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Microsense Kramnik Gelfand Program 2020 Day 9: The most unique chess camp ever comes to an end

by Sagar Shah - 19/01/2020

"This is the most unique chess camp ever," says GM Boris Gelfand, who was one of the trainers at the Microsense Kramnik Gelfand Training Program 2020. It is for the first time in the history of chess that a World Champion and a World Championship Challenger spent over 50 hours each with the young super-talents of a particular nation. Kramnik and Gelfand gave it their all to the 14 youngsters throughout the duration of the training program. It was possible that on the last day, they could take things a little easy. But it was quite the contrary. Kramnik and Gelfand came with the resolve to complete the entire syllabus they had prepared and they worked harder than all of the previous days. In this article you get to know about what transpired on the final day, photos from the last day of the camp and interviews with both Kramnik and Gelfand on their experience. 

After eight days of intense training with Kramnik and Gelfand, one would imagine the final day to be a little light! Chat a little, discuss a bit on the future plans, wish everyone a nice goodbye... Quite the contrary! Kramnik arrived at the customary 12.30 p.m. mark and said, "Guys today is the last day. I have a lot of things to tell you, so it is going to be really intense. We may have to speed up a bit as we have a lot of lines to go through!" The 14th World Champion made it very clear that the last day was just like any other day! Gelfand on the other hand said, "If we finish the lines early, then we will go to Question and Answer session and if that is completed then I will be subjecting you to tests where every right answer will give you points and with every wrong answer you will lose some!" Basically both of them wanted to make sure that they could transfer the maximum learning to the kids on the final day of the camp.

For a player like Kramnik who has had several World Championships that were decided in the last round, the last day of the camp was by no means going to be one where he took things lightly! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Completely focused and dedicated - Boris Gelfand | Photo: Amruta Mokal

What makes Kramnik and Gelfand excellent coaches is the fact that they come extremely well prepared for their lectures. But at the same time they are very strong chess players and hence every suggestion by the students is appropriately assessed by them. They never dismiss any move spoken by the student and always try to give a logical explanation for their conclusions. Here's a nice example:


Piket vs Kramnik, 1993

Gelfand asked the students - Black to play. What would you do here?

Just about everyone suggested the fine move ...Nxe5! The move is quite spectacular because Bxe5 is met with Rae8 and a subsequent f6 would win back the piece. After ...Nxe5, if White were to play Rxe5, then Black has a powerful move in the form of ...Rfc8. The rook on c6 defends the bishop on f6 and once the rooks are exchanged, not only is the bishop on f6 hanging, but also there is a backrank mate on the c1 square.

...Rfc8 is such a powerful move and one that is quite easy to miss

While all the students were convinced that ...Nxe5 was the correct move, young Aditya Mittal was not so keen to play it. His suggestion was directly ...Rfc8 (instead of...Nxe5). Now Gelfand could have simply discarded the suggestion and said that ...Nxe5 was better. But he asked Aditya as to why he didn't want to play ...Nxe5. The youngster, who was attending the class remotely from his home in Mumbai, said, "After ...Nxe5 Rxe5 Rfc8 White has the move Bxg7 and after Rxc6 there is Bxh6. Now White has two pieces for the rook and the mate threat on c1 has been averted.

Aditya didn't stop just as yet. He saw he can play g5! and after Bxg5 f6! 

A piece is forked and Black recovers the material. However, after Rxd5 Re8! (an interesting intermezzo to threaten mate) h4 fxg5

How to assess this position. White will take back on g5 and will have three pawns and a knight for a rook. Should be completely sufficient materially, but the knight on a4 is passive and this gives Black very good chances. 

Aditya had seen almost all of this and hence had decided that instead of going for ...Nxe5 on the first move, he would play ...Rfc8. Gelfand carefully listened to all the analysis and was impressed by the fact that even though ...Nxe5 was objectively the best move, Aditya's calculations were very accurate and definitely worthy of consideration. As Kramnik was playing with the black pieces, Boris said, "In the lunch break, we will ask Vladimir as to what he had thought about the assessment of the above position!" This is how you tackle the questions of these super talents - with respect and absolute truthfulness.

The lunch time is something that the players look forward to because of the excellent food and variety available to them | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Kramnik and Gelfand never complained about the Indian food. Although a special dish was always prepared for them, they would eat the student's menu as well! The only thing they stayed away from was spicy food. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

As it was the final day, the chefs decided to prepare something special. A well-known Indian fast food called Pani Puri was served! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Frederic Friedel (the co-founder of ChessBase), who spent the early years of his life in India, couldn't resist the delicious offering! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Guess who paid a special visit to meet uncle Frederic and his son Martin? Vishy Anand's son Akhil Anand! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Aruna would often visit Frederic's house in Hamburg and meet his son Martin. It was perhaps after many years that she was able to see him again! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Having fun with naughty Akhil! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Meanwhile the training continued intensively inside the room | Photo: Amruta Mokal

For Bharath Subramaniyam, who is just 12 years old, the camp was by no means easy. But the youngster kept his focus throughout the 10 days and came out stronger not just as a chess player but also an individual. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Best friends! R. Vaishali and Rakshitta Ravi | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The biggest advantage of a residential camp is always making close friendships with each other! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

These pictures would be a wonderful memory for the players! Each and every player got an individual photo with Kramnik and Gelfand | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Youngster Aditya Mittal attended the entire camp remotely! It was nice to see Aditya's enthusiasm and fighting spirit. He didn't miss a single lecture and absorbed everything like a sponge! We are sure that this camp will prove to be very beneficial for him | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Look at Vaishali's mother Nagalakshmi, who is listening to every word by said by Boris very carefully! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

In these nine days the 14 talented youngsters learnt so much from these two legends of chess. We will have a separate article dedicated on this subject of what the youngsters learnt from Kramnik and Gelfand soon. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The yoga master K. Murugesan with all the kids. Every morning the youngsters had to wake up and be at the yoga sessions beginning from 8.15 a.m. The instructor was not overbearing and made the process of learning yoga enjoyable. 

Two men who are slowly but surely transforming Indian chess with their vision - S. Kailasanathan (right) and Rajiv Talwar (left) - the co-founders of Microsense | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The final group photo with the 14 talents, Kramnik, Gelfand, Microsense MD Kailasanathan and ChessBase Co-founder Frederic Friedel | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The entire group picture with the managers of the camp ChessBase India's Sagar and Amruta | Photo: Ashwin Subramanian
Vladimir Kramnik speaks about his experience of the training camp
"This was a unique camp in chess history" - Boris Gelfand on training 14 Indian super talents

The camp began with 14 students. Aditya Mittal who met with an accident before the camp, attended it remotely through live streaming from his home. Prithu Gupta had to leave the camp on the third day because of ill health. Praggnanandhaa left the camp on the eighth day because of high fever. Although a lot of difficulties were faced before and during the camp in terms of organization, the dedication of the trainers, the resolve of the students to learn and the vision of the sponsors ensured that things kept moving smoothly no matter what the obstacles were! These Microsense Training camps are unique in chess history. Never have such strong players spent so much quality time with the young talents. It is bound to have a positive impact on Indian chess.

We hope that you enjoyed the coverage of the camp! A big thanks to Vladimir and Boris for taking time out of their schedule to power chess in India. | Photo: D.Gukesh

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 

Day 6+7+8: Celebrating Chess and Pongal

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