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Anand, Carlsen to headline first Grand Chess Tour in Asia

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Viswanathan Anand

Kolkata, Nov 7 : All eyes will be on Indian No. 1 Viswanathan Anand, who will look to seal his berth in the 2019 Grand Chess Tour Finals, but the star attraction will be world champion Magnus Carlsen when the Grand Chess Tour (GCT), which visits Asia for the first time, gets underway later this month here.

The world’s top 10 players will match wits during the rapid and blitz meet between November 22 and 26 in the penultimate leg of the GCT.

The iconic National Library will stage the mega event where Indian chess legend Anand will be facing Norwegian Carlsen for the first time in India since his 2013 World Championship defeat in Chennai.

“I haven’t had too many chances of playing in India. So I am very excited. This year, it’s a Grand Tour event so there is lot more at stake,” Anand said in a video message at the Trophy unveiling here on Thursday.

Anand, who finished a disappointing tied third in the Sinquefield Cup in August, needs 13 points from the remaining two legs to seal a spot in the GCT Finals which carries a prize purse of USD 350,000 and will be held in London from November 30 to December 10.

He is currently taking part in the Superbet Rapid & Blitz meet in Bucharest (November 6-10) before coming to Kolkata for the last round. Before the Bucharest round, he was placed in eighth position with 24 points.

Kolkata has been a happy hunting ground for Anand where he played his first GM tournament in 1986 and won the Tata Steel Blitz title last year in nail-biting fashion.

Carlsen, meanwhile, is leading the pack and is in a league of his own with one foot already in the GCT Finals which will be held during the London Chess Classic in England. Carlsen, who is not playing the Bucharest round, has 54.5 points with second-placed Ding Liren on 37.8 from four events.

“In about a month I will be in Kolkata playing in the Grand Chess Tour for the first time. I would love to meet Indian chess fans and give you a good show,” Carlsen said in a video taken when he was playing in the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss tournament at Isle of Man.

The Grand Chess Tour, inspired by chess legend Garry Kasparov, and launched in 2015, includes two classical and five rapid and blitz tournaments. The Kolkata leg will be the penultimate event of the eight-leg Tour which has expanded this time to four continents — Africa, Asia, Europe and America.

Eight of the top 15 Grandmasters in the world are participating in this tournament, including Carlsen and Anand. The other Grandmasters who will be seen in action in the meet are Ding Liren, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Levon Aronian, Anish Giri, Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura and wild cards Pentala Harikrishna and Vidit Gujrathi.

“Chess is seeing a resurgence and renewed interest in its country of origin. India is currently ranked 4th in the world based on the average rating of its top 10 players and has now more FIDE registered chess players than any other country in the world,” said Bharat Singh Chauhan, secretary, All India Chess Federation (AICF).

Commenting on the development, Jeet Banerjee, Director, Gameplan Sports Pvt Ltd said, “The 2019 edition will become the first GCT event ever to be held in Asia when the event commences in Kolkata from November 22.”

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Indore Test: Shami, Ishant combine to pick team hat-trick

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Indore Test Team India

Indore, Nov 14 : A day after skipper Virat Kohli rated his fast bowlers as the best in the world, Indian pacers led by Mohammed Shami grabbed a team hattrick just after tea when Ishant Sharma dismissed Liton Das, on Day 1 of the first Test on Thursday.

Mohammed Shami grabbed two wickets off the last two balls before tea to dash any Bangladesh hopes of a revival as they were left reeling at 140/7 at tea.

Just after the break, Ishant had Das caught at first slip by Kohli who took a sharp low catch to complete the team treble and underline their supreme dominance in fast bowling in the last couple of years.

It was fitting for Ishant to grab the hattrick wicket as he has been around for the longest time among his teammates and is the senior most member of the side.

In the post-lunch session, Kohli brought back Shami for a short spell before the break to try and get rid of Mushfiqur Rahim as the batsman was looking good for a half century.

In the fifth delivery of the 54th over, in-form Shami rattled Rahim’s stumps with a searing inswinger that pitched outside off and came back in sharply to bamboozle the batsman. Mushfiqur was gone for a well-made 43 off 105 balls, his innings laced with four fours and a six.

In the very next ball, Shami trapped new batsman Mehidy Hasan in front to go into the break on a hat-trick. Hasan thought of reviewing it, but after consultation with non-striker Liton Das (21 batting), he walked towards the dressing room.

On the eve of the match, Kohli had said: “Well, if you ask we are right at the top. I won’t even count ourselves among the top 3. These guys deserve it. When we started off, that was the conversation. When I took over as captain, I really wanted to see our fast bowlers dominate world cricket.

“Spin was never an issue, batting was never an issue. After Zak (Zaheer Khan) and all these stalwarts went away, we were thinking how can we get back to the top and have the ability and the firepower to pick up 20 wickets.

“Just see the way they have bowled. It’s their belief that stands out. Any kind of pitch, any kind of opposition. They believe they can get more out of any pitch than the opposition. That belief matters a lot.

“I couldn’t be more happy for them. The best thing is they are still not done yet. They are getting hungrier every time they go out. And they love bowling together. I think that’s their biggest strength. The trust, the camaraderie and the belief they have is pushing this team forward,” said the captain.

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Dhoni trades bat for tennis racquet in Ranchi

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New Delhi: Former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was recently spotted participating in a tennis tournament at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association complex in his hometown Ranchi.

The veteran wicketkeeper-batsman, who has taken a break from cricket after the ODI World Cup in July, was pictured during the tournament and the image has been doing the rounds on social media on Sunday.

The image was initially tweeted by a fan following which Dhoni’s Indian Premier League team Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have also tweeted the image.

“The King, at your service,” CSK captioned the image.

Dhoni’s future with the Indian team has been the subject of considerable speculation in the months since the World Cup. The 38-year-old had initially taken a two-month sabatical from cricket after India’s defeat to New Zealand in the semifinal of the tournament.

However, he has since extended that break and chief selector M.S.K. Prasad has said that the management will be looking to move on to younger talents in the run up to the 2020 World T20.

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India secure three more spots for Tokyo Paralympics

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Paralympics silver medallist Deepa Malik

Dubai, Nov 11 Top javelin thrower Sundar Singh Gurjar overcame a shoulder injury to claim the second gold for India with a season best performance at the ongoing World Para Athletics Championships.

In doing so, Sundar not only defended his London Worlds 2017 title but also became the only second Indian to have clinched two World Championships medal after Devendra Jhajharia’s gold and silver in the 2013 Lyon and 2015 Doha Championships.

Staying in the second place till his fifth attempt, Sundar on Sunday hurled the javelin to a distance of 61.22 metres in his sixth attempt, enough to jump to the top of the results table tumbling Sri Lanka’s Dinesh P. Herath Mudiyanselage who led throughout with his 60.59 metre throw in the first attempt.

It was in fact a double delight for India as Ajeet Singh managed 59.46 metres to settle for the bronze. Compatriot Rinku Rinku took the fourth place with a throw of 57.59 metres. Thus, India secured three more slots for Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Earlier, Sandeep Chaudhary and Sumit Antil had secured the quota for next year’s Paralympics Games by finishing at the top two spots in the Javelin F64 finals in the ongoing tournament.

India now have two golds, one silver and a bronze so far in the tournament.

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