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Exciting battles expected at the National Teams 2017

by Gopakumar Sudhakaran - 03/02/2017

PSPB teams are not participating in this year's National Teams 2017. But this does not reduce the excitement. In the open section we have four teams vying for the top spot: AAI, Railways A and B, and Air India. It will be a close finish as AAI and Railways A are really well matched. In the women's section Air India is a clear favourite, but the young team from AAI would be looking to stage an upset. We have a huge pictorial report sent to us from the venue by Gopakumar Sudhakaran. Enjoy!

Exciting battles expected at the National Teams 2017

The 37th National Team Chess Championship and 15th National Team Chess Championship for Women got off to a rousing start here at Bansal Institute of Science & Technology on Thursday.

The entrance of the Bansal Institute of Science and Technology

Lush green grounds give a pleasant feel to the players as well as the spectators

A total number of 43 teams in the Open and 14 in Women section are taking part in this one week long prestigious championship, which has seven grandmasters, eighteen International Masters in action in open and one International Master and five Women grandmasters in women.

In a colourful opening ceremony, Smt. Maya Maheswari inaugurated the event by making customary first move against top rated player Grandmaster Shyam Sundar in presence of top rated women player International Master Vijayalakshmi S of Air India, Dr. Sanjay Jain, Shri. Amrit Minj and the Secretary of M.P. Chess Association Kapil Saxena

Team-Starting rank

No. Team RtgAvg
1 Airport Authority of India 2515
2 Indian Railway A 2501
3 Air India 2458
4 Indian Railway B 2415
5 Viyugam CA 2262
6 LIC 2214
7 Tamil Nadu - A 2145
8 Karnataka 2078
9 Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited 2003
10 MP TEAM - B 1955

It looks like a battle between four teams in the open section. And with the PSPB not participating it looks like anyone could be a winner. Of course, in 2016 we had the Railways A win the tournament ahead of PSPB, but prior to that it was hard to imagine any other team winning the event apart from the Petroleum giants. This year the Petroleum Sports Promotion has not sent a team to the event. Adhiban is still in Netherlands, Sethuraman, Abhijeet Gupta and Lalith Babu are in Gibraltar, Deep Sengupta is getting married and in general the company would not want to send a team that would be in the danger of not winning. Thus, this year will miss one of the best teams in India.

PSPB team of 2016 performed clearly below par and finished fourth

Padmini, Eesha, Soumya, Vaishali none of these top players are in action this year

With Grandmasters Shyam Sundar and S L Narayanan in their lineup Airports Authority of India started as top seed in the Open followed by defending champions Railways ‘A’ and Air India. In women's section Air India got the top billing while Airports Authority of India and Life Insurance Corporation starting as second and third seed respectively.

 

As expected, the seeded teams had an easier outing in the opening round as Airport Authority of India defeated Academy of Chess Education while defending champions and second seed Railway ‘A’ team outwitted Bihar ‘B’. Third seed Air India also had an easy day as they overcame Punjab without much struggle. In women section, Air India defeated Telangana while Airports Authority of India and Life Insurance Corporation got better off Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh ‘B’ respectively.

Shyam Sundar took rest in the first round as Airport Authority of India trounced Academy of Chess Education 4-0
Round 1 on 2017/02/02 at 04.00 PM
Bo. 23   Academy of Chess Education Rtg - 1   Airport Authority of India Rtg 0 : 4
1.1  
  Suraj, Choudhary
1842 - IM
  Puranik, Abhimanyu
2481 0 - 1
1.2  
  Abdul Aleem Khan,
0 - IM
  Stany, G.A.
2500 0 - 1
1.3  
  Sheikh, Jahan
1390 - GM
  Sunilduth Lyna, Narayanan
2524 0 - 1
1.4  
  Ahirwal, Manish
1332 - IM
  Rajesh, V A V
2317 0 - 1

Donning board one for AAI was Abhimanyu Puranik (2481)

World Junior Bronze medalist S.L. Narayanan in action

The man with an exact rating of 2500! Stany G.A plays on third board for AAI

You know the team is strong when you have Rajesh VAV playing on board four!

With a rating average of 2515 the Airport Authorities of India look very strong, but they will have stiff challenge from Railways A, who have an average Elo of 2501!

Bo. 2   Indian Railway A Rtg - 24   Bihar State - B Rtg 4 : 0
2.1 IM
  Karthikeyan, P.
2506 -  
  Vikash, Kumar Dwivedi
1803 1 - 0
2.2 GM
  Deepan, Chakkravarthy J.
2480 -  
  Vijay, Prakash
0 1 - 0
2.3 IM
  Thejkumar, M. S.
2461 -  
  Pandey, Shubham
0 1 - 0
2.4 IM
  Himanshu, Sharma
2484 -  
  Amod, Jha
0 1 - 0

People are still debating whether he is a GM or not, there is no one arguing about his chess strength. P. Karthikeyan (2506)

The solid and experienced grandmaster dons the second board for Railways A

The recently married IM Himanshu Sharma will be looking to get closer to the magical 2500 figure. He is on 2484 and has completed all his GM norms.

GM Swapnil Dhopade has already begun his exploits in Madhya Pradesh by winning the Mandla Open. He is a rock solid player and with M.S. Thejkumar, the Railways A look like an extremely formidable team.

Bo. 25   Punjab State Rtg - 3   Air India Rtg 0 : 4
3.1  
  Rajesh Mittal, check fide id
0 - IM
  Satyapragyan, Swayangsu
2442 0 - 1
3.2  
  Adarsh, Bhanot
1309 - IM
  Swayams, Mishra
2460 0 - 1
3.3  
  Sharma, Pankaj
1849 - IM
  Narayanan, Srinath
2474 0 - 1
3.4  
  Yudhveer, Singh
1408 - GM
  Bakre, Tejas
2457 0 - 1

Air India is the third seed. The team has a nice mix of experienced players as well youngsters.

Tejas Bakre brings with him years of experience to the board

IM N. Srinath is on board three and...

...Swayams Mishra is on board two

Playing on board one is four GM norms holder IM S. Satyapragyan
o. 4   Indian Railway B Rtg - 26   Unite Indore Chess Club Rtg 4 : 0
4.1 IM
  Nitin, S.
2428 -  
  Nema, Anupam
1697 1 - 0
4.2 IM
  Krishna, C R G
2408 -  
  Dadwani, Sahil
1351 1 - 0
4.3 IM
  Rathnakaran, K.
2407 -  
  Aditya, Gupta
1225 1 - 0
4.4 GM
  Laxman, R.R.
2409 -  
  Chhattani, Shourya
1153 1 - 0

Indian Railways B might not be able to compete with the likes of AAI and Railways A, but it goes without saying that each of their players has the capability of beating any player on their best day.

The blitz king: R.R. Laxman!

Indian Mikhail Tal K. Ratnakaran

The Open section has a few more good teams in the form of Viyugam CA and LIC, who are the fifth and sixth seeds respectively. 

Anup Deshmukh, the man who would like to be a grandmaster after the age of 50 years plays for board one!

GM Sriram Jha had won the Bhopal Open at the same venue and would like to repeat the feat for his team!

D. K. Sharma is on board three

Women's section

No. Team RtgAvg
1 Air India 2264
2 Airport Authority of India 2138
3 LIC 1920
4 Tamil Nadu 1888
5 Bengal Chess 1862
6 Madhya Pradesh - A 1520
7 Gujarat Chess 1362
8 Telangana State 1133
9 Himachal Pradesh 1108
10 Madhya Pradesh - B 1098

The biggest attraction at the event is definitely Air India team consisting of Vijayalakshmi, Meenakshi, Bhakti Kulkarni and Aarthie Ramaswamy. They are rated nearly 130 points above the second seeds and look like a clear favourite to win the title.

Round 1 on 2017/02/02
Bo. 8   Telangana State Rtg - 1   Air India Rtg 0 : 4
1.1  
  Yagna, Priya Polisetty
1044 - IM
  Vijayalakshmi, Subbaraman
2379 0 - 1
1.2  
  Pranitha, Priya Polisetty
1024 - WGM
  Meenakshi, Subbaraman
2164 0 - 1
1.3  
  Aedunuthula, Apoorva
0 - WGM
  Kulkarni, Bhakti
2299 0 - 1
1.4  
  Rajarshi, A
1352 - WGM
  Ramaswamy, Aarthie
2085 0 - 1

Always a pleasure to see her in action. The legendary S. Vijayalakshmi!

Vijayalakshmi's sister Meenakshi takes the second board for Air India 

Strong Bhakti Kulkarni on board three

One of the forces behind the best chess academy in India: Chess Gurukul, Aarthie Ramaswamy is on board four
Bo. 2   Airport Authority of India Rtg - 9   Himachal Pradesh Rtg 4 : 0
2.1 WFM
  Srija, Seshadri
2164 -  
  Santosh, Kumari
1432 1 - 0
2.2 WIM
  Parnali, S Dharia
2161 -  
  Chahat,
0 1 - 0
2.3 WFM
  Pujari, Rucha
2127 -  
  Sakshi, Sharma
0 1 - 0
2.4 WIM
  Chitlange, Sakshi
2098 -  
  Sunita, Devi
0 1 - 0

The second seeds AAI consist of young bloods: Srija, Parnali, Rucha and Sakshi. It will be interesting to see if they can upset the mighty Air India!

Team LIC has two strong players in the form of Kiran Manisha Mohanty...

....and Swati Ghate. But their other two boards aren't so great which doesn't give them a huge chance  

Madhya Pradesh is bringing in some great chess activity in the country and this is sure to spur on young talents!

 

About the author

Gopakumar became an A-grade International Arbiter during the FIDE Arbiter's Commission meeting. He is only the fifth Indian to achieve this feat. He was the chief arbiter at two 2600+ double round robin events, Asian Youth Chief Arbiter at South Korea, Deputy chief arbiter at Asian Youth and Asian Junior at New Delhi. He dedicates his success to the Air Force background that he comes from. 

Related:

National Teams 2016: A gripping affair