Al Ain (UAE): International Master K Rathnakaran caused a major upset, defeating seventh seed Grandmaster Zhong Zhang of Singapore in the first round of Asian Continental chess championship here.
Rathnakaran turned the tables on the former Chinese after staring at a defeat for the major part of the game. This victory might be the launch pad for what would be Rathnakaran's final Grandmaster norm.
Grandmaster Koneru Humpy suffered a reversal in the opener as she went down to Asyl Abdyjapar of Kyrgyzstan in a game that the world number three woman player could have saved.
The Capablanca variation in the Nimzo Indian defense game gave Humpy equal chances in the middle game but she missed the thread and landed in a lost endgame after giving away a couple of pawns.
Humpy and Harika are the two woman players taking part in the open section instead of women's category. Harika ended up drawing her first round game with Basher Iyti of Syria.
Meanwhile, highest rated Indian, Vidit Gujrathi put it across Bangladeshi Grandmaster Enamul Hossain to open his account in style. Krishnan Sasikiran was also quite up to the task in crushing Petr Kostenko of Kazakhstan.
Recently crowned Commonwealth champion Abhijeet Gupta, however, could not strike form in the premier Asian event as he had to split the point against talented Iranian youngster Parham Maghsoodloo.
The other fancied Indians had it easy as Surya Shekhar Ganguly, S P Sethuraman and M R Lalith Babu also cruised home in the first round. The event is being held as part of the next world championship cycle and there are 83 participants in the fray for five seats up for grabs.
There is a total of USD 87000 USD prize money at stake in both open and women's section. The event will also have blitz and rapid championship to determine the best Asian player in faster version of the game.
In the women's championship, which is being held simultaneously, International Master and former champion Tania Sachdev suffered a setback at the hands of unheralded Ranaa Hakimifard of Iran.
Tania's recent bad run continued in the first round here too as she was not able to handle a king side attack arising out of an Italian opening. Second seeded Indian Padmini Rout, however, was in her elements as she won with black pieces against Nguyen Thi Thanh An of Vietnam.
Minoo Asgarizadeh was no match for Eesha Karavade, while S Vijayalakshmi, Soumya Swaminathan and Bhakti Kulkarni also took off with a victory.
The women's championship is also part of next women's world championship cycle. However, only the winner from here gets qualified to the next stage.