Grandmasters and International Masters had a mixed day with some of them being stretched more than expected by far lesser-rated first-round rivals. Overall, a few surprises were thrown in as the Delhi International Open Grandmasters chess tournament got off on a chilly afternoon here on Thursday.

After Iran’s Pouya Idani missed his flight from Tehran and brought down the number of Grandmasters to 37, not all of these could win as expected. The decision to adopt ‘accelerated pairings’ to the first three rounds also meant higher-ranked players faced higher rated players than what they would have played under normal pairings.

GM Harsha Bharathakoti was the only GM to lose. Local veteran G. B. Joshi benefited from Harsha poorly-calculated knight-sacrifice on the 30th move. Soon, Harsha realised he could not get sufficient compensation and resigned three moves later.

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S. Dhananjay, rated 2144, held seventh-seeded Uzbek GM Nodirbek Yakubboev, rated 2597, in 48 moves. In fact, it was Dhananjay who pressed for victory after advancing a protected-pawn to the sixth rank but Yakubboev defended accurately.

Chilean GM Rodrigo Vasquez Schroeder (2487) sensed that his rival Aashna Makhija (2068) was unwell and chose to offer a draw in a dominating position after 45 moves.

Former Commonwealth champion P. Karthikeyan was another GM who could only get a draw, after facing Sidhant Gaikwad.

Atul Dahale (2025) stunned Tajikstan’s IM Muhammad Husenkhojaev, rated 2420.