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MPL 42nd National Team Open and 20th National Team Women Chess Championship 2023 preview

by R Anantharam - 09/02/2023

The strongest nationals after the National Premier championship – the national team championship boast the participation of several grandmasters, IMs, WGMs and WIMs. The venue is Dr. Mahalingam College of Engineering & Technology, Pollachi whose founder Dr.N. Mahalingam was a former president of All India Chess Federation and Tamil Nadu State Chess Association for many years. The dates are from 10th to 16th February 2023. In the absence of the strong PSPB team in 2022, the Airports Authority of India won the title and the Railway Sports Promotion Board clinched the second and third places. But this year they are expected to face stiff resistance from the PSPB, Railways and also an all GMs team from Tamil Nadu. Photo: IA R Anantharam

Strong National Team Championships for Open and Women at Pollachi

Three former national champions and grandmasters, B Adhiban, Surya Sekhar Ganguly and Karthikeyan Murali, the highest rated player of the tournament (2626) are part of the Petroleum Sports Promotion team. The other two members are GMs Gopal G N and GM Vaibhav Suri.

B Adhiban and Karthikeyan Murali (first and second from right) have retained their slot in the PSPB team

The experience of six times national champion Surya Sekhar Ganguly will help the PSPB team very much

The team has a whopping average of 2608, the only team having an average above 2600.

  1. PSPB Men (RtgAvg:2608 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0)
1GMKarthikeyan, Murali26265783202150744520
2GMAdhiban, B.26102698202150184710
3GMGanguly, Surya Shekhar258211183202150021500
4GMVaibhav, Suri26064752202150451850
5GMGopal, G.N.25892497202150156930

The AAI team is headed by Aravindh Chithambaram Vr, the first Indian ever to hold the crown of National champion in all three formats of chess.

Aravindh Chithambaram, the triple national champion in a calendar year represents AAI | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy

The team also has grandmasters Abhimanyu Puranik, Sankalp Gupta and IM Harshavardhan G B in its rank. The average of the team is 2535.

GM Abhimanyu Puranik is the second highest rated player in the AAI team | Photo: Shahid Ahmed
  2. AAI (RtgAvg:2535 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0)
1GMAravindh, Chithambaram Vr.2613706202150727860
2GMPuranik, Abhimanyu25962431202150612450
3GMSankalp, Gupta250494373202150970100
4IMHarshavardhan, G B242814082021250590090

The AAI team bagged a double in the last edition, when it won the women tournament also in Jalgoan, Maharashtra. PSPB were the runner-up and the Maharashtra A team finished third.


The third seeded Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) A team having an average of 2514 comprises GM Swapnil Dhopade, GM Visakh N R, IM Aronyak Ghosh, GM Karthikeyan P and IM Vignesh N R. While one can count on the reliable Swapnil Dhopade, the brothers GM Visakh N R and the would-be GM Vignesh N R form a formidable combination. Both Aronyak and Karthikeyan are in good nick.

GM Swapnil Dhopade spearheads the Railway A team

IM Vignesh N R is in great form
  3. RSPB A (RtgAvg:2514 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0)
1IMVignesh, N R249347542021250122150
2GMSwapnil, S. Dhopade24992426202150191840
3GMKarthikeyan, P.23162148202150182260
4GMVisakh, N R254447552021250122230
5IMAronyak, Ghosh2521879982021250728460

Another team with an average above 2500 rating is the B team from Tamil Nadu.

A strong player and a top class coach GM Shyam Sundar M adds strength to the Tamil Nadu B team | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

The latest grandmaster from India Pranesh M is in fine fettle | Photo: Shahid Ahmed
  4. Tamil Nadu B (RtgAvg:2509 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0)
1GMIniyan, P251416222021250027670
2GMArjun, Kalyan251630462021350187010
3IMPranesh, M250429642021350286000
4GMAkash, G24954554820135040299AICF0
5GMShyam, Sundar M.2502705202150191410

The host team is blended with youth and experience, as the 2013 national champion Akash G makes a comeback and the youngsters Iniyan P and Arjun Kalyan will offer stiff resistance to higher rated GMs.

IM P Shyam Nikhil, who is in search of his third GM-norm is the highest rated player in the B team of Railways | Photo: CFSL

GM Deepan Chakravarthy, a former Asian Junior champion fights till the last for his team victory | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

IM Sayantan Das, IM C R G Krishna and IM Arghyadip Das picked up themselves into the B team due to their splendid performance in the recent Inter Railway championship.

  5. RSPB B (RtgAvg:2476 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0)
1IMShyaamnikhil, P24905949202150242180
2IMDas, Sayantan24756500202150344260
3IMKrishna, C R G24804678202150186250
4GMDeepan, Chakkravarthy J.245799815202150111320
5IMDas, Arghyadip243811184202150036100

Veteran GM Sriram Jha leads the LIC team | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy
  8. LIC (RtgAvg:2190 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0)
1GMSriram, Jha2337122280202250016680
2IMSharma, Dinesh K.22392807202150041100
3WGMSwati, Ghate208987076202150034740
4WGMKiran, Manisha Mohanty20962509202150195750
5Gajendra, Singh18016233202150029230

On the distaff side, PSPB is fielding an unassailable team with three IMs, one WGM and one WIM. Former Asian champion Padmini Rout has a rating of 2389, followed by the former national champion Soumya Swaminathan whose rating is 2308.

IM Padmini Rout, former Asian women champion plays for PSPB | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

IM Soumya Swaminathan, a former national champion, is also a member of the PSPB team | Photo: Chess Association Kolhapur

The average rating of the team is 2331. Two more former national champions Eesha Karavade and Mary Ann Gomes together with the young WIM Isha Sharma will go all out to conquer.

  2. PSPB Women (RtgAvg:2331 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0)
1IMPadmini, Rout2389IND50292950
2IMSoumya, Swaminathan2308IND50161930
3IMKaravade, Eesha2294IND50126000
4WGMGomes, Mary Ann2334IND50136230
5WIMSharma, Isha2213IND350066650

Airport Authority of India has a young and energetic team comprising national champion WGM Divya Deshmukh, national online champion for women WGM Vantika Agarwal, WIMs Arpita Mukherjee and K Priyanka. They have an average rating of 2274 among women.

Vantika, and Divya play for the AAI whereas Mary plays for PSPB | Photo: AICF
  1. AAI Women (RtgAvg:2274 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0)
1WGMDivya, Deshmukh2363IND350069160
2WIMArpita, Mukherjee2185IND50564030
5WGMVantika, Agrawal2370IND250503890
6WIMPriyanka, K2177IND50829860

The next best women team from Maharashtra has a rating average 200 points less that of PSPB. The team cannot be underestimated due to the presence of three talented WIMs Sakshi Chitlange, WIM Aashna Makhija and WIM Mrudul Dehankar.

WIM Sakshi Chitlange, the top player in the Maharashtra team | Photo: Chess Association Kolhapur

WIM Aashna Makhija is the second-highest rated player in the Maharashtra team | Photo: Chess Association Kolhapur

National under-18 champion WFM Bhagyashree Patil and WFM Vishwa Shah are the other members of the team.

  3. Maharashtra Women A (RtgAvg:2132 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0)
1WIMChitlange, Sakshi2239IND350028990
2WIMMakhija, Aashna2129IND250119440
3WIMMrudul, Dehankar2034IND250969900
4WFMShah, Vishwa2127IND250005940
5WFMBhagyashree, Patil1913IND250532560

The Tamil Nadu women B team headed by M Rajadharshini stands fourth in the starting rank.


The venue of the team championship Dr. Mahalingam College of Engineering has earned a permanent name in the Indian chess map. The way in which the under 18 nationals was conducted last year is just astonishing. Free accommodation and food was provided to all players and parents; the playing hall was a very big auditorium and all players were picked up from and dropped at Coimbatore railway station/airport, which is 45 km away for their arrival and departure.

A view of half of the playing hall of the under 18 nationals 2022 at MCET, Pollachi | Photo: IA R Anantharam

The Chairman of the college Dr. M Manickam is also the president of the Tamil Nadu State Chess Association, who evinces keen interest in promoting chess.

Dr. M Manickam in a chess discussion with grandmasters S Kidambi, R B Ramesh, WGM Aaarthie Ramswamy and Srinath Narayanan; D V Sundar, former Vice President of FIDE is next to Dr. Manickam

The founder of the college and former president of All India Chess Federation and Tamil Nadu State Chess Association, Dr. Mahalingam’s contribution to chess is immense. He patronised chess in a big way and his compassion to chess players in distress was phenomenal. He instituted incentives to players who achieved international and grandmaster titles which inspired the chess players to achieve more and more. He was instrumental in the central government recognising chess as a major sports eligible for grants.

Dr. N Mahalingam playing chess with five time world champion Vishy Anand

The championship is jointly organised by Coimbatore District Chess Association and Dr. N Mahalingam College of Engineering. If the records are correct, CDCA founded in 1940 is most probably the oldest chess organisation in India, as TNSCA was started in 1947 and AICF in 1950. Five times world champion Vishy Anand obtained his final GM norm only in the tournament organised by Dr. N Mahalingam in Coimbatore in 1987. Anand also received his first rating in the rating tournament organised by him in 1983.

N Jayabal, President of Coimbatore District Chess Association

Dr. C Ramaswamy, the secretary of the college who is very keen to start a chess academy in the college

K Dhanasekar, Fide Instructor & Secretary of the district association

Team list in Open

1PSPB MenPSPB Men2608
4Tamil Nadu BTamil Nadu B2509
7Odisha AOdisha A2206
9Tamil Nadu CTamil Nadu C2142
10Tamil Nadu DTamil Nadu D2111


The Tamil Nadu D team having an average of 1727 will fill up the odd number vacancy.

Team list in Women

1AAI Women2274
2PSPB Women2331
3Maharashtra Women A2132
4Tamil Nadu Women B1947
5Tamil Nadu Women A1665
6Telangana Women1685
7Odisha Women A1610
8Tamil Nadu Women D1461
9Andhra Pradesh Women1269
10Himachal Women B1068


About the Author

Prof. Rathinam Anantharam is an A-grade international arbiter. Member of FIDE Arbiters’ Commission, Chairman of Titles Commission in All India Chess Federation, Vice President of Tamil Nadu State Chess Association, Chief Arbiter for six world championships, many Asian, International and National Championships.

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