In the peaceful environs of Jain Hills, the 51st National chess championship got off to an exciting start with defending champion G. Akash and National challengers’ title-winner Thej Kumar figuring among the four casualties on Tuesday.

An action-packed opening day saw Akshat Khamparia accounting for Akash in 51 moves and Grandmaster Lalith Babu overpowering Thej in 39 moves.

The other decisive battles also saw the winner emerging from behind the white pieces. Second seeded K. Sasikiran expectedly outwitted fellow GM, Vishnu Prasanna in 42 moves before Deepan Chakkravarthy needed 87 moves to thwart P. Shyamnikhil’s plans of forcing a draw.

Playing black, top seed Parimarjan Negi settled for a 25-move draw with Ashwin Jayaram, as did GM in-waiting Debashis Das against G.A. Stany after 27 moves. B. Adhiban, too, signed peace with K. Ratnakaran in 40 moves.

Facing the Kings Indian Defence, Akshat exploited Akash’s dubious 11th move and slowly seized the initiative.

Akash traded his rook for a well-placed knight to improve his chances but, due to paucity of time, missed out on a shorter course to victory.

Eventually, Akshat’s advanced-pawn on the king's side proved decisive.

Lalith posted his first career-victory over Thej in Queen’s Gambit Declined.

The results: First round: G.A. Stany drew with Debashis Das; Akshat Khamparia bt G. Akash; Ashwin Jayaram drew with Parimarjan Negi; K. Sasikiran bt Vishnu Prasanna; Deepan Chakkaravarthy bt P. Shyamnikhil; B. Adhiban drew with K. Ratnakaran; M. R. Lalith Babu bt Thej Kumar.

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