics and so forth. Besides this, the participants received psychological tips for tournament play along with overall tournament play training. Moreover, Rakesh also shared his knowledge on theoretical endgames and their practical application.

Day 1

On the first day itself, Rakesh plunged into the most crucial aspect of chess playing for all club class players – calculation.

In the first five hour session of this three-day camp (which of course had a 20-minute break), Rakesh shed light on imagination and calculation in chess. This was done in a very practical manner deploying a number of positions in which students had to dig right into the position and calculate. This was followed by tips on how one should think in different types of positions and the techniques one could put to use to make the process easier. Towards the end of the day, the participants were made to focus on endgame training.

What's a better response to Black's last move? The simple 28. Be5 or 28. Qg3?

Day 2

Day 2 began with some tactical sharpening via ChessBase’s tactics trainer. This segment mainly concentrated on speed calculation. Moving ahead, the students learned about a number of openings and how one should prepare them. And finally, to end the day, the attendees indulged yet again in some calculation training – but this time with a difference. In this segment, Rakesh elucidated upon how strong players find moves which are almost invisible to the eyes of the amateur. The segment consisted of several studies which helped players widen their imagination and find “out of the box” moves which tend to have a touch of connoisseurship.


Can you find the perfect route for the knight train? The knight must capture all the black pawns. But mind you, every knight move must be a capture. 

Day 3

The first thing that was done on the third and final day of the camp was something that every Grandmaster recommends – studying classic games. Rakesh not only took his students through some great classics but also analyzed the games thoroughly with them. Having grasped some key concepts from this treasury of games, the students were taught about the importance of correctly evaluating a position and how one can do it. Some training on positional play followed this. In this segment, Rakesh elaborated on certain key positional concepts like when or when not to exchange etc. To wrap things up, Rakesh had a Q & A session with the students and tried to solve their doubts to the best of his ability. Below is one of the games that was used to show how one should NOT exchange pieces.



The camp had a significant impact on its attendees. Shortly after attending the camp, one of its participants, Ranveer Mohite, finished fourth at the National Under-25 held in Andaman and Nicobar Islands in July this year. Another one of the camp’s attendees, Sarvesh Sawant completed his initial rating performance and got a rapid and blitz rating at the All Maharashtra Rapid State Selection Tournament held in Mumbai this month.


Sharing his thoughts about the camp, IM elect Rakesh Kulkarni said, “I had a great experience doing this camp. This was my 2nd camp here and it was wonderful. I feel it's my responsibility and also my pleasure to share all the chess knowledge and understanding I have gained through the years and share my valuable inputs with these dedicated students.”


Talking about his experience at the camp, the fourth prize winner at National U-25 Championship, Ranveer Mohite said, “Hangout place was a great venue for the camp. Most importantly it was comfortable. Coming to the camp itself, Rakesh is an excellent player and coach. His style of teaching is very easy to understand & material which he had selected for the camp was amazing and helpful. The most instructive moment was watching Tiviakovs games. The only problem for me was distance but attending the camp was beneficial.”


The camp and the Hangouts Place, overall, is the brainchild of Pratik Mulay, a sub-2000 FIDE rated player from Pune, while the training camp’s organization was done by both him and Rakesh Kulkarni. With this venture, the duo is trying to help budding players get quality training without having to dig deep into their pockets.


In the future, Pratik and Rakesh wish to conduct more such camps and include many more GMs and IMs as tutors at their monthly camp. Also on their list is the idea for conducting camps for beginners too.


1. Knight Train

We'd like you to give this position a try. Please leave your answers in comments.


2. What's the better move?



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