Grandmaster and former National champion Abhijit Kunte scored a crushing victory over fifth seed Ni Hua of China in the first round of 13th Asian Continental chess championship here on Friday.

The Catalan opening by the Indian led to a small advantage and some wily manoeuvres by Kunte forced Ni to go on the defensive. It was a relentless display by Kunte as he dominated with a passed pawn on a queen side and later took two pawns to the seventh rank to finish the game in 41 moves.

On what turned out to be a generally good day for the Indians, third seed Krishnan Sasikiran started off in style beating Jehongir Vakhidov of Uzbekistan, while Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Abhijeet Gupta also took off on a positive note at the expense of Amirezza Pourramezanali of Iran and Munkhgal Gombosuren of Mongolia.

Grandmasters B. Adhiban, S.P. Sethuraman, G.N. Gopal, Deep Sengupta, Vaibhav Suri and Debashish Das also ended as winners, while former Asian champion Parimarjan Negi, M.R. Lalith Babu and Vidit Gujrathi were held to draws.

The tournament, which is a part of the next world championship cycle, saw an early upset on the top board too, as Bu Xiangzhi of China had to split the point with compatriot Gao Rui.

In the women’s section, IM Tania Sachdev defeated Gu Tianlu of China. Tania was surprised early as some withdrawal led to change of colours just before the round but she did not lose her composure and won a hard-fought game.

Tan Zhongyi of China suffered a shock defeat against Vietnamese Nguyen Thi Thanh.

The results (involving Indians): First round: Men: Rustam Kasimdzhanov (UZB) bt M. Shyam Sundar; Jahongir Vakhidov (UZB) lost to Krishnan Sasikiran; Abhijit Kunte bt Ni Hua (CHN); Parimarjan Negi drew with V. Vishnu Prasanna; Amirezza Pourramezanali (IRI) lost to Surya Shekhar Ganguly; Abhijeet Gupta bt Munkhgal Gombosuren (MGL); Xu Yinglun (CHN) drew with Vidit Gujrathi; B. Adhiban bt Akshat Khamparia.

Nezad Husein Aziz (QAT) drew with M.R. Lalith Babu; S.P. Sethuraman bt Fang Yan (CHN); Al-Hadarani Hatim (YEM) lost to G.N. Gopal; Deep Sengupta bt Raes Abdul Kader (SYR); Temur Igonin (UZB) lost to Vaibhav Suri; Debashis Das bt Ibrahim Chahrour (LIB).

Women: Gu Tianlu (CHN) lost to Tania Sachdev; Eesha Karavade drew with Dorsa Derakhshani (IRI); Hulkar Tohirjonova (UZB) drew with Mary Ann Gomes; Nazrana Khan (BAN) lost to Soumya Swaminathan; Swati Ghate bt S. Njoud (KSA).

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