GRANDMASTERS barely flexed their muscles as overawed and unranked challengers succumbed easily on the opening day of the Arcapita International Chess Championship which began at the Alumni Club yesterday.
One of the first players to seal victory was top seed GM Pavel Tregubov of Russia who took less than an hour to launch his campaign. Other GMs like Amin Basem of Egypt, Yannick Pelletier of Switzerland, Anton Filippov of Uzbekistan and Valentin Iotov of Bulgaria too came out unscathed without much ado.
The Indian brigade led by IM Sriram Jha also cleared the first hurdle without any hiccups.
“It was a routine game and I won easily in the end,” said Jha who is here for his second tournament after having finished third in the 2007 event held on the island.
“This tournament is much tougher with 14 GMs and so many IMs. My aim here is to go for a GM-norm and I’m confident of achieving it,” said the New Delhi resident who already has one GM-norm and needs two more to join the growing list of Grandmasters from India.
Among the local players, Dalal Al Ghasra, leading a few women players in this tournament, offered a spirited but clearly inadequate challenge against Egyptian GM Essam El Gindy while a young Khalil Bu Khalaf took on the Ukraine GM Mikhail Golubev with a lot of enthusiasm.
But Dalal got into severe time trouble and eventually ran of steam and skill and a relieved El Gindy rushed to the dinning hall straight away. Khalil also delayed Golubev’s normal dinner time before giving up.
“The lad has some skill,” said Golubev who at 38 is quite abundantly built and looks at least twice the size and age of his young opponent.
Golubev also rated this tounrament very highly and particularly the top seed Tregubov. “I played against him along with Karpov, Korchnoi and Gelfand in the Pivdenny Chess Cup back home. It was a very interesting tournament and Tregubov won it on tie breaker,” recalled Golubev.
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