Varna (Bulgaria): 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.
Abhijeet tried to make a foray through the queen side but his pawns on the flank were tied down with a timely fixture and thereafter the trading of pieces led to a rook and pawns endgame where Bhakti played risk-free. Gupta found the resources to draw the game after 72 moves.
Indian results round 1 (Indians unless stated):
Bhakti Kulkarni drew with Abhijeet Gupta; Dragan Solak (Tur) beat Sidhant Mohapatra; Konstantin Zalkind (Isr) lost to Vidit Gujrathi; Deep Sengupta beat Alexander Kiselev (Rus); Kiran Manisha Mohanty lost to S Arun Prasad; G N Gopal beat Kosta Angelov (Bul); M R Venkatesh beat Gireman Ja; Hristo Ivelinov (Bul) lost to M Shyam Sundar; Debashis Das beat Velizar Sofranov (Bul); Michael Kubik (Cze) lost to Sahaj Grover; Diptayan Ghosh beat Rucha Pujari; Ivaljo Enchev (Bul) lost to R Bharathi; Antonios Xylogiannopoulos (Gre) lost to Ashwin Jayaram; Atanas Tonchev Kolev (Bul) lost to Swapnil Dhopade; N Srinath beat Baris Guven (Tur); N Raghavi lost to Alin-Mile Berescu (Rou); Murali Karthikeyan beat G K Monnisha; Mary Ann Gomes drew with Simoneta Ivanova (Bul); R Vaishali lost to Shardul Gagare; Anurag Mhamal beat Irina Drogovoz (Rus); Eesha Karavade beat Robert Graham Taylor (Wls); Iveri Chighladze (Geo) beat Riya Savant; Srija Seshadri lost to Velislav Kukov (Bul); G A Stany beat Uldis Melderis (Lat); Sunyasakta Satpathy lost to Ogulcan Kanmazalp; G Akash drew with David Gavrilescu (Rou); Sagar Shah beat Valentin Kamenov (Bul); Y Saranya lost to Sayantan Das; Aravindh Chithambaram beat Mihai Hlinschi (Rou); Grigore Rosca (Rou) lost to Nisha Mohota; Soumya Swaminathan beat Pavel Lobanov (Bul).