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AIl India Public Sector Chess Tournament 2016

by Srinath Narayanan - 25/03/2016

The All India Public Sector Chess Tournament 2016 was held from 14-18 March 2016, hosted by Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. at Mysuru. Almost all of India's top players are employed by the Petroleum companies and they were present to represent their teams in this six-team round-robin contest. IM N. Srinath bring you his personal account cum report from this tournament.

The AIl India Public Sector Chess Tournament 2016


India is a unique country as far as sports promotion is concerned. Chess is especially blessed -- most of the game's top players are offered permanent government jobs that bring a sense of security and stability in their life.


The All India Public Sector tournament was held at ‘Hotel Sandesh The Prince’ in Mysore from 14-18 April 2016. It was the turn of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. to host the event. The tournament maintained high standards of quality, both in terms of chess strength and organization.

One must applaud IM D.V. Prasad, the man behind the whole show, for his remarkable efforts

In terms of strength, it featured 50% of top 10 players in India and the highest rated IMs in the country. Almost all of India's top players are employed by the Petroleum companies and they were present to represent their teams in this six-team round-robin contest held with the time control of 45 minutes + 30 seconds increment from move one.


All the teams were invited to a complimentary lunch at the venue after each round, which gave an excellent atmosphere for the teams to socialize with the other teams. There was also a dinner hosted at Hotel Regalis after the third round, with good music and excellent food.


The ‘Public Sector’ tournament has held a low profile so far. The tournament is a conclave of companies that provide employment to the top chess players from India (Railways is a government owned entity and BPCL isn’t affiliated). While there, I couldn’t help wondering how pivotal such policies were to the development of sports as a whole in India.


The timing of the event (March – financial year end) meant that only six teams could make it to the tournament. The most notable organisations that weren’t able to attend were from the banks, who for understandable reasons couldn’t spare their scant performing assets, with the current pile of their non-performing assets. The other teams didn’t have enough players.

The team composition:

 1. LIC (RtgAvg:2318 / TB1: 2 / TB2: 8)
Bo.   Name Rtg FED FideID Pts. Games
1 IM Sharma Dinesh K. 2351 IND 5004110 2,0 5,0
2 GM Sriram Jha 2430 IND 5001668 1,5 5,0
3 WGM Swati Ghate 2279 IND 5003474 0,0 4,0
4 IM Deshmukh Anup 2213 IND 5000564 3,5 4,0
5 WGM Kiran Manisha Mohanty 2156 IND 5019575 1,0 2,0
  2. BSNL (RtgAvg:1924 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 3,5)
Bo.   Name Rtg FED FideID Pts. Games
1   Thanki Hemal Karsanji 2137 IND 5024927 1,0 5,0
2   Ram S. Krishnan 2190 IND 5010519 2,5 5,0
3   Raj Kumar Chauhan 1944 IND 5018315 0,0 5,0
4   Pandit Prem 1423 IND 5051347 0,0 5,0
  3. ONGC (RtgAvg:2604 / TB1: 9 / TB2: 13,5)
Bo.   Name Rtg FED FideID Pts. Games
1 GM Sasikiran Krishnan 2637 IND 5004985 4,0 5,0
2 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2648 IND 5029465 3,5 5,0
3 GM Koneru Humpy 2575 IND 5008123 2,0 4,0
4 GM Sengupta Deep 2554 IND 5008352 4,0 5,0
5 GM Neelotpal Das 2457 IND 5003512 0,0 1,0
  4. IOCL (RtgAvg:2597 / TB1: 8 / TB2: 14,5)
Bo.   Name Rtg FED FideID Pts. Games
1 GM Adhiban B. 2663 IND 5018471 3,5 5,0
2 GM Kunte Abhijit 2505 IND 5002265 2,5 4,0
3 GM Lalith Babu M R 2573 IND 5024595 4,5 5,0
4 GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar 2646 IND 5002150 3,0 4,0
5 IM Padmini Rout 2439 IND 5029295 1,0 2,0
  5. AAI (RtgAvg:2431 / TB1: 6 / TB2: 11,5)
Bo.   Name Rtg FED FideID Pts. Games
1 IM Visakh N R 2400 IND 25012223 2,5 5,0
2 IM Stany G.A. 2443 IND 5029104 2,0 5,0
3 GM Shyam Sundar M. 2523 IND 5019141 4,0 5,0
4 IM Rajesh V A V 2358 IND 5029317 3,0 5,0
  6. AI (RtgAvg:2460 / TB1: 5 / TB2: 9)
Bo.   Name Rtg FED FideID Pts. Games
1 GM Bakre Tejas 2453 IND 5004195 1,0 4,0
2 IM Satyapragyan Swayangsu 2448 IND 5004306 2,5 5,0
3 IM Narayanan Srinath 2469 IND 5018420 2,0 5,0
4 IM Swayams Mishra 2470 IND 5028183 2,5 5,0
5 IM Shetty Rahul 2236 IND 5000513 1,0 1,0

Round 1

Looking at the line-ups, it was clear that, in all probability, it was going to be a battle between IOCL and ONGC for the championship. Due to the random drawing up of lots, the two petroleum behemoths faced off each other in the first round itself.

ONGC’s victory was well deserved as they dominated on the first three boards. GM Sasikiran was pressing against GM Adhiban on board one and GM Humpy kept an edge throughout the game against GM Lalith.

However, it was GM Vidit, who scored the decisive point against GM Abhijit Kunte to take ONGC home.

GM Ganguly couldn’t do enough to cause trouble to GM Deep Sengupta on the fourth board and ONGC won 2.5-1.5.

In other less riveting matchups, Airport Authority of India (AAI) exploited BSNL’s weakness in boards 3 and 4 to win 2.5-1.5.


Representing Air India, I was paired against one of the best women players in India, WGM Swathi Ghate. I survived a very dubious position to somehow manage to win. However, IM Satyapragyan’s clean win against LIC’s top rated player GM Sriram Jha secured our victory. IM Dinesh Kumar Sharma managed to pull one back for LIC against GM Tejas Bakre, but we still managed to win 2.5-1.5.

Round 2

Round 2 was definitely the most happening round in the tournament. Although the scoreline suggests otherwise, both AAI vs ONGC and AI vs IOCL were closely fought encounters.


In AI vs IOC, GM Ganguly outplayed IM Swayams comprehensively; however, there were intense fights on the other three boards.

I had a clear edge against GM Lalith Babu,...

...before I missed a simple tactic, blundered a pawn, and allowed the position to become complicated. Then I got switched off and was comprehensively outcalculated in the critical time trouble phase of the game.

AI’s captain Tejas Bakre was also better against GM Adhiban, but they just won all the critical moments.

IM Satyapragyan was like the batsman who watched all his non-strikers get out. He battled out a tough position and disadvantage on time to keep the game going, but seeing all his teammates lose, he refused repetition, over tried and lost.

Things also looked very promising for AAI at one point. IM Stany had outprepared GM Vidit and boards 1 and 4 looked even. However, the player/team that win the critical moments usually end up winning everything and this turned out to be the case in this round as well.

AAI’s captain GM Shyam Sundar (nicknamed ‘Virat Kohli’ due to several similarities, especially the moving life story) was the lone solace for AAI as they lost on all other boards.

In the matchup between BSNL vs LIC, BSNL’s weakness on boards 3 and 4 again was thoroughly exploited.


Round 3

IOC vs AAI was the most interesting pairing in this round.

IM Rajesh, with the White pieces, managed to hold GM Ganguly to a draw despite being rated 288 points below his more fancied opponent.

Reportedly, at one point, Rajesh even had a chance to win with a simple tactic. IM Stany had a comfortable position with the white side of a Sicilian Kan and...

.... IM Visakh looked like he had a better position against GM Adhiban.

However, the decisive game turned out to be GM Lalith’s victory over GM Shyam Sundar.  It reminded me of the 2015 World Cup Semi-Finals, when despite getting a good start from the top two, India got snuffed about after their number three’s dismissal to Mitchell Johnson.


My team’s pairing against BSNL was relatively uneventful as we scored on boards 1, 3 and 4.

My terrible form continued as I was just down two pawns with no compensation at all. There were several mistakes in the game, but I held a draw.

ONGC won fairly comfortably despite an upset in the fourth board by IM Anup Deshmukh over GM Neelotpal Das.

Round 4

Pre-game, AI vs AAI was considered to be the most fascinating pairing as both IOC and ONGC were heavy favorites on the other two boards. This was also a battle of sorts for the third place as the young AAI team were arguably considered the favourites in their last round pairing against LIC.

However, the match turned out to be an anti-climax of sorts as I was comprehensively outplayed by GM Shyam Sundar despite having the white pieces. IM Swayams was unable to convert a better position against IM Rajesh. IM Satyapragyan again fought valiantly till the end, but with the team 2-1 down, even a draw from him wouldn’t have changed the final standings.


IOCL and ONGC coasted through comfortably against LIC and BSNL respectively.

IM Anup Deshmukh continued his good run with a victory over IM Padmini Rout; however, that wasn’t sufficient to stop his team from losing 2.5-1.5.

Round 5

ONGC just had to make a draw against us to secure the championship. AAI had to defeat LIC to secure the third place. IOC was paired against BSNL and looked certain to win.

ONGC's GM Krishnan Sasikiran (2637) led from the front to score 4.0/5

Our team played with freedom in the last round, with nothing to lose and also not much to gain. At different moments, all four of the higher rated GMs from ONGC offered draws to our players in complex, equalish positions. With not much to gain, we accepted the offers and went back to check out of our hotel rooms before 12 noon.

There’s nothing much to write about the other two matchups as the favourites coasted to comfortable victories and completed the standings as expected.

Thus, ONGC did the needful and clinched first place

IOCL finished second

AAI did beat LIC and took the third place

Final Standings:

Rk. SNo Team Games   +    =    -   TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 3 ONGC 5 4 1 0 9 13,5 0
2 4 IOCL 5 4 0 1 8 14,5 0
3 5 AAI 5 3 0 2 6 11,5 0
4 6 AI 5 2 1 2 5 9,0 0
5 1 LIC 5 1 0 4 2 8,0 0
6 2 BSNL 5 0 0 5 0 3,5 0


About the Author

Narayanan Srinath, born on February 14, 1994 in Chennai, India, began playing chess at the age of five. At the age of eight with an initial rating of 2088, he became the then youngest rated player in the country. A former World Under 12 champion, at the age of fourteen he became an International Master and has shown surprising and unswerving loyalty to the title ever since. He has numerous achievements to his credit and likes to participate in a lot of tournaments all around the globe. He is a critical thinker and thinks deeply not only about the game of Chess but life itself.

Photos from IA Manjunatha Murthy's Facebook

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