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Titans and Masters fight back on Day 6 in Global Chess League



Ganges Grandmasters’ Hou Yifan, left, was held to a draw by Alexandra Kosteniuk of Chingari Gulf Titans at Le Meridien, Dubai. Courtesy GCL

Chingari Gulf Titans bounced back in timely fashion by upsetting the applecart of Ganges Grandmasters in the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League on Tuesday.

On Day 6 of the tournament, the Titans started in fifth position as they took on the leaders and came out 9-7 winners. Also coming up with an improved performance were the upGrad Mumba Masters who moved up a spot on the table after beating Triveni Continental Kings in the last match of the day. Titans, who briefly occupied third place, moved down to make way for the Masters.

In the previous match, the Ganges Grandmasters had played as white and emerged victorious 10:4 after winning the coin toss. This time, it was their turn to play with the black pieces.

The first break for the Titans came on board five: Polina Shuvalova created a better position against Bella Khotenashvilli. In a complicated position, Khotenashvilli made an error in time trouble and handed over the game to Shuvalova and, eventually, lost on time. Soon afterwards two top world heavyweights Richard Rapport and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov decided to draw.

In a chaotic game between Daniil Dubov and Leinier Dominguez, where both sides exchanged advantages, Dubov emerged victorious after time trouble, securing four critical points for the Titans. Nihal Sarin drew with Andrey Esipenko despite having the upper hand for the greater part of the game.

Vishy Anand of Ganges gave his team a respite when he beat icon player and board one Jan-Kryzsztof Duda, but that wasn’t enough for a victory. Despite her efforts, former world champion Hou Yifan of Ganges was not successful in defeating Alexandra Kosteniuk. The game ended with a draw.

— Tech Mahindra Global Chess League (@GCLlive) June 27, 2023

upGrad Mumba Masters vs Triveni Continental Kings 

In their previous encounter with the Kings, the Mumba Masters emerged victorious while playing with the black pieces. This time, they played as White. Despite starting the league with a win, the Mumba Masters have faced a challenging journey so far – currently standing on 50%, with two victories, two losses, and one draw.

On the other hand, the Kings are having a treacherous run ever since the jinxed start when Levon Aronian had to step in for current world champion Ding Liren as the icon player. Although composed of exceptional players and guided by the well-known GM Loek van Wely, the team has experienced setbacks.

Early morning on Tuesday, it was revealed that Nana Dzagnidze had withdrawn from the tournament due to personal health reasons and would not be returning for the rest of tournament. Stepping in to fill her shoes is another formidable player, Sara Khadem—one of the world’s top female players.

Both sides were evenly matched for most part of the contest. The only one to gain more initiative from the outset was Masters’ Harika Dronavalli who was slightly better than Sara Khadem.

As the players were nearing time trouble, things on the boards began to change quickly. Mumba’s Javokhir Sindarov opted for a pawn advance on the kingside which proved to be ill-prepared. His opponent – another prodigy – Jonas Buhl Bjerre leapt at the opportunity and soon got into a very strong position. As they were having less time on their clocks, both players started to err, exchanging advantages with one another and keeping the game open until the end.

By the time Koneru Humpy agreed on a draw with Kateryna Lagno, her compatriot and colleague Harika Dronavalli (Fide standard rating 2510) was completely winning against Khadem (Fide rating 2488). In the meantime, team Mumba got another strong pin – as Alexander Grischuk was winning against Triveni’s Yu Yangyi. However, Triveni’s Yu Yangyi is a great defender and as he was better on time, he soon managed to unsettle Grischuk as the famed Russian player threw away his advantage.

Team leaders Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Levon Aronian settled for a draw as tensions mount. Shortly after, Vidit Gurjathi and Wei Yi also agreed to a draw, bringing a sense of calm to the match. Grischuk lost momentum and had to accept a draw against Grandmaster Yu.

The fate of the match hinged on the final two boards: Dronavalli defeated Khadem. In an unfortunate turn for the Kings, Jonas Bjerre misplayed his position, allowing Sindarov to seize the advantage and secure a win. Kings are now at the bottom of the table.


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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