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Microsense Kramnik Gelfand Program 2020 Day 6+7+8 : Celebrating Pongal and Chess

by Sagar Shah - 17/01/2020

On 15th of January 2020, the entire atmosphere at the Microsense Kramnik Gelfand Training camp lit up with the Pongal celebrations. The mood was upbeat and this has been carried forward on the next days as well. Co-founder of ChessBase Frederic Friedel is here with at the venue with his son Martin. Amongst all of this, the second half of the training of the students continues in full flow as Kramnik has begun working on the Italian Opening, while Gelfand has taken up the task of working on the Semi-Slav. In this article you get the entire feel of what is happening at the Coastal Paradise villas in Chennai along with a couple of instructive chess positions explained by the young super talents!

Pardon me for not keeping you updated with all the happenings at the Microsense Kramnik Gelfand Training Camp! Taking care of 12 young super talents is no easy job! The first five days of the camp revolved around Gelfand teaching Sicilian to the senior group (Pragg, Raunak, Gukesh, Iniyan, Leon and Arjun Erigaisi), and Kramnik teaching the Reti to the juniors (Aditya Mittal, Sreeshwan, Raahil, Bharath, Arjun Kalyan, Rakshitta and Vaishali). On the rest day Kramnik and Gelfand visited Mahabalipuram and then came to the Coastal Paradise villa where they witnessed the first No-Castling chess tournament ever. After the rest day, everyone was re-energized and the groups switched themselves.

Kramnik worked with the senior group of youngsters on the Italian opening | Photo: Amruta Mokal

...while Gelfand worked with the youngsters on the Semi-Slav | Photo: Amruta Mokal

"You give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, you teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime!" This is exactly what Kramnik and Gelfand want to do with this training camp. Yes, they have worked on four different openings, but more than that they want the youngsters to grasp the concept of how to prepare an opening, what is the depth at which players at the highest level prepare, how are the opening files to be created. If the youngsters learn these techniques, they will not just master these four openings (Reti, Sicilian, Italian and the Semi Slav) but they will also learn the art of opening preparation! And one can see the fire and intensity with which these two trainers are working. No matter who the people are who have come to meet them, they prioritize their training over everything else. A 10-minute break ends in 10 minutes. If the lunch break is supposed to end at 3.30 p.m., by 3.29 p.m. both Kramnik and Gelfand have taken their seats and are ready to begin their lectures. The competence of the trainers along with their work ethic and professional approach to the entire program makes these camps truly beneficial and effective.

Look at the intensity of Boris! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

For Vladimir making sure that he completes the syllabus that he has prepared for the day is the most important. Everything else can wait! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Two positions for you to work on:

Aronian vs Anand, World Championships 2007

If you are learning the Semi-Slav then you should know this classic, Black to play
Let the youngest IM of India Bharath Subramaniyam, who is just 12 years and 3 months old, explain to you the intricacies of this position

One of the things that both Kramnik and Gelfand have been trying extremely hard at the camp is to improve the calculation of the youngsters. Sitting there in the class I realized that the main difference between top players and the youngsters when it comes to calculation doesn't lie in those positions where it is obvious what to calculate. Imagine there is a ...Rxf3 exchange sacrifice and then you have to work out all the details. These youngsters are as good as Kramnik and Gelfand and sometimes even better than them. But when you have positions where there are normal moves like ...Re8, then these youngsters feel like it is not a forcing line and do not look further. While Kramnik and Gelfand know that ...Re8 creates a positional threat of ...Bf8 and hence White has to do something about his e4 pawn now. So even in what looks like non forcing lines, they are able to come up with forcing moves thanks to their calculating abilities. Here's an example that will make the point clear.


Naiditsch vs Kramnik, 2017

Nothing looks forcing at this point of time, but players like Kramnik are able to calculate much better than their opponents in such situations. Try to think of how Black should continue here. And then have a look at the instructive video recorded by Leon and Iniyan where they discuss the solution.

Not all work and no play!

But it is not all work and no play. While the six hours of training are extremely serious and intense, in the rest of the time Kramnik and Gelfand have fun with the youngsters, they interact with the guests and enjoy themselves! 15th of January was special for two reasons at the camp. One - it was the festival of Pongal, which is celebrated in a big way in Tamil Nadu and Two - the co-founder of ChessBase Frederic Friedel was going to visit the venue. The entire idea of the Indian youngsters working with Kramnik was conceptualized by him in January 2019, and one year later, here we are in the second camp with Boris Gelfand joining in and 14 Indian youngsters benefitting out of it.

Beautiful settings at the camp for Pongal celebrations! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Pongal is a traditional harvest festival celebrated in South India, particularly by Tamils. It is mainly celebrated by the farmers to thank the nature for giving bountiful harvest and agricultural abundance.

Co-founder of ChessBase Frederic Friedel arrives at the venue | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Kramnik has been one of Frederic's oldest friends in the world of chess! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

And so is Gelfand! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

This time Frederic is not alone, he is here with his son Martin Friedel. Martin and Vladimir are just about the same age and are good friends of each other! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Ashwin Subramanian, who has been a former ACO World Champion and works at Intel, has excellent technical knowledge related to engines and computer softwares. He is here to help the youngsters with any technical assistance that they require.

K. Visweswaran, a well-known chess trainer in India, brought a special cloth known as Angavastram, which is worn by men on the occasion of Pongal | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Kailasanathan shows how actors like Rajinikanth make use of Angavastram for a stylish appearance! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Vlad has his own style of doing things! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Kramnik and Gelfand have always been wonderful sports throughout these 10 days, they have never backed down from trying something new. Be it in terms of appearance or trying new Indian food! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Bhel was prepared for snacks! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Also prepared was Dahi wada! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Kramnik and Gelfand love vegetables, so the chef takes special care about that requirement  | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Pragg wishes his friends goodbye on 15th of January. Pragg was suffering from high fever and decided to attended the camp remotely from his home. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Kramnik is extremely understanding of the situation and asks Pragg to take enough rest and not worry about the sessions. "Everything is being recorded and you can view it later!" | Photo: Amruta Mokal

He is the sponsor, but he takes care of the kids like his grandkids! Kailasanathan wishes Pragg a speedy recovery! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Pragg's mother Nagalakshmi with her mother!  | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Three happy youngsters! Raahil Mullick, Sreeshwan Maralakshikari and Bharat Subramaniyam | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Kailasanathan introduces Kramnik to his old friends who have specially come for a picture with Kramnik and Gelfand! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

"For us you are our Gods!" That's how much these gentlemen love and revere chess! They have the highest respect for Kramnik and Gelfand and their ability in chess! (From left to right): S. Kailasanathan, Venkatesan, Kramnik, R. Vijayaraghavan (national junior champion in 1970), Boris Gelfand and Raghunathan | Photo: Amruta Mokal

At the lunch table Gelfand and Kramnik give extremely important advice to the youngsters. One of them being "Cut down on the online blitz!" | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Some food for thought for these youngsters! | Photo: Amruta Mokal
Gelfand was asked by Bharath as to how to assess compensation in a game of chess. This is what Boris had to say!
Check out Vladimir Kramnik's excellent Football skills!

Gelfand is a family man! No doubt about that. Every lecture begins the picture of his beautiful family - Maya (wife), Avner (son) and Avital (daughter) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Previous articles of the camp:

Inauguration: The syllabus of the training

Day 1: Fire and Ice

Day 2: To become a good chess player, just chess is not enough

Day 3: When to calculate and when not to

Day 4: Traits of a super talent

Day 5: Aesthetics in chess

Rest day: 89% decisive games in the first ever No Castling chess tournament

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