Guess who came to encourage the Russian Olympiad teams?

by Frederic Friedel
9/21/2018 – It was none other than Vladimir Putin, who dropped in at the training camp in Sochi. There he spoke to the men and women team members, about the importance of Russia regaining their dominating role in chess, about young talents and talent schools — like the one initiated by former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik. "Sirius" has already produced a number of children's champions. Watch this 1TV report — it is in Russian, but we provide a rough transcript for you to read.

My Path to the Top My Path to the Top

On this DVD Vladimir Kramnik retraces his career from talented schoolboy to World Champion in 2006. With humour and charm he describes his first successes, what it meant to be part of the Russian Gold Medal team at the Olympiad, and how he undertook the Herculean task of beating his former mentor and teacher Garry Kasparov.


"We have won more medals than in Soviet times"

Watch the 1TV news report on Vladimir Putin's visit to the Russian team camp. The entire report is (of course) in Russian, but we provide a rough summary below:

1TV anchor:

"The players in the video do not need presentation. They are world-class grandmasters: Sergey Karjakin, Vladimir Kramnik, Ian Nepomniachtchi... The men's and women's chess teams are spending their last day at a training camp in Sochi. From here they proceed directly to the Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia. Russian Chess Federation President Andrei Filatov calls them 'the strongest Olympiad in history.' There are so many other strong teams, for example from Iran, India, China, the United States..."

Putin (back to camera) shakes hands with Nepomniachtchi

"As in all Olympiads, acclimatization is important in chess. For this reason, the Russian team was training in Sochi. The climate here is similar to the venue in Batumi. And the atmosphere is right: the 'Olympic Capital' [Sochi] is now also the capital of chess. Two years ago, President Putin took part in the opening of the chess school in the educational centre 'Sirius.' The results have simply amazed Vladimir Kramnik, who directs this initiative. In breaks during the preparation for the Olympics, he even managed to hold lectures for the children."

Vladimir Putin asked Kramnik how things had progressed at Sirius. "Two years ago you came to the opening," the former World Champion and three-time winner of the Chess Olympiad, replied, "and already we have several world champions in different categories. Girls under 16, up to 20 — they are all champions from our school."

World Blitz Championship 2017 webcast | World Chess / FIDE

The report goes on to speak about Andrey Esipenko, who won the European Under-10 in 2012, and the European Under-16 and World Under-16 in 2017: "At 16 he is already a grandmaster. Here is footage of a boy from Novocherkassk [a city of 160,000 or so in Rostov province -Ed.] beating none other than Sergey Karjakin."

Anastasya Paramzina

"Among the girls, the rising star is Anastasya Paramzina. Last year she took Silver at the [World Junior Championship Under-20]. In the video, 14-year-old Nastya passes the 1/8 finals of the World Championship. These nuggets are giving a start in life at the heart of Sirius."

Left to Right: Natalia Pogonina, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Andrey Filatov, Dmitry Jakovenko

Andrei Filatov:

"We have broken the record, we have won more medals than in Soviet times. 26 medals per year for children age categories. We have regional centres where they select children, prepare them there, then they send them to Sirius, where they spend 21 days."

Left to right: Jakovenko, Sergei Rublevsky, Vladimir Potkin (background), Sergey Karjakin, Vladimir Kramnik


"They come from different places. Inland, Moscow. There will be no mouse slip, we will not miss a talented child, everything is covered. In Soviet times there was a well-known chess school, I myself am from there, and there was not such a facility close by. We are changing that, we will squeeze out a maximum. Chess will again become a super-sport in the eyes of children. Fresh minds will very soon strengthen our team."

"In principle, there is a big boom of children who play chess. As a teacher at Sirius, I can say that in the coming years we will hold the position of one top powers of the game."


"This should be for local kids, on an ordinary basis. We should not be opening elite schools, but providing for local children — to ensure that local children do not feel left out in this celebration of life."

The Russian leader wants this to be discussed with local sponsors.

Putin poses with Russian Open and Women's Olympiad teams

In the end, Putin posed with the players and wished them every success. The teams pledged to fight to the end and do their best for Russia, which last provided the Olympiad Gold 16 years ago.


Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.
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lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/25/2018 05:37

I oppose censorship. The article is on topic, as a president visiting the top chess players of his country and discussing the prospects of chess is certainly an important news for Russian chess and maybe internationally as well. Chessbase considered it important, so I acknowledge their decision.
Babysplitz Babysplitz 9/24/2018 07:44
This entire POLITICAL article does NOT belong on a CHESSBASE site.

psamant psamant 9/24/2018 07:39
@ macauley: Well done! Rest assured there is a vast majority (usually a silent one) that is interested in Chessbase because of the chess... and not because of politics.
Your aggressive and manual policing of these comments ensures that we have relevant comments and not thousands of useless ones. It saves a lot of my time and I end up actually reading the comments carefully rather than skipping the comments section entirely as I do for most other sites.
macauley macauley 9/23/2018 11:04
@fons - FYI... You always have to be logged in to comment. Your previous comment was held for moderation and I've now switched it on (fons3) -- that's why it didn't appear automatically. You seem to be registering additional accounts to get around this (fons4). Please don't deliberately circumvent moderation or you will actually get banned.
fons3 fons3 9/23/2018 05:42
@ macauley: Yes, that turned out longer than expected. Am I allowed to RESPOND to a political comment?

@ NJD, eric b:

I want to respond because even Malcolm Pein is now using the alleged Skripal novichok poisoning case in his campaign. The English Chess Federation even cited it as one of the reasons to support Makropoulos instead of Dvorkovich.

To this day there is ZERO evidence that Russia was behind the alleged Skripal poisoning in Salisbury. It's a bogus story that fits into the anti-Russia propaganda campaign run by the US and its lackey the UK. The official story is made up of unproven allegations, lies, hysteria and is full of holes.

PS: I'm not pro-Russia or anti-US or whatever. I'm PRO-TRUTH.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/23/2018 04:19

It is a strange way to put it. Anyway, it is constructive from the Russian president to visit the players. It would be nice from other presidents as well.
macauley macauley 9/23/2018 04:07
@fons3 - Sorry, this is not the place for a 7-part political essay unrelated to the article. You're welcome to publish that on your own website.
Jarman Jarman 9/22/2018 12:58
@lajosarpad: the "leftist mobs" have long accepted the election loss. Otherwise they would not be trying to reverse course with the midterm election.
If you look at the past two years, it is more of a case of the right not accepting they have won.
BeFreeBusy BeFreeBusy 9/22/2018 09:58
The left simply hates anything good, organized, traditional work for society.
Comments here are arbitrary, out of place, demagogic - same of which they blame the others. Simply put: from the liberal playbook. Russian chess is great.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/22/2018 08:59
@Eric B

What did Trump do to consider him an authoritarian? I see the Leftist mobs break things in the US, but I do not understand why. They have lost the election, they should accept that. As about Putin, I do not consider him to be a dictator of the same category of Hitler, come on. He has a tight regime, I will give you that and the Left has some real reasons to protest, but he is certainly not playing in the same league as Hitler.
eric b eric b 9/22/2018 07:04
Why do these players sound like they are terrified while they are speaking to Putin? I'm not kidding. Maybe it's just a difference in the way that Russians generally speak as opposed to Americans. If I were Russian, I wouldn't do anything that gives Putin something to brag about, just as I wouldn't do anything for Trump either. Reminds me of pictures of German Olympic athletes conversing with Hitler during the 1930s. I would put both Putin and Trump in that same category, demagogues and authoritarians both. The only difference is that Putin is a smart sociopath while Trump is a dumb one. Anyway, I'm glad that the kids are getting support for their interest in chest though.
Uommibatto Uommibatto 9/22/2018 06:09
Thank you for providing us with this missing chapter from Kotov's book, "The Soviet School of Chess".
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 9/22/2018 05:17
According to news reports, President Trump is trying to contact the American tic-tac-toe team.
countrygirl countrygirl 9/22/2018 03:42
Great to see Jakovenko and Riazantsev in the pix. Two of my favourites. One nice thing about Russia - the boss guy generally takes an interest in Chess.
NJD NJD 9/21/2018 03:18
And if you lose, I will poison you with novachuk...