Kramnik and Klitschko: heavyweight preparation

8/25/2012 – The chess Olympiad starts on Monday, the teams will be swarming into Istanbul from their various training camps. One of the players had a somewhat unusual session: Vladimir Kramnik spent some days in Austria with his old friend and WBA Heavyweight Boxing Champion Vitali Klitschko, who himself was preparing for a tough match. We bring you a photo report of the unusual training session.

Kramnik and Klitschko: heavyweight preparation

WBA Heavyweight Boxing Champion Vitali Klitschko was in the middle of intense preparation: the 41-year-old takes on the undefeated German Manuel Charr in Moscow on the 8th September. It could be his last fight – if he is elected to the Ukrainian parliament the following month. "Depending on the outcome of the elections, I will decide on the future of my sporting career," says the elder Klitschko. His younger brother Wladimir holds the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO belts, and has won 44 of his 46 career fights. From Monday the 37-year-old Kramnik will be leading the Russian team on its quest to finally win the World Chess Olympiad in the post-Kasparov era.

How did this unusual training session come about? Kramnik, the little guy (actually 6' 6") on the left, told us the story in a late-night Skype chat. "He invited me to his traning camp, just as a friend. The chess game was not a photo op, it was spontaneous and accidental."


Instructions from the champion: "... use your pawns to lead and your heavy pieces
to land the knockout blow!"

"I decided to join him in Austria since I wanted anyway to spend a few days before the Olympiad in nature, gaining energy," said Vladimir. "Also I have wanted to see these guys traning for a long time, but did not have an opportunity until now."

"I ended up spending my days enjoying the great hotel and the cleanest possible enviroment you can find in Europe, visiting his sparring sessions from time to time, having dinners together and playing chess." Sounds like fun. Note that the background in the above pictures is not a giant poster, it is the real thing!


The attentive pupil, who...


...gets his master into a spot of trouble


In the end, we are told, Kramnik offered a draw a move before delivering checkmate.
Vitaly Klitschko: "I agreed." The World Champion boxer is quite astute...


After the chess Kramnik took on his chess partner in a friendly session in the ring.
Wait, that's a professional sparring partner in the above picture. The former World
Chess Champion is pretty astute himself.

All photos courtesy of KMG/Klitschko press service via the Klitschko Facebook page.


The Klitschkos and chess

The Klitschko brothers have a long-standing history of chess interest and involvement. Here some pictures from memory lane:


Vitaly and Wladimir Klitschko in the ChessBase office in 2002

The two boxers were trying to wear down the Deep Fritz computer before the final round of the $1 million Man vs Machine event in Bahrain. You can read all about the visit in our report: Fritz's strongest opponents.


Vitaly got into a bit of trouble against the machine after a mouse slip. Soon after
that Fritz offered the boxing champ a draw. Talk about machine intelligence!


The brothers often play chess – but never fight against each other


Vladimir gets a copy of our program: Fritz & Fertig (Fritz and Chesster)


Vitali Klitschko, Vladimir Kramnik, Peter Leko and Wladimir Klitschko in July
2004, two months before the world chess championship match in Brissago

ChessBase reports on the Klitschkos and chess over the years

Vladimir Kramnik: World Championship Chess (and boxing)
12.07.2007 – After winning the Dortmund Super-GM Vladimir Kramnik travelled to Hamburg to produce his first DVD in the ChessBase Media System, recording over six hours of video material that traces his path to the top of the chess world. After finishing he rushed to Cologne to support his chess playing friend Vladimir Klitschko, who was defending his world championship title in boxing. Pictorial report.
Chess playing boxer Klitschko retains heavyweight title
12.03.2007 – Vladimir Klitschko is a Ukrainian IBF heavyweight world boxing champion with a PhD in sports science and an avid interest in chess. On Saturday he fought American challenger Ray Austin and dropped him with a flurry of left hooks 87 seconds into the second round. Next people hope to see a unification fight against WBC champion Nikolai Valuev. Watch Saturday's fight.
Klitschko checkmates Byrd to win IBF title
24.04.2006 – Vladimir Klitschko, the younger of the world champion heavyweight boxing brothers, took the new International Boxing Federation title on Friday night, defeating Chris Byrd of the US by technical knockout in the seventh round. The Klitschkos are great chess fans and promised their friend Vladimir Kramnik, who was present at the fight, to attend his matches.
Chess and boxing champions
10.07.2004 – 77 days to go for the classical chess world championship between Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Leko (Sept. 25 to Oct 18 2004 in Brissago). The sponsors, the Swiss tobacco manufacturer Dannemann, have announced that the boxing champs Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko will be visiting the match. Press release.
Chess boxing: Kramnik vs Klitschko?
02.12.2003 – Is chess too boring for you? Those crafty Dutchies have found a way to finally resolve the impasse in the chess world. Put the players in a boxing ring, let them play for four minutes and then duke 'em up for a round with the gloves. Hmmm, Vladimir Kramnik loses badly to Vitaly Klitchko in the FIDE classical world chess boxing championship final? We are not joking.
Chess players slug it out in Los Angeles
21.06.2003 – Tonight two chess players are playing a World Championship match in Los Angeles. Not with knights and pawns but boxing gloves. The contenders are Dr. Viatly Klitschko, chess fan from the Ukraine, and Britain's Lennox Lewis, the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World, who is possibly the stronger chess player. Tip: you can watch this match free (in Europe)! Links and details are here...
Time Magazine on 'Brawn and brains'
02.12.2002 – He's 6 foot 8 1/4" (2,00 m) and packs 245 lbs (112 kg) of pure muscle. Like his brother he is a professional boxer – and a keen chess player. Vitaly Klitschko, 31, is challenging Lennox Lewis, heavyweight champ of the World Boxing Council early next year. To a boxing match and a game of chess. Contrary to the Time Magazine report we believe that Lewis will win – the chess game, that is.
Fritz's strongest opponents
23.10.2002 – Not Vladimir Kramnik, or even Garry Kasparov or Vishy Anand. Last week Fritz faced 490 pounds of brawn – world champion boxers Vitali and Vladimir Klitschkos. Both hat PhDs in Sports and Philosophy and are great chess fans. The Klitschkos wanted to soften the machine which was giving their friend Vlady Kramnik a bit of trouble in Bahrain. Fritz offered a draw in a winning position. Talk about machine intelligence! Read about it in our illustrated report.
Another chess player climbs into the ring
28.06.2002 – We told you about Lennox Lewis's love of chess (see 09.06.2002 below). On Saturday another brainy boxer, Wladimir Klitschko, will fight for the WBO Heavyweight Title in Atlantic City – with Garry Kasparov watching. In a future match against Lewis, Klitschko has suggested the two should play a game of chess before the fight – with Garry Kasparov watching. More
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