Just like the IPL,there was drama virtually till the last move on the opening day of the Maharashtra Chess League. With plenty of upsets in the very first round,the tournament got off to a rollicking start. The high profile team of Thane Combatants was edged out by Pune Attackers with a 2.5-3.5 margin. Each team is fielding six players with it being mandatory to field two women players and three Maharashtra players in each team.
Jalgaon Battlers were the most impressive team on display as they routed Mumbai Movers with a 5-1 margin,the highest in this round. The Jalgaon Battlers now lead the six-team league with five points with Nagpur Royals,who scored an impressive 4-2 victory against Ahmednagar Checkers,following one point behind.
The stars for the Jalgaon Battlers were International Masters (IM) Narayanan Srinath and S Narayanan as they shocked two Grandmasters Arun Prasad and R R Laxman,respectively,while Eesha Karavade scored the third victory for the team against Shashikant Kutwal. The other three encounters ended in draws with IM Anup Deshmukh holding Grandmaster Vidit Gujrati on the top board.
The highest ranked player in the fray GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly had an easy time against Padmini Rout but Pune Attackers played rousing chess with Akshayraj Kore defeating his young city mate Abhimanyu Puranik and Lalith Babu beating Prathamesh Mokal. Himanshu Sharma playing on the top board for Pune Attackers defeated National Womens Champion Mary Ann Gomes. IM Vijayalakshmi S was held to a draw by Amardeep Bartakke.
For the Nagpur Royals,Tejas Bakre once again demonstrated why Pune is his favourite venue as he defeated GM G N Gopal to set the wining tune for his team. However,what caught the spectators attention was an interesting tussle between two former National women champions Soumya Swaminathan and Tania Sachdev,resulting in a victory for the former.
The format ensures that there is plenty of thrill and excitement as the board order is released just an hour before the games and there is suspense as to on which boards the GMs and other players would be playing.