World champion Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand will work in tandem to guide the Indian chess players ahead of the 44th Chess Olympiad as the All India Chess Federation (AICF) has brought the two legends together for the home team’s first coaching camp with an aim to enhance medal chances at the prestigious event, beginning in Chennai on July 28.
The six-time World Championship candidate from Israel, Gelfand has been roped in as the coach by the AICF alongside mentor Anand as the members of the first teams in both open as well as women’s section will take part in the camp, scheduled to take place at Hotel Leela in Chennai from May 7 to May 17.
The former world champion in rapid chase, Koneru Humpy believes the decision to appoint Gelfand in addition to mentor Anand will motivate the players ahead of the Olympiad, which will be conducted in India for the first-time ever.
“Well, I don’t often participate in the coaching camps in general. This time having Gelfand and Anand as coach and mentor will definitely motivate the team and for sure there will be a lot to learn from their experience,” she said.
Apart from winning the World Cup in 2009, the 52-year-old Gelfand has competed in 11 Chess Olympiads. He was ranked in the top-30 in FIDE rankings from 1990 to 2017. Gelfand’s experience of 27 years, playing at the top international level will come handy for the Indian players ahead of the big event.
“We want to ensure that the Indian teams have the best of everything be it good staying facilities and the best of coaches. We want to create an atmosphere which is conducive to give them their best,” said AICF President Sanjay Kapoor while, Bharat Singh Chauhan, Secretary off AICF added: “With the numerous decision-making books authored by Gelfand we hope that our decision to rope in Gelfand pays off.”
The members of first team in the open section—Vidit Gujrathi, Pentala Harikrishna, Arjun Erigaisi, SL Narayanan and Krishnan Sasikran—and the players of first team in the women’s section—Koneru Humpy, Dronavalli Harika, R Vaishali, Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni will take part in the camp along with their respective coaches Srinath Narayanan and Abhijit Kunte.
Arjun and Sasikiran, who are currently playing tournaments in Europe, will join the camp a couple of days later. Sasikiran, who won the Olympiad silver medal in 2014, is excited to work with Gelfand. “I am a big fan of him and this is the first time that I would be training with such a strong player though we have played a few games against each other,” he said.
“It is great to have him as a coach. His experience and knowledge will immensely help the Indian team,” added Harikrishna, who will be playing his 10th Olympiad in Chennai.
The 11-day coaching camp will be intensive and gruelling with players involved in six to seven hours of rigorous training. The players will also have a regular routine of yoga and meditation to enhance their mental will power along with physical strength training.
“I am really looking forward to it. The facilities will be excellent, and it will be a very important platform for the team to get together and bond before the Olympiad,” said coach Srinath.