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Kings and Masters surprise finalists of Global Chess League

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Another dramatic day in the final round of the round-robin matches of the Global Chess League saw surprise names emerge as the last teams standing for the grand finale. Triveni Continental Kings and upGrad Mumba Masters will now face off in the summit clash over two legs on Sunday at Le Meridien hotel, Dubai.

With a four-streak winning run in as many matches, including a dominating victory over tournament favourites Ganges Grandmasters, Kings became the first to qualify. SG Alpine Warriors, who were joint favourites with GG, had two matches to get it right; the same as Chingari Gulf Titans. Placed fourth, the Titans narrowly edged out the Warriors 8-7 in the first result of the day that put Mumba Masters in a better position mentally.

The Warriors were their final opponents and their vulnerability, despite Carlsen winning his matches, gave them hope just as the Kings provided inspiration with their 11-6 win over GG. Fortune favoured the brave and though Carlsen drew with Ian Nepomniachtchi, the Masters ran out 18-2 winners for the biggest margin of the tournament.

The Titans then needed to beat bottom-table Balan Alaskan Knights where even one win would have been sufficient. But the infectious underdogs spirit took over the Knights as beat the Titans 12-4 with no camp happier than the Mumba Masters.

“We played like there is no tomorrow. We have not been up to the mark in the past few games, but the team spirit was good and it is what kept us going,” said Vidit Gujrathi of UMM.

Levon Aronian, the icon player for the Kings, was seen smiling from ear to ear. He acknowledged that the tournament is not over yet, but “there can be one little celebration tonight, and then hopefully we can have a bigger one tomorrow.”

His counterpart for the final, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave said: “My team fought well and generally for the most part of the two weeks. Both teams deserve to be in the final.”

 

SG Alpine Warriors vs upGrad Mumba Masters

The women players started the ball rolling for UMM. On board five, Harika Dronavalli dominated Elisabeth Paehtz and then treated a mate in three. On board four, Koneru Humpy was significantly better against Irina Krush and was the first one to win, scoring important four points with Black.

On the prodigy board, Mumba’s Javokhir Sindarov managed to stop Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu – the top-performing player in the league – and hold him to a draw. Carlsen drew with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, despite having a slight advantage. Just as Carlsen was getting up, Dronavalli’s result came through. The world’s top player could not hide his disappointment.

Realising his team’s lost situation, Gukesh resigned to Alexander Grischuk from a weaker position. The last game to finish was on board five where Gujrathi converted his advantage against Arjun Erigaisi.

Triveni Continental Kings vs Ganges Grandmasters

While a draw would have been enough for Grandmasters, Triveni had to win. In the Caro-Kann defence, Aronian gained more initiative and posed serious threats to Anand. Unfazed, the former world champion got his knight and rook to the bottom of the board and found a perpetual check to hold a draw.

Sara Khadem of Iran

However, Sara Kahdem scored a huge victory for Triveni as she defeated Bella Khotenashvili in a sharp game. By this point, Kings were dominating on three of the four remaining boards. Wei Yi struck on board three against Leinier Dominguez. Despite being in a weaker position, Kateryna Lagno managed to draw the game with Hou Yifan.

When Yu Yangyi lost against GG’s Richard Rapport, the Kings were 8-5 ahead and GG had to win on the prodigy board to take the win. However, Jonas Bjerre took the initiative and forced a winning rook endgame against Andrey Esipenko. Praising substitute replacement Khadem for the turn in fortunes, the leader Aronian said: “Sara really changed the atmosphere in the team – she helped team moral and here we are”, said Levon Aronian.

Chingari Gulf Titans vs Balan Alaskan Knights (4:12)

The Chingari Gulf Titans had destiny in their own hands and were playing with white pieces. Icon players Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Ian Nepomniachtchi finished in an even endgame. However, on board two Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had a huge advantage over the 2021 World Rapid Champion, Nodirbek Abdusattorov.

Boards five and six were more in favour of Chingari, but then the tables turned. In a completely dominating position, Mamedyarov made an error and ended up significantly weaker. He left the board in disgust shortly.

While Nihal Sarin and Raunak Sadhwani drew their game, Chingari’s Polina Shuvalova lost to BAK’s Nino Batsiashvili. Approaching the endgame, Shuvalova made a mistake and gave an exchange up to Black, finishing in a completely lost position. Under pressure, the Titans folded up without a fight.

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Root rescues England with controlled century in India – ARN News Centre

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AUSEEF MUSTAFA/ AFP

Joe Root rescued England with a century on the opening day of the fourth test against India on Friday, steering the tourists to a respectable 302-7 after Akash Deep took early wickets.

The right-hander responded to the backlash against England’s ‘Bazball’ approach after their drubbing by 434 runs in the third test, with an unbeaten 106 not out which brought England back into the game from a precarious 112-5 at lunch.

Root’s own dismissal in Rajkot — playing a reverse scoop against Jasprit Bumrah — was seen as symptomatic of what is wrong with England’s ultra-aggressive batting.

Ollie Robinson was also unbeaten after a useful cameo of 31, relieving the pressure on Ben Stokes, who was earlier left to rue his decision to bat as England lost the top half of their batting order in the frenetic first session.

The hosts’ 2-1 cushion in the five-match series allowed them to rest pace spearhead Bumrah, and Akash Deep became the fourth Indian to make his debut in the series.

The right-arm seamer impressed immediately, sending opener Zak Crawley’s off-stump cartwheeling in his second over but his celebrations were cut short when the no-ball siren went off.

The 27-year-old seamer soon got over that disappointment by striking twice in three balls.

Akash dismissed Ben Duckett caught behind for 11 with an angled delivery that prompted a tentative prod from the opener.

Akash waited for confirmation that he had not overstepped and beat his chest in celebration. Two balls later, Ollie Pope fell lbw for a duck.

Crawley went after Mohammed Siraj, hitting the bowler for three fours in a row and following that up with a huge six.

Enter Akash, who ended Crawley’s run-a-ball 42 by hitting the top of his off-stump.

“I was upset with the no-ball not because it was my first test wicket,” Akash told the broadcasters afterwards.

“I was worried it could cost us some runs as Crawley was going after us. I was relieved to get rid of him soon.”

Jonny Bairstow (38) has been unusually subdued in the series and he squandered another start by attempting a sweep shot against Ravichandran Ashwin only to be dismissed lbw.

Ravindra Jadeja dismissed Stokes lbw for three with the final delivery before the lunch break that stayed low.

With their top half back in the hut, England’s capitulation on a spiteful pitch appeared only a matter of time.

But former captain Root had other ideas and combined with Ben Foakes (47) in a century stand denying India any wicket in the second session.

Siraj returned to remove Foakes and Tom Hartley after the tea break, but Root could not be denied his 31st test hundred.

Root was lot more judicious in his shotmaking, hitting nine fours in a patient knock.

England said leg-spinner Rehan was returning home for personal reasons.



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Kalinskaya eliminates Gauff to set up semi-final with Swiatek – ARN News Centre

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Qualifier Anna Kalinskaya pulled off a stunning upset by defeating World No3 Coco Gauff in three sets to advance to the semifinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Kalinskaya’s comeback victory sets up a surprising semifinal clash with World No1 Iga Swiatek.

Despite facing a medical timeout and trailing in the first set, Kalinskaya showcased resilience to turn the match around, eventually winning 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. The victory marks her second Top-10 win of the week and first Top-5 win.

Meanwhile, Swiatek, fresh off her title win in Doha, continued her dominant run in the Middle East with a straight-set victory over Zheng. Swiatek’s win sets up a semifinal showdown against Kalinskaya.

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, continues with both women’s WTA 1000 and men’s ATP 500 events.

Tickets are available online.

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Ferrari set F1 testing pace after drain damage – ARN News Centre

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Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz set the pace on the second day of Formula One’s pre-season testing in Bahrain on Thursday after the team changed the car’s damaged floor following a loose drain cover incident.

The morning session was halted the first red flag of the year after the Spaniard’s team mate Charles Leclerc ran over the cover at turn 11.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton also went over it, with debris flying in the air.

Teams have only one car each on track over the three days of testing at Sakhir, with Leclerc and Sainz alternating, and Ferrari took the SF-24 back into the garage for repairs with the shutters down.

Sainz took over in the afternoon/evening session, which was brought forward an hour to make up for the time lost to track repairs, and lapped with a best time of one minute 29.921 seconds on the second softest C4 tyre.

“Another day of testing completed according to plan and without issues,” Sainz said.

“We managed to go through the whole afternoon programme smoothly, combining various tests with low and high fuel runs, so it was interesting to get a feel for this year’s car in different configurations.”

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was closest to him on the slower C3 tyre, 0.758 off the pace, with Hamilton third and McLaren’s Lando Norris fourth.

“We’ve clearly made an improvement with this year’s car and it’s much nicer to drive,” said seven-times world champion Hamilton, who completed 123 laps.

Leclerc had topped the earlier timesheets in 1:31.750 on the C3 tyre with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri 0.578 slower and Williams’ Logan Sargeant third and 0.828 off the pace.

The Ferrari driver returned in the afternoon to complete his programme before handing over to Sainz.

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