Chennai’s chess strength is always admired by visitors. George Daniel, retired from BSNL in Chennai, held International Master Rahul Shetty of Mumbai in the opening round surprise of the Chennai Super Kings International Grand Master chess tournament that got underway here on Tuesday.

Locals fought hard and though almost all favourites won, it was not without a good fight. Of the 127 boards, only three draws were recorded and higher rated players prevailed in the rest. Lower rated players did not manage to win any game and that was significant.

Two rounds are slated for Wednesday and the energy levels of the players will be tested. Most of the leading players here have come straight from Delhi and should feel the heat at the board and outside the air-conditioned hall.

Among the comfortable winners of the day included Karthikeyan Murali and Ram S. Krishnan. Karthikeyan Murali has three International Master norms and a Grand Master norm and is widely expected to become India’s youngest Grand Master.

India’s title aspirants here include Adhiban, Sethuraman and Lalith Babu, all GMs, who won round one. The Indian sub-continent’s first GM Niaz Murshed, an architect from Bangladesh, also won round one with ease.

M. Balasubramaniam, Director, Brookefields & Spencer Plaza, inaugurated the event by making a symbolic move against Bharat Singh, Honorary Secretary of the All India Chess Federation.

There are 254 players in the fray of which 228 are from India. There are 13 GMs and players from 13 nations competing. A total of 50 players have titles. Ten rounds remain to be played.

Important results (Indians, unless stated), round one: A. Anirudh lost to A. Aleksandrov (Blr), A. Deviatkin (Rus) bt Siva Mahadevan, V. Varshini lost to B. Adhiban, S.P. Sethuraman bt M. Aadhityaa, Naren Swaminathan lost to M. Dzhumaev (Uzb), M.R. Lalith Babu bt A. Godbole, P. Iniyan lost to Lu Shanglei (Chn), Z. Rahman (Ban) bt J. Rajasurya, Kumar Gaurav lost to Henrik Teske (Ger), Wan Yunguo (Chn) bt Ameya Audi.

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