The 2017 Oceania Zonal tournament got underway in Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday.
The opening ceremony of the biennial event was officiated by New Zealand parliamentarian Jamie-Lee Ross and observed a minute of silence for Fijian chess prodigy Russell John Simpson Taloga who lost his life in a tragic swimming incident earlier this week.
Candidate Master Manoj Kumar started his campaign by quickly disposing of Stephen Murdoch of New Zealand in the first round.
Kumar lost to a tough second-round opponent in Australian FIDE Master (FM) Patrick Gong before bouncing back in round three by beating Tito Cabunagan from Palau.
The veteran is paired against FM Nicolas Croad of New Zealand in the fourth round.
19-year-old Zen Borg is playing in his first Oceania Zonal event and got off to a rocky start losing to Leo Zhang of New Zealand in the first round.
Borg had a better pairing in round two and easily beat Kimberly Yuan of New Zealand before going down to Tom Crossman of Australia in the third round.
The USP student is paired against William Jiewen Zhang of New Zealand in the fourth round and is expected to notch his second win of the tournament.
Deenbandhoo student Rudr Prasad lost his first two games to Jack James and Cameron Yuen before getting on the scoreboard in the third round by drawing with Viney Kumar of New Zealand.
Prasad is paired against Leo Xiang Yu Li of New Zealand in the fourth round and should do very well against his same rated opponent.
9-year-old Tanvi Prasad had a rocky student in the Women’s division losing to Vivian Smith, Fiona Shen and Krystal Lal in her first three games.
The winners in the Open and Women’s divisions will qualify for the Chess World Cup 2017, a 128-player tournament in Tbilisi, Georgia, from 1 to 25 September 2017.
The Oceania Zonal is a 9-round Swiss event and will finish on January 20.