India's Bhakti off to a flying start

Woman Grandmaster Bhakti Kulkarni got off to a flying start holding seventh seed compatriot Abhijeet Gupta to a hard-fought draw in the first round of Grand Europe Golden Sands chess tournament that got underway here on Tuesday.

Bhakti was, in fact, seen pressing for an advantage but Abhijeet found some fine manoeuvres to force the game into a deadlock. The Indians generally had a good day and another good result was obtained by R Bharathi who defeated International Master Ivaljo Enchev of Bulgaria.

The other Indian Grandmasters scored regulation victories in the opener. Konstantin Zalkind of Israel was no match against Vidit Gujarathi, while Deep Sengupta opened his account at the expense of Russian Alexander Kiselev.

S Arun Prasad had little difficulty in toppling Kiran Manisha Mohanty and G N Gopal also made merry against Kosta Angelov. M Shyam Sundar and youngest Indian GM in the fray, Sahaj Grover scored over Hristo Ivelinov of Bulgaria and Michael Kubik of Czech Republic respectively.

On the flip side, National Women champion Mary Ann Gomes was held to a draw by local hopeful Simoneta Ivanova and Sidhant Mohapatra was outdone by Grandmaster Dragan Solak of Turkey.

With eight rounds still to come in the 40000 Euros prize money tournament, there was not much excitement at the top as almost all top rated players started out with a victory in the first round. Abhijeet Gupta, however, was in for a surprise out of his pet Grunfeld defense against Bhakti Kulkarni. The Goan girl decided to play solidly right from the opening and the exchange of queens early did not deter her in any ways.

Indian results round 1 (Indians unless stated): Bhakti Kulkarni drew Abhijeet Gupta; Dragan Solak (Tur) bt Sidhant Mohapatra; Konstantin Zalkind (Isr) lt to Vidit Gujrathi; Deep Sengupta bt Alexander Kiselev (Rus); Kiran Manisha Mohanty lt to S Arun Prasad; GN Gopal beat Kosta Angelov (Bul); MR Venkatesh bt Gireman Ja; Hristo Ivelinov (Bul) lt to M Shyam Sundar; Debashis Das bt Velizar Sofranov (Bul); Michael Kubik (Cze) lt to Sahaj Grover; Diptayan Ghosh bt Rucha Pujari; Ivaljo Enchev (Bul) lt to R Bharathi; Antonios Xylogiannopoulos (Gre) lt to Ashwin Jayaram; Atanas Tonchev Kolev (Bul) lt to Swapnil Dhopade; N Srinath bt Baris Guven (Tur);

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