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Microsense Kramnik Gelfand Program Day 2: To become a good chess player, just chess is not enough

by Sagar Shah - 10/01/2020

"If you can keep improving your chess skills each day, you will become one of the best players in the world". While this is an extremely logical statement to make, I would say it is incomplete. Chess improvement involves much more than simply chess! And top players know it the best. That's the reason why at the Microsense Kramnik Gelfand Training camp special emphasis has been placed on matters beyond the chess board as well. The food that is being consumed by the players and the trainers is being carefully prepared by expert chefs. An expert yoga instructor visits the premises each day to make sure that the day begins with physical as well as mental fitness. Check out this article to find out how in order to become a good chess player, just chess is not enough!

The naive chess player thinks - in order to improve at chess, you must work hard on just chess. The experienced chess player knows that in order to become a better chess player, you need to work on many factors beyond even the chess board. Chess is a psychological sport. To have your body and mind functioning at an optimum level is a pre-requisite in order to play good chess. Yet, we have innumerable examples where people have spent all their energy working on chess, on different openings, middlegames and endgames and when they go to an event, their neck, back or some part of the body is paining. Also often, mentally they are so drained out that there is no creative energy left for any work to be done. With the Microsense Kramnik Gelfand Training Program we are trying to avoid this burnout. Yes, the main aim is chess and six hours of intensive training is being imparted to the 14 youngsters by Kramnik and Gelfand, but apart from that also there are several things which are being done, to make sure that the kids are in the optimum frame of mind.


You have to understand this extremely important concept that the food you eat determines your mood during the game. Hence, it is extremely important to have a well chalked out plan as to what you would be eating during a tournament/ training session. In the case of the training camp an ex-oberoi (five star michelin chef) hotel's chef has been hired. His job is to ensure that the students get the best possible food for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. Two things are given the most importance when preparing the food - the food should be simple and homely, so that the kids do not miss their home food and there should be variety in the dishes so that each one has something that they like. A few of the players and their parents were asked before the camp about the food that they would like to have and the menu was prepared accordingly.

At the lunch break, the kids are excited to eat and get themselves re-energized. In the frame are (from left to right): Raunak Sadhwani, Prithu Gupta, P. Iniyan and Arjun Kalyan | Photo: Amruta Mokal

On the right you have the main chef of the camp - Mr. Talwar. S. Kailasanathan, the managing director of Microsense, makes sure that the best possible quality of food is served to the students. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Boris Gelfand prefers non spicy food and so special care was taken with regards to his diet | Photo: Amruta Mokal

That's Boris' dish - mixed vegetable, idiyappam and chapatti | Photo: Amruta Mokal

When it comes to food Vladimir Kramnik is more brave than Boris Gelfand! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Kramnik always likes to have a lot of vegetables and healthy food! "My wife will be happy to see this photo", says Vladimir | Photo: Amruta Mokal
An interview with chef Talwar about the thought process that has gone in to prepare the food for chess players. The video also covers the kids who are eating their lunch and asking them about how they like the food.

Yoga and meditation

In Chens Sur Leman, for the first training camp with Vladimir Kramnik, one of the issues was to get the youngsters out of bed in the morning! And when you were able to do that, it was quite impossible to stop them from playing blitz! No such problem is being faced at the second camp here in Chennai and the main reason for the same are the Yoga classes! Of course, the main aim is to make sure that the kids indulge in the holistic practice of yoga and meditation which will help them to calm their mind and get better at chess. But one cannot overlook the obvious benefits of waking up on time and having a fixed regime thanks to the yoga sessions.

Stretching exercises to get the blood flowing! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The interesting thing to note is that even though many of the kids were tired after their long journey from different parts of the country and the world, they all woke up on time and made sure they did not miss the Yoga session | Photo: Rupali Mullick

Anything and everything that helps them to get better at chess, is important for these youngsters! | Photo: Rupali Mullick

After the Yoga, there is also a bit of meditation and pranayama training that helps the youngsters cool their mind down | Photo: Amruta Mokal

No one is left out!

Before the training camp IM Aditya Mittal met with an accident and the fracture meant that he could not travel to Chennai. Would he miss out on the training camp? Well, where there is a will there is a way! Microsense ensured that high speed internet was setup in the premises. ChessBase India made sure that the appropriate cameras were setup in the training room. The result?

Aditya has been able to attend the camp from his home! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Raahil Mullick and Sreeshwan Maralakshikari are happy to meet their friend... remotely! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Aditya is so involved in the camp, that he even does the yoga at home during the camp timings! Today we plan to setup the cameras even during the yoga session so that he can take part in it as well.

Physical fitness

After the yoga classes end around 9 a.m. some kids have their breakfast, while some go to the swimming pool to have fun! Yes, it is fun, but in the process they are also making themselves fitter. When fitness and fun meet each other that's the best combination. Because then you do not have to motivate yourself to stay fit! Fitness becomes a way of living!

The clean swimming pool in the premises | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Trivia - Who is he? | Photo: Amruta Mokal

I would definitely prefer to swim under the sun, but then some exercise is better than none! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The premises also have a beautiful lake next to it and a green open space for the kids to play | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The football field! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Photo Gallery by Amruta Mokal

Gelfand shows Kramnik a position from the Goryachkina Ju Wenjun World Championship match | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Vlad immediately springs into action setting up the position and begins to work out the details | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Soon enough everyone joins in! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Caption this! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Caption this... (2)! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

It's a pure joy to see how these experienced GMs break down complex endgames and make them look simple | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The Hand of the God?! When Kramnik begins to analyze endgames, he is able to spot the key point as well as the zugzwang moments in such quick time! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

After the analysis, a couple of key variations are checked on the computer! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The 12-year-old Raahil Mullick, who is since the last few days is better known as the boy who was stuck in Melbourne! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Late in the night, the analysis work continues with the youngsters analyzing some of the positions that were given to them | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Vaishali and Rakshitta the two girls at the camp are busy entering all the variations and lines that were discussed in the class! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

For 12-year-old Bharath, this is the first time that he is away from his parents for such a long time. The youngster has to have his medicines on his own, and also take care of his health. It is learning for them, beyond the chess board as well! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Position for the day:

Antipov vs Saviliev, Russian team championship 2019

White to play. What should White do here? Hint: Think outside the box.

Previous articles of the camp:

Inauguration: The syllabus of the training

Day 1: Fire and Ice

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