Amid a series of predictable results, the effort of 12-year-old Nagpur-boy Sankalp Gupta stood out as he stunned third seeded Italian Grandmaster Alberto David in the opening round of the Delhi International Open chess tournament here.

Three other unexpected newsmakers at the Ludlow Castle Sports Complex were Vinayak Kulkarni, Rajesh Nayak and S. Adhithya who enjoyed their moments of fame by holding Grandmasters Artur Gabrielian (Russia), Nguyen Huynh Minh Huy (Vietnam) and Attila Czebe (Hungary).

Of the lot, Nayak’s effort was more commendable since he needed 122 moves to stay undefeated, in what was the last game to finish, against a rival rated 466 points higher.

Given the format of Swiss League where the top-half of the field plays the bottom half in the first round, results usually come on expected lines.

Therefore, when a pre-teen lad upstages a Grandmaster, with a whopping 529 separating the two, it obviously becomes the talking point.

Sankalp, who beat a Grandmaster for the first time on this day (he drew with Saptarshi Roy Choudhary once) was surprisingly in control of his emotions after punishing David for a series of moves of sub-optimal strength.

In the semi-Tarrasch line of Queen’s Gambit Declined, Sankalp went for the castled black king by preparing his pieces for a decisive assault. A somewhat casual David overlooked the loss of a king-side pawn on the 21st move and thereafter, Sankalp gave nothing away.

The youngster seized the opportunity to grab two more pawns on the 28th and 30th moves. Sankalp’s advanced central pawn was looking increasingly menacing. Such was Sankalp’s grip on the game that he could afford to spare a trapped black rook and still tighten the noose. A desperate David could not find a way out and gave up after 34 moves.

Sankalp’s triumph also pushed to the background Vinayak Kulkarni’s 60-move draw against Gabrielian, rated 502 points above. Adhitya, rated at a modest 2018, kept Czebe (2466) at bay for 61 moves before walking away with honours even.


First round (Indians unless stated): O. T. Anil Kumar lost to Boris Gravis (Rus); Ivan Popov (Rus) bt Subhayan Kundu; Sankalp Gupta bt David Alberto (Ita); Anton Demchenko (Rus) bt Jitendra Choudhary; Ameya Audi lost to Yuri Solodovnichenko (Ukr); Vitaly Sivuk (Ukr) bt Suvradeepta Das; Pardeep Arora lost to Mikhail Mozharov (Rus); Vladimir Belous (Rus) bt Sharang Kapoor; Chandreyee Hajra lost to Adam Tukhaev (Ukr); M. R. Lalith Babu bt Vantika Agrawal; Sohan Phadke lost to Vaibhav Suri; Vitaliy Bernadskiy (Ukr) bt Kautil Kakumanu; Vinayak Kulkarni drew with Artur Gabrielian (Rus); Ernst Sipke (Ned) bt D. Gukesh; S. Adhithya drew with Attila Czebe (Hun).