‘The break has helped a lot’
Yashpal is sole leader
Vijaylakshmi becomes first
Indian GMs to meet on the Net
Md. Sporting rally to win
Tolly edge past George

 
 
‘THE BREAK HAS HELPED A LOT’ 
 
 
FROM AMITAVA DAS GUPTA
 
Calcutta, July 24: 
He missed Wimbledon for only the second time in 11 years. He had to sit at home as India got thrashed by Sweden in Davis Cup. But Leander Paes is not cursing his luck for being rendered hors de combat at the French Open early last month. Indeed, the wrist injury seems to have done the 27-year-old ‘veteran’ more good than harm.

“I can’t explain how much this break has helped... it has really rejuvenated me,” Paes told The Telegraph from his Orlando flat.

The damaged tendon in his right wrist has responded well to treatment at the Celebration Health and Fitness Centre in Disney, Florida — a state-of-the-art rehab centre for top athletes the world over. The cast has been removed and he expects to hit a tennis ball later this week.

“Apart from the wrist rehab, I had a lot of other niggling injuries taken care of and even had a minor operation done on my forearm. Let’s say I’ve ensured my whole body is healthy again... I am feeling rested and relaxed,” said Paes, who has been out of action since withdrawing from the French Open mixed doubles event.

Seven weeks down and at least three to go under normal circumstances, Paes is still not sure when exactly he’ll start competing on the ATP Tour again. “I hope to start tennis by the end of this week and I want to return to the Tour by the US Open (beginning August 28). Wrist permitting, I even want to play singles qualifiers the week before,” the Olympic bronze-medallist observed.

The million-dollar question cropped up, quite inevitably. Is there any chance of the Paes-Bhupathi pair taking court at Flushing Meadow, or will the Sydney Olympic and Bangalore World Doubles just be one-off appearances?

“My priority now is to recover completely from the wrist problem and get back to the court as early as possible... Thinking of the US Open is too premature at this point of time,” was all that Paes would say on a topic as hot as Bal Thackeray’s possible arrest.

A cautious answer, but one with camouflaged optimism. The fact that Paes hasn’t yet committed to any other partner for the US Open, could give new hope to fans who have cried themselves hoarse imploring him to rejoin forces with Bhupathi.

Another encouraging sign is reopening of the communication channel between the two separated stars after some months. Paes, while admitting he had called his Davis Cup teammates in Bastad over the weekend, stressed that it was only to cheer them up.

“They (India) were up against it in Bastad, but the close doubles match is a positive sign,” Paes remarked. India were drubbed 0-5, but Bhupathi and Syed Fazaluddin gave Nicklas Kulti and Mikael Tillstrom a scare before losing in five sets.

The mention of Davis Cup brought the spark back in Paes’ voice, but there was a tinge of apprehension as well. “Davis Cup’s been my stage always, I haven’t enjoyed missing two ties (versus Italy in 1998 and now Sweden) in the last three years. But after 11 years on the circuit I wonder how long I can go on playing day in and day out.”

Pressed for a clarification, Paes said he’d realised he was putting too much pressure on his body and demanding too much from it. “The other day I was calculating how much I’ve played over the last six-seven years and I realised it’s been anything between 26 to 30 weeks a year. That’s crazy. I’ve got to find a way to change it.”

Paes is convinced he has to cut down on his volume of tennis. But how? Davis Cup is too close to his heart, doubles is his bread-and-butter, there are singles goals he still wishes to pursue.

Finding a satisfactory answer would be as vital as ‘re-fixing’ the Bhupathi affair in the home stretch of a remarkable career.    


 
 
YASHPAL IS SOLE LEADER 
 
 
BY A CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, July 24: 
Yashpal Singh Sonwani of Bhilai emerged sole leader with five points at the end of Round 5 of Fide-rated The Telegraph Schools’ Chess Championship at Gorky Sadan today.

Meanwhile, Paramita Ghosh of Salkia KBR Girls’ HS continued her brilliant run with an upset victory over the Bangladesh Junior No. 2 Syed Ejaz Hussain.

In another upset top seed, Saptarshi Roy of Dum Dum Kishore Bharati was held to a draw by unrated Nilabh Upadhyay of Sun Rise School.

Yashpal beat Sayan Sarkar of Vivekananda Institution, Howrah in the Najdorf variation of the Sicilian defence. Sayan, playing white,went for a kingside attack while Yashpal made a timely break in the centre and exploited the back rank of Sayan to win in 32 moves.

Nilabh thwarted all atttempts by Saptarshi to squeeze out a win from a drawn Bishop versus Knight ending which arose from a Sicilian defence.

Second seed, and National U-12 Boys’ Champion Deep Sengupta of S-E Rly Eng. Medium School was held to draw by former National U-10 boys’ champion Rahul Sangma of Bihar. Rahul, in fact, held the advantage in a rook and three pawns versus rook and two pawns endgame, but Deep defended accurately to force a draw.

Unseed Yanur Rahaman of Bangladesh drew with fifth seed Sayantan Dutta of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Fort William in 22 moves in a Ruy Lopez opening. Yanur, who was running a high fever today, was advised by the official doctor to be hospitalised. Yanur has withdrawn from the tournament round and in all likelyhood, will return to Bangladesh.

Sk. Shahid of Modern School, who stole the limelight in the last two rounds lost to Yamben Dhanbir Singh of Manipur after a prolonged battle which extended up to 57 moves.

Rohan Vijay Shandilya the Jamshedpur leg winner,bt M Shanta Singh of Guwahati in 60 moves in the French Winawer.

Mr P T Ummer Koya, vice-president of Fide and secretary of AICF visited the playing venue, the Alekhine Chess Club, to encourage the participants. He praised the Telegraph’s venture and said such tournaments are neded to boost chess among youngsters in the country. The meet is being co-sponsored by Horlicks.

TOP BOARD RESULTS,

Nilabh Upadhyay 4.5 drew Saptarshi Roy 4.5; Rahul Sangma drew Deep Sengupta 4.5; Sayantan Dutta 4.5 drew Yanur Rahaman 4.5; Sayan Sarkar 4 lost to Yashpal Singh Sonwani 5; Gulam Mustafa Bhuiyan 4.5 bt Suman Basu 3.5; Arpan Chakraborty 3.5 lost to Somak Palit 4.5; Ejaz Hussain 3.5 lost to Paramita Ghosh 4.5; Yamben Dhanbir Singh 4.5 bt Sk. Shahid Ahmed 3.5; Arin Kr Biswas 3.5 lost to Pratik Sengupta 4; Rohan Vijay Shandilya 4 bt Moirangthem Shanta 3; Sanhank Singh 4 bt Puneet Jaiswal 3; Ayan Lahiri 4 bt Debayan Majumdar 3; Syed Rownak Eshan 4 bt Souvik Chakraborty 3; Soumya Thakurta 3.5 drew Nazir Saleheen 3.5; Rajib Dhar 4 bt Nayeem Arefin 3; Joydeep Dutta 4 bt C R G Krishna 3; Samantak Bhadra 3 lost to Arindam Das 4; Mary Ann Gomes 4 bt Arijit Ghosh 3; Abhijit Kar 4 bt Gaurabjyoti Baidya 3; Priyanka Das 3 lost to Tanmoy Pattanayak 4.    

 
 
VIJAYLAKSHMI BECOMES FIRST 
 
 
FROM G.S. RADHAKRISHNA
 
Hyderabad, July 24: 
Twenty-one year old Subbaraman Vijaylakshmi today became the first Indian Woman Grandmaster. She earned the distinction when she collected her fourth GM norm off a nine-round 3.5 (with a draw versus P. Harikrishna) in the Wipro International GM tournament here.

“I am happy at this achievement. But will strive to become the world champion in the next five years,” said a jubilant Vijaylakshmi.

Playing a complicated game in King’s Indian, Vijaylakshmi was tense and let her opponent off the hook to settle for a draw in 40 moves to leap into history with the final Grandmaster norm.

Vijaylakshmi will get a cash award of Rs 2 lakh along with a citation from the All India Chess Federation, federation secretary P.T. Ummer Koya said from Calcutta over telephone.

She has won the national women’s title four times so far and. She also holds two IM norms (men).

She eked out a Goliath-killing performance on Saturday by conquering highly rated Grandmaster Maxim Sorokhin. She had humbled Indian GM Abhijit Kunte (who had come with the high reputation of not losing a single game in the nationals) earlier. “I am happy to have broken the losing streak with him,” said Viji after trouncing Kunte.

Commenting on women playing chess and commitment to the game she says: “It is not easy for a woman chess player to come up the ladder.

“The exposure is different, the dependence on escorts, the cost of equipping oneself to international standards of the game and the psyche of the environment around, all matters,” she says candidly after her achievement. She works in the accounts section of Indian Airlines.

Viji, as she is popularly known, started playing chess at the age of three-and-a-half. “My father is my coach,” she says. She has earned her 2379 ELO points playing at all sorts of openings available to her. Although she has no qualms in playing with men in tournaments, she feels it is helpful if women’s tournaments are held. The last such tournament was held in Chennai in 1986. “I have no inhibitions in playing with men. I want to win the men’s GM title too,” she says.

One of her memorable moments was when she defeated GM Mihail Kobalija of Russia in the Linares tournament in 1998 when she won her first GM norm.

Her sisters Meenakshi and Bhanupriya are also chess players.

Surya holds GM Ionov

Bengal youngster IM Surya Sekhar Ganguly produced yet another fine display when he held Russian GM Sergey Ionov. Yesterday, Surya had drawn with Kazakh GM Evegeny Vladimirov, adds PTI.

Top seed Vladimirov was at his best today, beating Maxim Sorokin in 46 moves. Indian GM Abhijit Kunte fought hard to prevail over Sandipan Chanda. In another tough game, D.V. Prasad drew with GM K. Sasikiran.    


 
 
INDIAN GMS TO MEET ON THE NET 
 
 
FROM SUJIT BHAR
 
Calcutta, July 24: 
The All India Chess Federation (AICF) has big plans this year, and much of it is high-tech.

Apart from hosting the Fide men’s world championship (where Alexander Khalifman will be defending his title) in New Delhi from November 25 to December 16, and the women’s world championship at the same venue at the same time, the AICF is busy putting together a plan for a novel meet over the Internet, involving mainly Indian Grandmasters.

AICF secretary and Fide vice-president P. T. Ummerkoya said here today that these were busy days, but, keeping in mind that India plans to become the first country in the world to host its national meet over the Internet (a meet, he says, to be organised by the end of the year), the new round-robin championship should be a logical precursor.

“The India-based Grandmasters should not pose a problem,” said Koya. “I will have to see if Viswanathan Anand will be agreeable to take part from Madrid.”

The Indian GMs are in diferent cities. Dibyendu Barua is in Calcutta, Abhijit Kunte is in Pune, Pravin Thipsay in Mumbai and K. Sasikiran in Chennai. The round-robin championship, planned for December, will have a title round.

The players will be in their home cities, playing over the Net in real time. The AICF website (in the pipeline) will be monitoring the game and will have the requisite expert feedback facilities for followers.

Ummerkoya said: “Chess today is a game with immense potential to become the biggest sport in the country. The world championship in New Delhi is expected to be the biggest sporting extravaganza ever in this country.”

With money pouring into the game and now that the country also has its first Woman Grandmaster in Subbaraman Vijaylakshmi (final norm confirmed in Hyderabad today), the AICF wants to cash in on the popularity. More so, because the US and European countries are rushing to make their own Net versions of the game viable.

Big prize purse

The $ 3 million prize-money men’s world championship will be played till the semi-finals in New Delhi with the final going over to Teheran who have offered $ 2.2 million. The women’s meet (prize money $ 500,000) will be gone through till the end in New Delhi.

Players will benefit from every stage of the world championship this year. Even first-round loser will gain $ 6,000, the amount going up to $ 15,000 in the second round. The champion gets $ 1 million, and the runner-up $ 600,000.

Over 100 countries, with 80 per cent GM participation, will be in the men’s world meet. With the abolishing of the Candidates system, this meet can see an entirely new set of finalists.    


 
 
MD. SPORTING RALLY TO WIN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 24 
Mohammedan Sporting came from behind to record their third victory in five games in the Super Division at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium today.

On a turf unsuitable for any level of soccer, Mohammedan Sporting went in the red by an Aslam Pervez suicidal goal just after the breather. Amjad Ansari restored parity 15 minutes later while Kasif Jamal struck the matchwinner from a penalty.

With the ground reduced to a slushy mess, the players struggled to come to terms with the conditions in the first half. The second half was better with Mohammedan Sporting pressing hard for a victory.

Srikrishna Ghosh was the most enterprising among the men in black-and-white jersey. It was through his initiative that they managed to return victors.

Aslam’s failure to keep a cool head resulted in Eastern Railway taking the lead. Monojit Sarkar’s low cross from the right was aimed at Prasanta Ghosh but Aslam’s faulty clearence near the goalline landed in the net.

The panic buttons were pressed as Mohammedan Sporting suddenly launched a flurry of attacks. Srikrishna in the company of Bastab Roy was the livewire.

The equaliser came in the 17th minute. Bastab ran down the right flank and his cross was on target for a sliding Amjad to slot home from inside the box.

Bastab again had a role to play in their second goal. As he made his way in dangerously into the box he was brought down by Sukumar Ghosh. Referee Harisadhan Ghosh had no hesitation in pointing to the dreaded spot.

Kasif placed the ball to the left of the goalkeeper from the resultant penalty.

TEAMS

MD. SPORTING: Gopal Das, Tej Bahadur, Alsam Pervez (Narayan Saha, 57), Insan Ali, Palash Ghosh, Bastab Roy, Alauddin Rehman, Srikrishna Ghosh, Kasif Jamal, Najim-ul Haq, Amjad Ansari (Joy Kabui, 84).

EASTERN RAILWAY: Kaushik Pal, Arunava Sarkar, Sukumar Ghosh, Sovan Chakraborty, Shiv Shankar Chowdhury, Md Farid Ali Mollah (Raju Mondal, 79), Sanjoy Das, Somen Datta (Sujit Mondal, 69), Prodyut Roy, Prashanta Ghosh, Monojit Sarkar (Benoy Sarkar, 63).

Referee: Harisadhan Ghosh.    


 
 
TOLLY EDGE PAST GEORGE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 24: 
Tollygunge Agragami overcame George Telegraph by a solitary goal in a Super Division tie at the East Bengal ground today. Bhabani Mohanty scored the matchwinner in the 33rd minute following a Shasthi Duley cross from the right.

In first division group A action, Peerless overcame Behala Youth 1-0. The Rajasthan-Kalighat tie at the Mohammedan Sporting ground was abandoned after the referee declared the turf unfit.

League penalties

The CFL sub-committee today ruled in favour of Bhratri Sangha and Howrah Union and awarded three points to each side.

Bhratri Sangha had alleged that Howrah Union had illegally registered some players on the day of their first division group A tie. Howrah Union had also protested, against Eastern Coalfields’ fielding of an unauthorised player in another match. Both allegations were found to be true.

Cossimbazar TT

Indebar Chatterjee will meet Subham Chaudhuri in the men’s singles final of the Cossimbazar table tennis championships. In the semi-finals today, Indebar prevailed over Ranabir Das when the latter conceded after losing the first set 15-21. Subham beat Amit Mukherjee 21-17, 16-21, 21-19, 21-11.

The women’s final pits Nandita Saha against Kasturi Chakraborty.

RESULTS (all semi-finals)

Men: Indebar Chatterjee bt Ranabir Das 21-15, conceded; Subham Chaudhuri bt Amit Mukherjee 21-17, 16-21, 21-19, 21-11,. Women: Nandita Saha bt Monisha Chakraborty 21-10, 24-22, 21-17; Kasturi Chakraborty bt Avanti Sinha 21-11, 21-7, 15-21, 21-11. Sub-jr boys: ubhadip Das bt Chiranjib Chowdhury 21-10, 21-11, 15-21, 21-12; Sourav Pradhan bt Avijit Pal 16-21, 21-15, 22-20, 21-17. Sub-jr girls: Runa Roy bt Munni Laha 21-17, 21-13, 21-19; Moon Moon Basak bt Ria Das Gupta 21-14, 19-21, 21-12, 20-22, 21-17. Nursery boys: Susavan Das bt Dhiman Roy 21-19, 21-12; Pritam Bose bt Abir Dutta Chowdhury 21-18, 21-18. Nursery girls: Tonaya Dutta bt Jayeta Pushilal 21-14, 21-18; Mousumi Sanyal bt Rumpa Sarkar 21-16, 21-14.    

 

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