AIl India Public Sector Chess Tournament 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.
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)|
|1||IM||Sharma Dinesh K.||2351||IND||5004110||2,0||5,0|
|5||WGM||Kiran Manisha Mohanty||2156||IND||5019575||1,0||2,0|
|2. BSNL (RtgAvg:1924 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 3,5)|
|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|
|3. ONGC (RtgAvg:2604 / TB1: 9 / TB2: 13,5)|
|2||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||2648||IND||5029465||3,5||5,0|
|4. IOCL (RtgAvg:2597 / TB1: 8 / TB2: 14,5)|
|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. AAI (RtgAvg:2431 / TB1: 6 / TB2: 11,5)|
|1||IM||Visakh N R||2400||IND||25012223||2,5||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)|
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.
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 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.
...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.
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.
In the matchup between BSNL vs LIC, BSNL’s weakness on boards 3 and 4 again was thoroughly exploited.
IOC vs AAI was the most interesting pairing in this round.
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...
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.
ONGC won fairly comfortably despite an upset in the fourth board by IM Anup Deshmukh over GM Neelotpal Das.
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.
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.
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.
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.