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Kings get unlikely hero in winning Global Chess League

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Triveni Continental Kings emerged champions of the inaugural Global Chess League, triumphing over the upGrad Mumba Masters following a thrilling marathon finale, comprising two legs of the normal climax, a pair of tie-breakers and four Sudden Death play-offs between individual players. Not just the Kings won from the brink of exiting the tournament, the two unlikely heroes were Sara Khadem and Jonas Bjerre.

Led by Levon Aronian, one of the strongest grandmasters in the world and a replacement icon player on the eve of the tournament, the Kings showcased remarkable resilience to finish on an impressive six-match winning streak in winning the coveted title. Four wins to end the league stages saw Khadem winning three of her matches after coming in as a substitute for Nana Dzagnidze, who withdrew for health reasons.

 

After two rounds of rapid ending in a draw, and then another two rounds of blitz which also finished with draws, the champions were decided in a series of sudden-death blitz games where the decisive outcome came in the fourth game.

In a spectacular finish, Danish Grandmaster Jonas Bjerre, 19, helped Kings clinch victory after defeating Uzbek 17-year-old prodigy Javokhir Sindarov in a suspenseful game on the Prodigy category table.

Bjerre, who was one of the most inexperienced players in the tournament and lost most of his games, delivered the crucial victory to his team when it mattered. After suffering a series of four losses to Sindarov, in a drawn even endgame which the Uzbek player decided to force, Bjerre got the upper hand and won.

The clash of prodigies Jonas Bjerre, right, and Javokhir Sindarov proved to be the decider for a tight GCL final. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Levon Aronian are icon players for Masters and Kings respectively. Courtesy GCL

“The last game was incredibly tense. It was really exciting. I’m still shivering”, said Bjerre whose journey in this tournament can be described as going from zero to hero. “Levon (team captain) told me – just fight, take it one game at a time,” Bjerre added. The Dane helped his team secure the final and the $500,000 prize purse. The overall fund for the tournament was a stunning one million.

Hailing the win for the Kings, Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra Group, said: “You know Triveni had two pullouts and I thought to myself, ‘why does lightning have to strike twice? But they have made the Kings more powerful with the addition of Aronian and Sara Khadem.”

The addition of Khadem proved to be the lucky charm the Kings needed as they went on a four-match winning streak in the final stages of the round-robin. It was a run that inspired other teams too, including the Masters, while prising out the early leaders SG Alpine Warriors with Magnus Carlsen and the Ganges Grandmasters with Vishwanathan Anand as icon players respectively. “People were getting wistful, but the beauty of this league is that it proved having a genius in the team is no guarantee of the result,” Mahindra said.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Levon Aronian are icon players for Masters and Kings respectively. Courtesy GCL

Sudden Death

As fate would have it, the first board selected was number five; it was a duel between Khadem and India’s Harika Dronavalli. Both players traded advantage but the game ended in a draw. Next up was former world blitz champion Alexander Grischuk against one of the world’s strongest players, Yu Yangyi, of the Kings.

The latter managed to create a 2:1 pawn advantage in a gripping endgame. However, Grischuk managed to hold on and stave an upset. Then came his wife in the rival camp, three-time world blitz champion Kateryna Lagno and India’s strongest woman Grandmaster, Koneru Humpy. This time, Humpy had the advantage bit erred in the time scramble and let off Lagno with a draw.

When the chess prodigies were drawn, Masters’ hopes of victory went high as Javokhir Sindarov had won all four games against Bjerre. In an even endgame, Sindarov decided to decline a draw and push. In the crucial moments it backfired and Bjerre ended with the upper hand and won. As Sindarov looked in disbelief, the arena erupted with applause.

 

King of the series – Praggnanandhaa R (SG Alphine Warriors)

Queen of the series – Tan Zhongyi (Balan Alaskan Knights)

 

King of the finals – Jonas Bjerre (Triveni Continental Kings)

Queen of the finals – Kateryna Lagno (Triveni Continental Kings)

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Emirates Dubai 7s set for 2024 edition – ARN News Centre

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Mark your calendars! The Emirates Dubai 7s, the three-day sports and entertainment festival, is set to return to the UAE on Friday, November 29, at The Sevens Stadium.

After record-breaking ticket sales, with over 560 teams comprising of over 6,000 players participating across five different sports tournaments on offer in 2023, fans and visitors can look forward to yet another exciting weekend of music alongside the rugby action on Pitch 1 and 2.

The 2024 edition will host an entertaining line-up of international artists and DJs, with a headline act on Saturday, November 30, as well as Sunday, December 1, this year, with extended music line-ups across all three days.

Dubai 7s will also deliver an amplified experience with additional entertainment stands and activations for children and young adults.

Participation in sports – Rugby, Netball, Cricket – is also growing at the festival, with the addition of a fitness competition, WODON3, for fitness elites as well as novice athletes looking to push their limits, and Rebound (Padel), with registration open at April 1 at 12:00 pm.

Organisers have announced that general admission and hospitality tickets and packages will go on sale later this year, with more details soon to be released online

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Andy Murray off to winning start in Dubai – ARN News Centre

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Monday, 26 February 2024 19:30

By ARN News Staff

www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com

Andy Murray came back from a set down to defeat Denis Shapovalov in round one of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The former world number one won 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 to register just his second victory in 2024.

Murray will face either fellow veteran Gael Monfils or French fifth seed Ugo Humbert in the next round.

Elsewhere, Botic van de Zandschulp caused the first upset of the tournament with a hard fought 7-6 7-5 victory over 6th seed Adrian Mannarino.

Meanwhile, American Sebastian Korda dropped just two games en route to a 6-0, 6-2 win over Pavel Kotov, and 7th seed Alexander Bublik overcame qualifer Tomas Machac 2-6, 6-3, 7-6.



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India pull off nervy chase to clinch test series v England – ARN News Centre

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AFP

Shubman Gill and Dhruv Jurel pulled off a nervy chase as India beat England by five wickets in the fourth test on Monday to claim an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.

Chasing a modest 192 for victory, India cruised to 84 for no loss with openers Rohit Sharma (55) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (37) giving them a flying start.

The English spinners, led by Shoaib Bashir (3-79), then engineered a collapse that left India reeling at 120-5 on the penultimate day of the see-saw contest.

Gill (52) and Jurel (39) combined in an unbroken stand of 72 for the sixth wicket to inflict on England their first series defeat under captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum.

“It has been a very hard-fought series. To come on the right side after four tests feels really good,” home captain Rohit said afterwards.

“I am really proud. A lot of challenges have been thrown at us but we responded pretty well.”

Needing 152 runs on day four with all 10 wickets intact, Rohit and in-form opener Jaiswal looked at ease on a pitch where the odd ball kept low.

Rohit smacked James Anderson over mid-on for a six to signal his attacking intent and Jaiswal, the leading scorer of the series, hit off-spinner Bashir for back-to-back fours.

Joe Root broke the stand in his first over when Jaiswal tried to slice him and Anderson dived full length at short third man to grab the edge.

Rohit duly brought up his fifty but could not soldier on.

Hartley drew the opener out of the crease with a flighted delivery and Ben Foakes whipped off the bails to effect the stumping.

India slumped to 100-3 after Bashir dismissed Rajat Patidar for a duck.

The spinner turned the match on its head after the lunch break when he dismissed Ravindra Jadeja and Sarfaraz Khan with successive deliveries.

Gill and Jurel shored up India defying tremendous pressure. There was a 30-over stretch during which they could not hit a single boundary.

It was only when their victory was in sight that Gill smashed Bashir for two sixes in three balls.

Jurel, whose first innings 90 dragged India back into the contest, was adjudged player-of-the-match in his second test.

“I think it was a great test match,” England captain Stokes said.

“There were so many ebbs and flows, and I’ve got to give so much credit to our spinners Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir for how they performed not only today, but during the whole test match.”

The fifth and final test is scheduled for Dharamsala from March 7.



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