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The strongest secret tournament in India!

by Sagar Shah - 21/12/2017

IM V. Saravanan writes on Facebook: "Psst.... THAT secret tournament has started this year again!" Yes, it's the strongest secret tournament in Indian chess and it is currently in progress in Digboi, Assam. It's a team championship between various units of Petroleum Sports Promotion Board which is employing the big stars of Indian chess. Three teams have the chance of winning the title - BPCL led by Harikrishna Pentala, IOCL consisting of Adhiban, Lalith and others and ONGC which has Sasi and Vidit. IA Vasanth B.H, the chief arbiter of the event, sends us the impressions from Assam.

Harikrishna is here! | Photo: IA Vasanth B.H

So is Vidit! | Photo: IA Vasanth B.H

Sasikiran fighting intensely as he always does! | Photo: IA Vasanth B.H

Adhiban has his two bishops trained towards opponent's king! | Photo: IA Vasanth B.H

This is the gathering of some of the best players in Indian chess! But where exactly is it happening? Well, it's taking place in Digboi in the state of Assam. It's PSPB's inter-unit chess tournament. As all the top players of Indian chess (except Anand) are employed by Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) it is compulsory for them to participate in this team event and represent their organization. So Harikrishna plays for BPCL, Vidit and Sasikiran for ONGC, Adhiban for Indian Oil and so on. Just to give you an idea, here are the top ten ranked players participating:

The starting rank:

1GMHarikrishna P.50070032744INDBPCL1
2GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi50294652715INDONGC-A2
3GMSasikiran Krishnan50049852680INDONGC-A1
4GMAdhiban B.50184712655INDIOCL-A2
5GMGanguly Surya Shekhar50021502650INDIOCL-A3
6GMSethuraman S.P.50215962646INDONGC-A4
7GMGupta Abhijeet50106082610INDBPCL5
8GMGopal G.N.50156932593INDBPCL2
9GMSengupta Deep50083522586INDONGC-A3
10GMKarthikeyan Murali50744522580INDIOCL-A4

Check the complete starting rank list

Only three teams have a realistic chance of winning the title, and the battle for being the winner will take place between them. ONGC -A is the top seed with rating average of 2657, BPCL is number two with 2622 and IOCL-A has a rating average of 2607.


1GMSasikiran Krishnan2680IND50049851,02,0
2GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi2715IND50294652,03,0
3GMSengupta Deep2586IND50083521,02,0
4GMSethuraman S.P.2646IND50215962,03,0
5GMDebashis Das2501IND50248541,02,0


1GMHarikrishna P.2744IND50070032,03,0
2GMGopal G.N.2593IND50156932,03,0
3GMVenkatesh M.R.2428IND50057792,02,0
4GMVaibhav Suri2542IND50451850,01,0
5GMGupta Abhijeet2610IND50106082,03,0


  3. IOCL-A (RtgAvg:2607 / TB1: 4 / TB2: 8)
1GMLalith Babu M R2542IND50245952,03,0
2GMAdhiban B.2655IND50184712,02,0
3GMGanguly Surya Shekhar2650IND50021501,02,0
4GMKarthikeyan Murali2580IND50744522,03,0
5GMKunte Abhijit2499IND50022651,02,0

As Deputy chief arbiter Biswajit Bharadwaj mentioned in his press release, "This is in fact the first time that almost all the top players of the country are playing together in the Northeast region, particularly in Assam. Altogether 66 players including 18 Grand Masters and 7 International Masters from 9 units namely ONGC, BPCL, IOCL, OIL INDIA, MRPL, HPCL, EIL, IOCL(AOD) and NRL are participating in this 5 days event in which competition in both team and individual events in swiss league format will be held."

The Golden Jubilee Hall in Digboi, Assam. I wouldn't image players of this stature playing in such a tournament hall except for the inter-unit tournaments.

Results Round 1:

Round 1 on 2017/12/20 at 10:00 am
1  ONGC-A  HPCL-A4:0
3  IOCL-A  EIL4:0
4  HPCL-B  IOCL-B0:4
7  MRPL  NRL4:0

Results Round 2:

Round 2 on 2017/12/20 at 03:00 pm
1  IOCL-B  ONGC-A1:3
2  BPCL  ONGC-B4:0
4  HPCL-A  MRPL2:2
6  EIL  IOCL(AOD)-B3:1
7  NRL  HPCL-B0:4

Abhijeet Gupta is surprisingly playing n the last board of BPClL. He has scored 2.0/2 | Photo: IA Vasanth B.H

Four time national women's champion Padmini Rout having a great time on and off the board! Off the board is apparent from the picture above, and on the board she beat Deep Sengupta in round two! | Photo: Padmini Rout Facebook page

Gopal was in his element as he beat Konguvel Ponnuswamy with the black pieces in round two | Photo: IA Vasanth B.H

Lalith Babu got the better of Nisha Mohota and helped his team IOCL win against Oil India | Photo: IA Vasanth B.H

The queen on h4 doesn't really bother Karthikeyan Murali. He is on 2.0/2 for his team IOCL | Photo: IA Vasanth B.H

The master of endgames Varghese Koshy is on 1.0/2. He lost to M.R. Venkatesh

Until round two things are going as per schedule. Teams ONGC, IOCL and BPCL are all on 4.0/4. The real battle starts from round three onwards as ONGC is pitted against BPCL. The next four rounds will decide who will become the inter-petroleum champion for the year 2017.


The tournament has been organised by Petroleum Sports promotion Board and hosted by Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Assam Oil Division at Digboi from 20th to 24th December 2017 The meet was formally inaugurated by Mritunjay Pramanik, Executive Director, IOCL (Assam Oil Division), A. K Tamuli, General Manager (I/C) IOCL (Assam Oil Division),S pandey, Chief General Manager, Vigilance, IOCL (Assam Oil Division), Amar Jyoti Saikia, General Manager (Zonal Office) IOCL (Assam Oil Division) in the presence of the players, officials, guests and other dignitaries. The event is being conducted by International Arbiter Vasanth Bh of Karnataka as the Chief Arbiter, FIDE Arbiter Biswajit Bharadwaj as Deputy Chief Arbiter and Senior National Arbiter Swaraj Buragohain as Deputy Arbiter.


ChessBase India is the only place where you can find the coverage of this super strong event. We thank International Arbiter Vasanth B.H. for sending us these wonderful pictures and we look forward to some games as well!

One of the most competent arbiters of Indian chess - Vasanth B.H.