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GCL: Ganges Grandmasters in full flow after Day 3



India's Praggananandha helped Alpine Warriors beat Triveni Continental Kings. GCL

Ganges Grandmasters (GG) maintain their dominance at the end of the third day of the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League at Le Meridien opposite Dubai airport on Saturday. GG are the only team in the Global Chess League to have three victories out of all three matches.

With 9 match points out of three matches, Ganges Grandmasters have a significant lead. They are chased by Triveni Continental Kings, who are on six match points and have the same number of game points as GG (32) but have played four matches. SG Alpine Warriors are also on six match points but have 23 game points.

upGrad Mumba Masters have four match points, Balan Alaskan Knights have three but they are the second team in the Global Chess League to have played four matches.

Chingari Gulf Titans have a tough challenge ahead. They are at the bottom of the board, with just one match point, having failed to win any of the matches.

Ganges Grandmasters not only had the leaders’ advantage, the coin flip went their way and they started with white. The match began with an intriguing prelude as Henrik Carlsen, the father of Magnus Carlsen, appeared at the toss ceremony, even to the son’s surprise.

Board one witnessed a swift draw between Vishwanathan Anand and Ian Nepomniachtchi, where the leader of the Balan Alaskan Knights made 30 moves without even spending a minute. Simultaneously, things were firing up on board six between two prodigies: GG’s Andrey Esipenko took the initiative early on against Raunak Sadhwani and won. Soon, the Knights found themselves in trouble as they were losing on more boards.

The only string of hope for them was in the Chinese matchup on board four. In a game between two former women’s world champions, Grandmasters’ Hou Yifan was losing badly to Tan Zhongyi playing as black. However, at the same time, Ganges’ Leinier Dominguez Perez and Richard Rapport had a significant advantage in their games. While Perez converted his into a victory, Rapport blundered his winning advantage in time trouble, allowing his opponent Abdusattorov to escape with a draw.

Despite an impressive rook sacrifice, Knights’ Bella Khotenashvili lost to her Georgian compatriot Nino Batsiashvili, and Grandmasters secured a 11-6 win.

SG Alpine Warriors edge Triveni Continental Kings

This was a duel between two teams in the middle of the scoreboard looking to make a push to the top. Following the first two rounds, both had three match points each and 15 game points. The coin toss dropped in Kings’ favour.

The most anticipated encounter took place on board one with a faceoff between two icon players, world heavyweight Levon Aronian (as white) and the highest-rated chess player, Carlsen. Both sides put up a fierce fight and Carlsen ended up defending an uncomfortable position with a minute on his clock against Aronian’s eight. Aronian tried but Magnus, the best endgame player in the world, was confident and held his opponent to a draw.

When two other games ended in a draw the score was 3:3. The first break came when GM Yu defeated Gukesh with white, scoring important three points for the Kings. The tables turned on the Kings when Indian Praggnanandhaa beat Jonas Bjerre scoring four points with black.

Everything was hanging on the game between Irina Krush of Warriors and Kateryna Lagno. Despite Krush creating a dominating position, both sides were in serious time trouble. The fact that Lagno is a three-time world champion in blitz came in handy as she managed to keep her nerve and get a draw.

Warriors’ 8-7 win gave them three crucial match points. Carlsen acknowledged that teams so far are seeing white as a advantage even though “wins with black are so valuable. People are still trying to find the optimal strategy here and we’re seeing some interesting decisions that you don’t see in team chess.”

In the other games, the clash between Chingari Gulf Titans and upGrad Mumba Masters proved to be a humdinger but ended up in a 6-6 draw, the first game of the tournament where all players were in a stalemate. Kings came out 10-8 winners against the Knights for their first win in four matches.

For upGrad Mumba Masters, Koneru Humpy had an excellent chance to force a win with white against Nino Batsiashvili, but she missed out on the opportunity. Though the endgame was a stalemate, their clash extended for a marathon 117-moves, as Humpy kept chasing aggressively for her rival to blink, in vain. Humpy said she realised her mistake but failed to attribute it to team pressure.
“I was focusing on my game only. By the time I realised that others had drawn, I know I had lost the advantage in my game but there was nothing to lose in trying for the team,” Humpy said.


League Cup trophy part of final chapter with Liverpool, says Klopp – ARN News Centre



AFP / Paul Ellis

Winning the League Cup would be a crucial addition to the final segment of a memoir with Liverpool, the soon-to-depart manager Juergen Klopp said before his side’s final match against Chelsea.

Klopp has announced his decision to step down as Liverpool manager at the end of the season, citing dwindling energy levels.

The 56-year-old, who is the only Liverpool manager to win six different major trophies, would dedicate the victory to everyone connected to the Merseyside club as part of his trophy-laden nine-year epoch.

“I want to win on Sunday, but not for me or my trophy cabinet,” Klopp said of the League Cup final. “It is for the boys, for the club, for the people. That is much more important.

“We wrote, and we are still writing a wonderful book, and when I leave, we close that book and put it on the shelf and then someone else will write a wonderful book.

“Yes, there is space for some chapters. It is long. I am not there and writing the resume already? Not at all. I am 100% in trying to create a few special memories on top of what we have done.”

Klopp’s side has a lengthy injury list that could hinder their chances of securing a record-extending 10th League Cup triumph at Wembley, with the likes of Diogo Jota, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson, and Curtis Jones sidelined and forwards Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai doubtful for Sunday.

Liverpool’s most recent triumph came in the 2021-22 campaign when they also lifted the FA Cup and narrowly missed securing a treble as they finished second in the Premier League.

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Last-gasp Casemiro goal sets up United for Liverpool clash – ARN News Centre




Brazilian Casemiro struck late to send Manchester United into the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest as teenagers Jayden Danns and Lewis Koumas inspired Liverpool to a 3-0 win over Southampton on Wednesday.

Chelsea overcame second-tier Leeds United 3-2 thanks to Conor Gallagher’s 90th-minute winner, easing the pressure on coach Mauricio Pochettino, and Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 thanks to Mario Lemina’s early goal.

United kept alive their last hope of lifting a trophy in a difficult season for the 12-times FA Cup winners when the 32-year-old Casemiro headed in a low bouncing free kick from Bruno Fernandes from close range, setting up an enticing quarter-final meeting with Liverpool.

United manager Erik Ten Hag and his team held their breath through a lengthy VAR check for offside before the goal was confirmed to the delight of the United fans at the City Ground.

Three days after Liverpool’s young side beat Chelsea 1-0 to win the League Cup final, Danns struck twice with his first goals for the senior side and Koumas scored on his first-team debut.

Koumas, the 18-year-old son of former Wales international Jason Koumas, scored just before halftime, receiving a superb pass from Bobby Clark before shooting into the bottom corner via a deflection off Jack Stephens.

Danns, also 18, netted his first in the 73rd minute when he dinked the ball over keeper Joe Lumley, and scored again 15 minutes later after pouncing on a loose ball.

With injuries to key players including Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp fielded a young team against Southampton — 23 spots below them in England’s football pyramid.

For Chelsea, struggling in mid-table in the league, the FA Cup is their last realistic chance of silverware.

The Premier League side were shocked in the eighth minute when Leeds took the lead after a defensive mix-up playing out from a goal kick allowed Mateo Joseph to score his first senior goal.

Chelsea replied with two goals from flowing moves in the 15th and 37th minutes and fine finishes by Senegal’s Nicolas Jackson and Ukrainian Mykhailo Mudryk.

Leeds upped the intensity in the second half and were rewarded in the 59th minute as a free header from the unmarked Joseph flew past Chelsea keeper Robert Sanchez.

Pochettino brought on Gallagher and Ben Chilwell as well as top scorer Cole Palmer in the second half and the move paid off. With extra time looming, Gallagher latched on to a pass from Argentine midfielder Enzo Fernandez before shooting home to take Chelsea into the last eight.

Pochettino called the win a “big relief”.

Liverpool travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United over the weekend of March 16, champions Manchester City host Newcastle United, Chelsea play Leicester City and Wolves take on Coventry City.

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Medvedev edges past Sonego to book Dubai quarter-final spot – ARN News Centre




Reigning champion Daniil Medvedev avoided an early scare to overcome a spirited performance by Lorenzo Sonego and secure a spot in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.

The World No. 4 looked shaky during the opening exchanges, winning just 53 per cent (10/19) of points behind his first delivery as counterpart Sonego took full advantage and deservedly won the first set.

Medvedev, to his credit, recovered quickly and served with far more aggression in the second and third sets, firing off both wings and hitting pinpoint

The decisive moment came during a tense fifth game in the final set as the No. 1 seed broke Sonego’s serve with a running forehand winner and safely saw out the match thereafter.

Medvedev will face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina after Qatar Open finalist Jakub Mensik was forced to retire through injury early in the second set of their clash.

Hubert Hurkacz will join Medvedev in the last eight after a battling 7-6, 6-4 victory over Australian Christopher O’Connell. The World No. 8 will make his fourth quarter-final appearance in Dubai when he takes to the court to face Ugo Humbert, the French No. 1, on Thursday evening.

One man who will not be competing in the quarterfinals is Karan Khachanov after the No. 4 seed was sent crashing out of the tournament following Jiri Lehecka’s stunning comeback victory (6-7, 7-6, 6-4).

Lehecka, the World’s No36, knelt to the floor in elation after securing a spot in the last eight at the expense of in-form Khachanov, who had come into the match on the back of five straight wins.

The 27-year-old won his sixth-career title in Doha last week and looked on course to continue that momentum after clinching the first set against Lehecka.

Lehecka had other ideas, though, saving five points during a tense second set, coming back from 0-3 in the tiebreak that later followed and from 2-4 in the third decisive set to secure a second top-20 win of the season after a mammoth three-hour clash on Court One.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Korda continues to enjoy his maiden Dubai tournament, needing just 43 minutes to breeze past Botic van de Zandschulp and set up a quarter-final meeting against 2022 winner Andrey Rublev.

Korda, the first son to follow in his father’s footsteps in featuring in the premier tennis tournament of the Middle East, dropped just one game in an emphatic straight sets victory (6-1, 6-0) over the Dutch No. 2.

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