Khanty Mansiysk (Russia): India`s best bet, Grandmaster P Harikrishna capitalised on an optical blunder to get the better of Maxim Rodshtein of Israel in the first game of the first round of World Chess Cup.

With the victory coming with black pieces, Harikrishna is now just a draw away from making it to the last 64-stage of this 128 players knockout tournament, which is also a part of the next World Championship cycle.

Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi swiftly moved to the second round as his opponent Vladimir Akopian of Armenia gave an expected walkover. The Armenian had injured his leg a few days back and was advised rest by his doctor.

While Parimarjan made it to the next round and Harikrishna within striking distance, former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta missed out on some chances to let Azerbaijan`s Rauf Mamedov off the hook.

The game was eventually drawn and Abhijeet will now have to play with black pieces in the return game.

Reigning Asian champion Harikrishna equalised with black pieces rather comfortably in a Catalan opening employed by Rodshtein.

The Indian was never in any problem as the pieces changed hands at regular intervals and Rodshtein fell under serious time pressure as the game progressed.

It was in the end a one-move piece blunder that sealed the fate in favour of Harikrishna as Rodshtein missed a simple trick.

Gupta caught Mamedov according to his pre-game plan but used a lot of time in the middle game. The Indian was in fact spoilt for choices in the middle game and went for the wrong effectively leading to many difficulties.

Post the first time control it looked as though Mamedov had the upper hand but precise play by the Indian forced the draw vide repetition of moves.

In a big upset, Alexander Fier of Brazil defeated much higher ranked Wang Yue of China. The Chinese fell prey to some finely crafted manoeuvres, leading to loss of material in the endgame.

At the top of the tables there were no surprises though as most of the top seeds recorded victories.

The top three from the World Cup will make it to the next World Championship cycle.

The total prize fund of the event is USD 1.6 million with the first round loser getting 6000 USD. However there is a 20 per cent deduction from this amount that goes to FIDE as tax.

(Agencies)