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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