Microsense Kramnik Gelfand Program 2020 Day 6+7+8 : Celebrating Pongal and Chess
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.
"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.
Two positions for you to work on:
Aronian vs Anand, World Championships 2007
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
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.
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.