Madhurima Shekhar held Grandmaster Mahjoob Morteza of Iran in the first round of the Dubai International Chess Open here on Monday.

Playing the white side of a Sicilian Taimanov, Madhurima got her play rolling in the centre in the earlier part of the game and Morteza could not do anything better than transpose to an endgame where the draw was imminent.

This was Madhurima's first draw against a Grandmaster.

Meanwhile, the higher ranked Indians got off to fliers in one of the strongest ever Asian Opens, with most of them coasting to easy victories.

Defending champion Abhijeet Gupta, after the game against Myazi Mehad of Egypt, said he was “stretched but not troubled.”

Out of a Grunfeld defense, Gupta won a pawn in the middle game and coasted to victory in the ensuing endgame.

Parimarjan Negi was amongst the first Indians to romp home victories at the expense of Ayyad Maher of Brunei. It turned out to be a perfect attack by Parimarjan out of a Sicilian defence.

Surya Shekhar Ganguly was in his element with white pieces against Mark Basencyan of Armenia.

Amongst the other Indians in the fray, G.N. Gopal had to sweat it out against unheralded Sameir Ramez of Egypt from the white pieces. It was a confidence boosting technical victory by Gopal in the end. — PTI

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