Vladimir Kramnik: World Championship Chess (and boxing)

7/12/2007 – 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.

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Vladimir Kramnik: My Path to the Top

Last week, immediately after winning the Dortmund Super-GM tournament, Vladimir Kramnik visited ChessBase in Hamburg to record his first DVD in our Chess Media System. On it Kramnik retraces his career, from the talented schoolboy in the Black Sea resort of Tuapse, to the World Champion in 2006. With humour and charm he describes his first successes, and what it meant to be part of the Russian Gold Medal team at the Olympiad. He explains how he took on the Herculean task of playing Garry Kasparov, his former mentor and teacher, in a world championship match.

Kramnik dissects his wins against Leko and Topalov, giving us a vivid impression of the super-dramatic final games of his 2006 match. His game commentary is full of useful advice on how you must adjust your strategy to accommodate your strengths and weaknesses according to those of your opponents. The world champion provides a fascinating insight into the thought processes that govern top level play.

The DVD will be published in the near future. We will inform you the moment it becomes available.


In the ChessBase studio, recording his new DVD


Thinking... Kramnik wanders around the ChessBase office...


... preparing himself mentally for the next video recording


Vladimir was in good spirits, very relaxed, and told stories from his chess career with dignity and humour.


The chess specific insights during his discussion of key games are breathtaking.


Vladimir was accompanied by his manager Carsten Hensel, who was very pleased to see how well the recordings went. We recorded a total of over six hours of excellent video material.


One of the pictures from a special photo shoot for the DVD cover

The chess playing world champion boxer

After finishing the DVD recording in Hamburg Kramnik had to rush down to Cologne to catch a boxing match. His friend Dr. Vladimir Klitschko, born March 25, 1976 in Ukraine (nine months after Kramnik), is the former WBO and the current IBF and IBO World Heavyweight Champion. Kramnik went to support Klitschko in a title match, much the way the Klitschko brothers had supported him during his match against Deep Fritz in 2002.


The Klitschko brother in the ChessBase office during the 2002 match


Vladimir during the intense confrontation with the machine...


... and playing a friendly game on Playchess.com against fellow Ukrainian Sergey Karjakin

Vladimir Klitschko came to world attention in 1996, when he won the Super-Heavyweight gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. He turned professional under the tutelage of Fritz Sdunek in Hamburg, Germany. In 2000 he won the WBO Heavyweight Championship, beating Chris Byrd, who had won the title from his brother Vitali Klitschko six months earlier. After five successful defenses Vladimir lost the title to South African Corrie Sanders in 2003

In 2004 Vladimir fought a WBO title bout against American Lamon Brewster. He easily outclassed his opponent in the first four rounds. However starting from the fifth round Brewster began landing heavy punches and floored Klitschko near the end of the round. The fight was stopped by the referee when Klitschko appeared exhausted and non-responsive. Accusations that Klitschko had somehow been drugged were never proven. At the hospital after the fight, low blood sugar levels were reported.


The Klitschko brothers (Vladimir left, Vitali right) often play chess against each other

On July 7th, 2007, Vladimir got his revenge when he defeated Brewster in Cologne, Germany. He used his punishing jab to control the action from the first bell. At the end of the sixth round Brewster's corner threw in the towel. It was later revealed that Klitschko fought most of the fight with a broken middle finger on his left hand.

Known as "Dr. Steelhammer", Vladimir Klitschko is 198 cm (6' 6" ) tall, which is extraordinary even for a heavyweight. He has a muscular frame, weighing 111 kg (245 lbs) and wearing European size 48 (US 15, UK 14) shoes. Vladimir studied sports science and philosophy and received a doctorate degree in sports science from the University of Kiev in January 2001. He has appeared in a sparring match against Lennox Lewis in the movie Ocean's Eleven. Vladimir is an avid chess player.

View the fight on Sport.de (individual rounds and interviews on the right)


Vitali Klitschko being interviewed in German TV after the match (with Kramnik in the background)


Vladimir Kramnik is asked for his opinion on the fight


ChessBase articles on boxing and chess

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.
Judgment day for chess players
05.08.2003 Muscles and chess are not mutually exclusive. We know that heavyweight champions Lewis and Klitschko are fans, but now we hear that superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger plays chess between shoots. This was revealed by a Spanish newspaper, and we found further evidence on a German chess site. Unfortunately your incompetent reporter let the biggest fish get away.
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. Vitaly 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...
Heavyweight Camp supports school chess team
13.05.2003 We know that, just like the Klitschkos, world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis is an avid chess fan. In fact Lewis actually adopted an elementary school team and donated $14,000 towards their chess training. Now the The Oakhaven Lennox Lewis Chess Team has repayed him with a first place in the USCF National Elementary Championships in Nashville. More...
Chess Boxing: the Tokyo Fight
03.05.2004 Last year Iepe the Joker won the World Chess Boxing Championship. Now Iepe (29, 1.80m, 74kg) has defended his title against a Japanese challenger, Soichiro the Cho-Yabai (22, 1.77m, 70kg) in a bout staged at the famous "Time & Style" venue in Tokyo. Pictorial report...
You thought we were making it up?
05.12.2003 "Is it April 1st?", a number of readers asked. Chess boxing? Putting players in a boxing ring for chess and boxing? The crowd screaming for blood and piece sacrifices? Our recent report described the setup, now the organisers have sent us a report and pictures to prove that they are really serious about this new discipline.
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.
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.
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
Lennox Lewis beats Tyson with white (shorts)
09.06.2002 Last night the British heavy-weight champion Lennox Lewis masterfully defeated Mike Tyson. Lewis is not just physically awesome, he is also a cerebral human being who loves nothing more than a good game of chess. "I see him sitting there for ten minutes thinking four moves ahead before he makes one," says his baffled trainer Emmanuel Steward. A year ago Lewis took on Telegraph editor Dominic Lawson in chess. You will find a vivid description of their two-game fight here.
Squaring up to Lennox Lewis
05.02.2002 Everyone knows that Lennox Lewis is the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world, but also an obsessive chessplayer. Last week Lewis might have lost the chance to defend his title against Mike Tyson (after the former champion was stripped of his licence for trying to eat Lennox's leg at a press conference), so instead he decided to accept the challenge of a Telegraph editor Dominic Lawson to a battle over the 64 squares of the chessboard. You will find a vivid description of the two-game match here.
You definitely do not want to hide this man's chess set
19.11.2001 When trainer Emmanuel Steward wants to get Lennox Lewis upset and in the right frame of mind for a big fight, he hides the Briton's chess set. This is what he did ahead of Saturday's heavyweight title fight rematch with Hasim Rahman. "I honestly don't like him playing chess,'' moaned Steward, ''I mean I see him sitting there for ten minutes thinking four moves ahead before he makes one. And he actually does the same thing in the ring – he thinks to much.'' Steward, who has worked with many world champions, has often criticized Lewis for being too cautious, for treating a fight as if it were a game of chess -- becoming too cerebral and not physical enough. More...

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