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Abhijeet Gupta starts with a hard-fought win

Abhijeet Gupta

Abhijeet GuptaAbu Dhabi (UAE): Grandmaster and former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta got off to a fine start, scoring a hard-fought win over Zendan Al-Zendani of Yemen in the first round of Abu Dhabi Masters here today.

The first round started with a last minute pairing change owing to a few withdrawals but this did not deter most of the Indians from cruising to easy victories in the opener.

The lone shocker came from highly regarded Grandmaster Surya Shekhar Ganguly who went down to Iranian girl Mitra Hejazipour after enjoying a commanding position for the major part of the game. Fenil Shah was another Indian to go down but he faced a much tougher opponent in Amin Baseem of Egypt.

On the other hand, Indian Grandmasters Vidit Gujrathi, M R Lalith Babu, G N Gopal, Vaibhav Suri, Ankit Rajpara, Sahaj Grover and M Shyam Sundar started their campaign with wins in this 85 players, nine-round tournament being played under FIDE’s Swiss rules.

It was also business as usual for the higher seeds. Rating favourite Hao Wang of China outplayed Oliver Demakiling of Philippines, while Mohammad Sahir of Syria and Mohamed Tissir of Morocco proved no match for the Ukrainian duo of Yuriy Kryvoruchko and Alexander Areshchenko, respectively.

Gupta found minutes before the game that he was slated to play black against Zendan Al-Zendani instead of earlier declared white against another opponent.

It was a Sicilian defense by the Indian wherein the Al-Zendani came up with an inspired performance to bring the game close to a draw.

For the records it was an extra pawn for Gupta in a rook and opposite coloured Bishops endgame that was hard convert. However, relentless display forced Al-Zendani to the back foot and Gupta forced resignation after 68 moves.

M R Lalith Babu had a relatively easier outing against Osama Zayan of Egypt out a Pirc defense game. Playing black, Babu knocked down a pawn in the middle game and later won more material to open his account in style.

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