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World Youth Chess Championship: Praggnanandhaa wins Gold

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Mumbai, Oct 12 India’s R Praggnanandhaa emerged as the unconquered king in the World Youth Chess Championship, claiming the coveted gold in the Under-18 Open here on Saturday.

The 14-year-old Grand Master from Chennai etched out a cautious draw in the 11th and final round against Valentin Buckels (Germany) to top the charts with 9 points. He, however, will have to thank compatriot IM Arjun Kalyan for engineering a crucial draw against top seeded Shant Sargsyan (Armenia).

Praggnanandhaa would have been under pressure if Grand Master Shant had won; but Shant couldn’t unravel a determined Arjun, allowing Praggnanandhaa to call truce and annex the title.

The Championship ended on a high note for India, with six other medals, including three silver, coming their way. Only the Under-16 Girls proved elusive for India, although BM Akshaya gave a good account of herself. Akshaya lost the medal to Anousha Mahdian, after suffering an unexpected defeat to her in the final round.

The country’s Under-14 Girls were the toast of the day, with Divya Deshmukh and Rakshitta Ravi bringing home two medals. Top seed WIM Divya, who seemed to be out of contention midway through the event, pulled off a well thought out victory in the last round to clinch the silver.

Rakshitta too beat overnight leader Bat-Erdene Mungunzul on the top board to earn the bronze. Kazakhstan’s Meruert Kamalidenova, however, was the star of this category, reeling off five straight wins to clinch the gold medal.

FM LR Srihari (Under-14 Open) and Vantika Agrawal (Under-16 Girls) collected the country’s other two silver medals, playing out draws in their respective matches. Vantika had an outside chance of pocketing the gold, especially after top seed Polina Shuvalova (8.5) settled for a draw; Vantika (8), however, couldn’t beat Alexandra Obolentseva of Russia to finish half a point behind the eventual winner.

Srihari (8), who was in contention for the gold at the start of the penultimate day, endured draws in the last two rounds to slip to the second position. S Maralakshikari won the bronze, after beating the surprise package of the championship, R Abinandhan.

CM Aronyak Ghosh (8) claimed the other bronze for the country in the Under-16 Open after drawing with Iran’s Arash Daghli. He will, however, look back at the WYCC as a missed opportunity, after accepting a quick draw in the penultimate round.

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Rohit Sharma surpasses Bradman, adds another feather to his cap

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Rohit Sharma

Ranchi, Oct 20 : Rohit Sharma has silenced his critics with his continuous good run with the bat in the ongoing series against South Africa, proving his mettle as a Test opener.

The Mumbai batsman has so far notched up two centuries and a double ton in the ongoing three-Test series against the Proteas and his knock of 212 on Sunday has helped him break Don Bradman’s record for the highest Test average at home after 10-plus innings.

Rohit now averages 99.84 at home, edging past Bradman’s average of 98.22. Rohit has now amassed 1,298 runs in 18 innings in Tests at home, which includes six centuries and five half-centuries.

The Mumbai batsman struck his maiden double century in Test cricket on Sunday as India declared on 497/9 and reduced South Africa to 9/2 before bad light brought an early end to the second day’s play in the the third Test.

In the process, Rohit also became the fourth batsman to hit a double hundred both in Test and ODI cricket, emulating Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Chris Gayle.

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Nadal ties knot with longtime girlfriend

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Rafael Nadal

Mallorca, Oct 20 Tennis star Rafael Nadal has tied the knot with his longtime girlfriend of 14 years, Xisca Perello, at a castle here.

According to reports in the Spanish media, Nadal, a 19-time grand slam winner, had more than 300 guests invited for the wedding.

The nuptials with Perello was performed at a British-owned fortress.

The 33-year old Nadal met his wife through his younger sister Maribel, a childhood friend of Perello.

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After Nikhat, Pinki questions rule tweak to accommodate Mary Kom

“What are we doing here? We have also come into the camp as national champions. I had defeated Mary Kom in the trials before 2014 Commonwealth Games. Then there’s no reason why I cannot defeat her again.

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Boxer Pinki Jangra

New Delhi, Oct 19 : Boxer Pinki Jangra has backed Nikhat Zareen’s demand for a fair trial for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and wondered why the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) was tweaking the rules and favouring six-time champion Mary Kom.

Speaking to IANS, Pinki said, “On Thursday, I came to know that Mary Kom would not be competing in the trials and will be directly sent to the qualifiers. This is not right. The same thing happened before the World Championships. We had then also raised our concerns but we were told that rules are different for different tournaments and that trials would be conducted for qualifiers.”

Mary Kom has maintained that she would go by the decision taken by the federation, which had earlier stated that only the gold and silver-winners from the world event would be given direct selection for the Olympic qualifiers.

“What are we doing here? We have also come into the camp as national champions. I had defeated Mary Kom in the trials before 2014 Commonwealth Games. Then there’s no reason why I cannot defeat her again. I know she is a legend and I have huge respect for her. But if she is a legend, then why is she not competing in trials? We will feel satisfied if she defeats us and goes to the Qualifiers.”

“We also have the same goal as qualifying for the Olympics just like Mary Kom. We also want to represent India at the world stage but for that we need an opportunity first,” she added.

Pinki, the 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, further said that she has demanded a clarification from her coaches as to why the rules are being changed. “If I don’t get a clarification, I will write to the BFI. If by Monday I don’t get a response, I will personally go and meet the BFI President.”

Nikhat had written a letter to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Thursday, demanding that she should be given a trial bout against Mary Kom before the Indian squad for next year’s Olympic qualifiers in China is decided.

Rijiju, however, steered clear of the controversy, saying he can only ask the federation to decide what is best for the nation and athletes.

This was after the BFI stated that it intends to pick Mary Kom (51kg) for the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers slated to be held in Wuhan from February 3 to 14 on the back of her recent bronze medal at the world championships in Russia.

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