Two-time winner Abhijeet Gupta and defending champion Georgia’s Levon Pantsulaia, seeded five and six, crashed to unexpected defeats as several Grandmasters fell short of maintaining a clean slate after three rounds of Delhi International Open Grandmasters chess tournament here on Friday.

On the first of the two double-round days, Karthik Venkataraman accounted for Abhijeet in the third round after Al Muthaiah stunned Pantsulaia in the second.

Karthik, the 2018 National junior champion, gained a queenside pawn and went on to capture Abhijeet’s knight before weaving a checkmating net in 40 moves.

Muthaiah, after catching Pantsulaia on the wrong foot, surprised another Grandmaster N. R. Visakh in 61 to be among 11 leaders.

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The day also saw top seed from Tajikistan, Farrukh Amonatov drop half-a-point to Uzbekistan’s Abdimalik Abdisalimov, third seed M. Karthikeyan do likewise against Russia’s Denis Eraschenkov and Utkal Ranjan Sahoo hold ninth seeded Russian Aleksey Goganov in the second round.

There were several third round casualties, among Grandmasters. Stanislav Bogdanovich (Ukraine), seeded 12, lost to Bangladesh GM Ziaur Rahman, David Alberto (Italy) surrendered to C. R. G. Krishna, M. R. Lalith Babu succumbed against Egypt’s Abdelrahman Hesham and Niranjan Navalgund tamed Sergey Yudin (Russia). Other GMs who lost to higher rated players were Vishnu Prasanna and Columbia’s Camilo Rios Cristhian.

Second seeded Russian Pavel Ponkratov was held in 46 moves by Belarus GM Kirill Stupak in 46 moves, Saptarshi Roy drew with 11th seeded Russian Ivan Rozum in 49 moves, Sayantan Das proved equal to Belarus’ GM Alexei Fedorov and Himal Gusain surprised Iran’s upcoming talent Aryan Gholami in a battle of International Masters.