Tata Steel Chess: Gukesh outsmarts Praggnanandhaa
In a much-awaited clash involving two Chennai boys, D. Gukesh outwitted R. Praggnanandhaa in 40 moves in the 10th round of the Masters’ section of the Tata Steel chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee, near Amsterdam, on Wednesday.
In another game of Indian interest, Arjun Erigaisi’s search for his first victory continued after he drew with Fabiano Caruana.
Overnight leader Nodirbek Abdusattorov stayed in the lead after escaping with a draw against Ding Liren. Magnus Carlsen moved to joint third place - one point behind Abdusattorov - after beating Parham Maghsoodloo. Three rounds remain.
The Gukesh-Praggnanandhaa game saw a wild swing of fortunes on the 16th move. Gukesh could have gotten into serious trouble after his rook move, but Praggnanandhaa’s response of moving the queen shifted all the advantage to his younger opponent.
Gukesh read the position better, established an extra bishop on the board and tightened the noose to weave a checkmating net around Praggnanandhaa’s king. Praggnanandhaa saw the futility of continuing in a hopeless position and resigned immediately.
In the Challengers section, both B. Adhiban and R. Vaishali were involved in drawn encounters.
ITF junior: Jaishnav Shinde storms into semifinals in Indore
Jaishnav Shinde beat third seed Jaden Tan of Indonesia 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the ITF junior tennis tournament at the Indore Tennis Club on Thursday.
In the semifinals, Jaishnav will challenge top seed Hitesh Chauhan.
The other semifinal will be between Tejas Ahuja and Cahir Warik.
In the girls section, Sonal Patil, Harithashree Venkatesh, Sohini Mohanty and Rishitha Basireddy made the semifinals.
ITF women’s tournament: Ankita Raina beats Karman Kaur Thandi in quarterfinals
Ankita Raina edged out Karman Kaur Thandi 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(4) in the quarterfinals of the NECC $40,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament at the Deccan Gymkhana on Thursday.
In a cracker of a contest that spanned three hours and 25 minutes, Karman fought back from being down 3-5 in the decider to take it to the tie-break, saving a match point along the way.
However, the 30-year-old Ankita had the reserves of energy to pull through. It was a more courageous performance by Ankita as she had to save two match points from being down 4-6, 3-5 to turn the match on its head.
In their previous encounters, Ankita had lost to Karman in three sets each in 2018 and 2019, after beating her in straight sets in 2017.
In the semifinals, Ankita will challenge the Wimbledon semifinalist Tatjana Maria of Germany. Valeria Savinykh beat the champion of the last tournament in Bhopal, Anastasia Tikhonova, to set up the other semifinal against second seed Nigina Abduraimova of Uzbekistan.
AITA women’s tournament: Sachi Sharma and Himaanshika Singh in final
Sachi Sharma fought past Kavya Khirwar 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-4 to set up a title clash with top seed Himaanshika Singh in the Rs.100,000 AITA women’s tennis tournament at the Joygaon Academy on Thursday.
Elite Asia-Pacific under-14: Arnav Paparkar makes final in Melbourne
Arnav Paparkar outplayed Zachariah Wu of New Zealand 6-1, 6-0 to make the final of the Elite Asia-Pacific under-14 tennis tournament in Melbourne on Thursday.
Earlier, Arnav had won all his three league matches to top the group.
Maaya Rajeshwaran, however, managed to win one of three matches in the league. She will be competing for the fifth to eighth places.
In a special exercise, the organisers of Australian Open had called the best under-14 players, one boy and one girl, from Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, India, Japan, French Polynesia, New Zealand apart from Australia for the event.
ITF men, Kuwait: Prajnesh Gunneswaran in quarterfinals
Fourth seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran beat Dax Donders of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals of the $25,000 ITF tennis tournament in Al Zahra, Kuwait, on Thursday.
Shubhankar to start a day late as rain plays havoc
Dubai, Jan 26 (PTI) Shubhankar Sharma was unable to get a hit on the opening day of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic as heavy overnight rain forced a delay at the Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club.
Sharma will now come out to play his first round early on Friday and will have a long day as he will then be required to start the second round, too, late in the afternoon.
Sharma plays his first and second rounds with Jordan Smith and Thorbjorn Olesen.
Thomas Pieters, who missed the cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships where he was defending the title, looked to make amends as he was 5-under through 15 holes when darkness stopped play.
Two-time champion here, Rory McIlroy was one-under through 15 holes and sitting on a four-foot putt for birdie on the seventh, his 16th hole of the day.
With less than five hours available on Thursday on account of a six-hour five-minute delay, there was a scramble to finish the round by some of the earliest groups to tee off.
Only two groups from either side were able to finish, with three players, Matthew Jordan, Daniel Gavins and Oliver Wilson -- all from England -- carding 4-under 68 each.
Thomas Bjorn, the former Ryder Cup captain, finished 2-under in fading light, as did fellow Dane, Oliver Hunderball, who came in for Richie Ramsay, a late withdrawal.
McIlroy opened his round with a birdie on the 10th, missed the green on the 12th and ended with a bogey and then again missed the green on Par-3 15th and failed to hole a 9-foot putt for a second bogey.
He did well to birdie the 18th after getting on to greenside bunker with his second shot and then putted from nine feet to get to even par. A good chip-putt from 35-odd yards saw him get to red numbers.
He was 1-under through 15 holes and had a short birdie putt on his 16th hole, when play was stopped due to darkness. He will come back early to complete the round.
The morning start was delayed by over six hours on account of heavy overnight rain because of which the conditions at the Emirates Golf Club were rather difficult, with standing water at various places, including the first fairway.
There was also some damage to the bunkers. There was also a thunderstorm in the early hours of Thursday and then there were some light showers while play was on.
Play finally got underway at 1.15pm after the ground staff put in an amazing amount of effort to make the course playable.
India U-17 men’s team to play friendly matches in Qatar
The India U-17 men’s national football team will play two friendly matches against its Qatar counterparts on February 23 and 26 as part of its preparations for the AFC U-17 Asian Cup.
Coached by Bibiano Fernandes, the U-17 boys qualified for the AFC U-17 Asian Cup last year.
The team is currently training in Goa. In addition to the players that were with the team during the AFC U-17 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Saudi Arabia, the team management has also called up several other potential players to the camp.
The India U-17 team played two friendly matches against the Uzbekistan U-17 team in Vasco da Gama, Goa on January 22 and 24.
Bibiano’s boys won the first match 2-0 before losing the second 0-3.