Kumar Gaurav stuns Rahman on a day of upsets

In a day of upsets, fourth seeded Ziaur Rahman, the highest rated Grandmaster in the fray, was the biggest casualty and was defeated by National junior champion Kumar Gaurav in 66 moves.

National junior champion Kumar Gaurav (right) upstaged fourth seeded Bangladesh Grandmaster, Ziaur Rahman in the first round of the Commonwealth chess championship in New Delhi, on Monday.   -  Special Arrangement

Reputations of some of the illustrious names in the Commonwealth Chess Championship took a beating today, as the first round saw a few lesser-rated players punch far above their weight here on Monday.

Fourth seed Ziaur Rahman, the highest rated Grandmaster in the fray, was the biggest casualty after running into a resolute National junior champion Kumar Gaurav in 66 moves.

On a day that saw 52 winners, Rahman’s compatriot Enamul Hossain also lost. GM-elect M. S. Thejkumar, GM Sahaj Grover, former champion Pravin Thipsay and former Asian women champion Tania Sachdev could only manage to split the point against lower-rated rivals.

Rahman, playing white in an English Opening game, was on cruise-mode against Kumar Gaurav until he missed a tactical trick and had to give up a rook for a knight on the 34th move.

Thereafter, the youngster, who is rated a modest 2014 against Rahman’s
2547, played precisely. He wisely gave up his rook for a ‘queening’ pawn and then came out stronger in an end-game where he had two pawns against Rahman’s bishop.

Seventh seed Thej Kumar faced unexpected resistance from women’s National premier player P. Bala Kannamma and eventually escaped with a draw. After 78 moves, Thej heaved a sigh of relief as he successfully thwarted Kannamma’s bishop and two pawns with his lone bishop.

Sahaj, seeded eight, was the highest rated Grandmaster to be held. Paired against Naitik Mehta who is rated more than 300 points below, Sahaj was up a pawn before deciding to trade his knight for two more pawns. But in the end, Mehta came up with a resolute defence to walk away with a well-deserved draw in 40 moves.

Important first-round results (Indian unless stated):

Open: Divya Deshmukh lost to Abhijeet Gupta; Ziaur Rahman (Ban) lost to Gaurav Kumar; Abhijit Kunte bt Rani Hamid (Ban), P. Bala Kannamma drew with M. S. Thej Kumar; Sahaj Grover drew with Naitik Mehta; Rohit Vassan bt Enamul Hossain (Ban); Pravin Thipsay drew with Manish Anto Cristiano; Saksham Rautela drew with Tania Sachdev.