International Master Eesha Karavade was impressive in the opener as she held English GM Gawain Jones to a draw in the 126000 Pounds (Appr. Rs 91 Lacs) prize money tournament, which saw most of the big guns scoring.
At the top of the table, stalwarts Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, defending champion Michael Adams of England and Fabiano Caruana of Italy did not have much problems in cruising home against their modestly rated opponents.
Other Indians -- Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran and International Master Vaibhav Suri -- who arrived late here, got only a half point bye in the first round.
Due to the weather conditions their flight was re-routed to Malaga in Spain and since they did not possess a Schengen Visa, the documentation took a lot more time delaying their departure to Gibraltar.
So both Sasikiran and Vaibhav will commence their 'real tournament' from the second round.Meanwhile, Grandmaster Sandipan Chanda scored a routine victory over Mads Andersen of Denmark while the other two Indians GMs Deep Sengupta and G N Gopal also got off to a flier against Nils-Ake Malmdin of Sweden and David Cummings of Canada, respectively.
IM Arghyadip Das, too, managed to outplay Alan Byron of England. On the other hand, double GM norm holder D Harika was held on to a draw by Louis Sanchez of France.
Playing black Harika missed out on some opportunities and had to finally settle for a draw.
Seeded tenth in a strong field, Harikrishna was the highest rated Grandmaster to drop a half point against Sarkar. Playing black the Indian tried very hard but Sarkar remained on his guard to force the draw.
For the records it was a Nimzo Indian defense wherein Sarkar managed to trade three minor pieces early to force an opposite Coloured Bishops middle game and after further exchanges the result of the game was never in doubt. Harikrishna signed peace in 87 moves.
Eesha had to fight very hard to force the draw against Jones. It was King's Indian defense where the former played white and ran in to difficulties in the middle game with black's ominous looking center.
An exchange sacrifice by the Indian however saw her remain in the game even though the position was quite worse. Jones erred and allowed Eeash to liquidate to a theoretically drawn endgame. Yet Eesha had to fight for 109 moves before she secured the morale-boosting half point.
Important and Indian results round 1 (Indians unless stated): Jean-Baptiste Mullon (Fra) lost to Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr); Michael Adams (Eng) beat Charles Monroy (Fra); Nezad Husein Aziz (Qat) lost to Fabiano Caruana (Ita); Francisco Vallejo Pons (Esp) beat Melia Salome (Geo); Justin Sarkar (Usa) drew with P Harikrishna; Nigel Short beat Alexei Slavin (Rus); Mads Andersen (Den) lost to Sandipan Chanda; David Cummings (Can) lost to GN Gopal; Eesha Karavade drew with Gawain Jones (Eng); Deep Sengupta beat Malmdin Nils-Ake (Swe); Louis Sanchez (Fra) drew with D Harika; Arghyadip Das beat Alan Byron (Eng).