Albena (Bulgaria): Abhijeet Gupta misplayed a better position and was held to a draw by Pavel Janev of Bulgaria in the first round of rand Europe Albena Chess tournament. It turned out to be a rather sedate start for Abhijeet whose plans of entering wild complexities against much lower ranked Janev backfired. With a half point from the first game, the Indian will have some catching up to do in the remaining eight rounds.

The other Indians in the fray got off to a flier and topping the list was N Raghvi, who played out a spirited game to hold Ivajlo Enchev of Bulgaria. International Master Ashwin Jayaram and Grandmaster-in-waiting Vishnu Prasanna had an off from work as their opponents Antonina Dragasevic of Serbia and Oleksandr Fedotov of Ukraine failed to turn up for the first round. Waiting for confirmation of his Grandmaster title, Swapnil Dhopade dispatched the challenge of Lubomir Mishkovski of Bulgaria, while Anurag Mahamal and Sagar Shah got the better off Zheljazko Savov of Bulgaria and Ukrainian Mykola Lisnichuk respectively.

The first round is often a tough one for higher ranked players and the results here attested to the known adage again. Besides Abhijeet, Tigran Petrosian of Armenia, Levente Vajda of Romania and Tamir Nabaty of Israel were the other Grandmasters who conceded a half point. The shocker of the day was Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria lost to Melih Yurtseven.

Playing black, Abhijeet forced the Sozin variation in the Sicilian Classical and looked on top in the intricacies of the middle game. However, Janev kept looking for some counter play on the other assisted by a passed pawn on the sixth rank and by the time Abhijeet managed to gobble it, there was some counter attack already.

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