3-way lead with a round to go
EB look to reverse the tide
War clouds over Paes preparation
SAF Games off indefinitely
Grover in lead
Pune Racing/ Jockeys’ protest delays start
Calcutta Races/4 for Wednesday’s Monsoon Cup

Calcutta, Sept. 23: 
The 14th edition of The Telegraph Schools’ Chess Championship is poised for an exciting finish.

Three players — Somak Palit, Saptarshi Roy and Abhishek Das — were all on 8.5 points after the tenth and penultimate round at Gorky Sadan today.

Abhishek of Bharat Sevashram School, Jamshedpur, has the best progressive score and a win tomorrow will be enough for him to seal the title.

In the final round, Abhishek will meet Debayan Majumdar. Saptarshi meets Joydeep Dutta, while Somak comes up against Supriya Maji.

Abhishek, sole leader overnight, drew both his games today, allowing Saptarshi and Somak to catch up. Playing against top seed Saptarshi in the morning, the Jamshedpur boy enjoyed a bit of luck as he had only a rook for bishop and knight in the ending.

Saptarshi blundered a knight under severe time pressure after which the game was drawn despite Abhishek’s efforts to squeeze in a win.

In the tenth round, Abhishek decided to play safe against Joydeep of Kumar Ashutosh Institution (Branch) in the exchange variation of the Queen’s Gambit declined. His offer for truce was promptly accepted.

The highlight of the day, however, was Supriya’s upset win over third seed Ayan Lahiri of Laban Hrad Vidyapith. In the Alapin Variation of the Sicilian Defence, Supriya won a rook for bishop on the 17th move, but there were some technical difficulties in carving out a win due to the closed nature of the position.

Supriya went on to win the game after 61 moves after some methodical exchanges in the endgame.

Somak of Mitra Institution jumped back in contention by winning both games comfortably. In the ninth round, he outplayed Rohan Vijay Shandilya of DBMS Career Academy in the Advance Variation of the French Defence. Later, Somak registered a comfortable victory over the winner of the Bhubaneswar leg — Nishikanta Mishra of B.J. English Medium School.

Sudip Rajbanshi of Louis Braille Memorial School for the Sightless took his tally to 6.5. In the morning, he upset Souvik Chakrborty of Narmada High School, but lost to Soumya Thakurta of St James later.

In one of the longest game of the meet which lasted 77 moves, Sourav Chakraborti of St James managed to survive from an inferior position against Abhijit Kar in a rook-bishop-pawn versus rook ending.

St James School lead the field for the Best School Trophy where the results of the best four are pooled together to determine the champion.


Round IX: Abhishek Das (8) drew Saptarshi Roy (7.5); Samput Mallick (7) lost to Joydeep Dutta (7.5); Nishikant Mishra (7) drew Tanmoy Pattanayak (7); Somak Palit (7.5) bt Rohan Vijay Shandilya (6); Supriya Maji (7) bt Ayan Lahiri (6); Debayan Majumder(7) bt Soumya Thakurta (6); Sankar Majumder (7) bt Sharmin S. Shirin (6); Mary Ann Gomes (7) bt Ritam Bhaumik (6); Varun Jain (6.5) drew Suman Basu (6); Swagatam Sengupta (6.5) drew Sourav Bose (6); Souparna Ghosh (6) drew Debaditta Biswas (6); Pritam Banerjee (6.5) bt Sriya Bhattacharya (5.5); Abhijit Kar (6.5) bt N. Sashank Singh (5.5); Abhishikta Pattanaik (6) drew Kunal Somaiya (6); Bharat B. Mohanty (5.5) lost to Abinash Das (6.5); Abhratanu Dutta (5.5) lost to Saurav Chakraborti (6.5); Tathagata Banerjee(6.5) bt Sk Shahid Ahmed (5); Sudip Rajbanshi (6.5) bt Souvik Chakraborty (5.5); Chiranjit Saha (6) drew Anirudha Menon (6); Subhabrata Das (5.5) drew Arpan Sarkar (Sr) (5); Saurya Dasgupta (5) lost to Prabuddha Ghosh (5); Minhazuddin A. Sagar (6) bt Souvick Barick (5); Dipayan Ghosh (5.5) drew Hasib R.K. Sagar(5); Priya Ratnam (6) bt Sumit Shaw (5); Antarip Roy (5.5) drew Arijit Sinha (5).

Round X: Joydeep Dutta (8) drew Abhishek Das (8.5); Saptarshi Roy (8.5) bt Samput Mallick (7); Nishikant Mishra (7) lost to Somak Palit (8.5); Tanmoy Pattanayak (7.5) drew Mary Ann Gomes (7.5); Supriya Maji (8) bt Sankar Majumder (7); Pritam Banerjee (6.5) lost to Debayan Majumder (8); Suman Basu (7.5) bt Tathagata Banerjee (6.5); Sourav Bose (7.5) bt Varun Jain (6.5); Abinash Das (6.5) lost to Swagatam Sengupta (7.5); Saurav Chakraborti (7) bt Abhijit Kar (7); Soumya Thakurta (7) bt Sudip Rajbanshi (6.5); Ayan Lahiri (7) bt Jibanand Singh (6); Rohan Vijay Shandilya (6.5) drew Suddhasattwa Das (6.5 ); Debaditta S. Biswas (7) bt Payel Guha (6 ); Amritesh Ray (7) bt Abhishikta Pattanaik (6); Prabuddha Ghosh (6) lost to Souparna Ghosh (7); K. Chakraborty (6) lost to Minhazuddin A. Sagar (7); Ritam Bhaumik (6) drew Kunal Somaiya (6); Shamima A. Liza (6) lost to Priya Ratnam (7); Aniruddha Menon (7) lost to Nandan Buragohain (6); Sharmin S. Shirin (6) lost to Chiranjit Saha (7); Najir Arifin (7) bt Karamtej Singh (6); Arijit Sinha (5.5) lost to Sayan Sarkar (6.5); N. Sashank Singh (6.5) bt Abhratanu Dutta (5.5); Arpan Sarkar (Sr) (6.5) bt Arijit Ghosh (5.5); Hasib R.K. Sagar (5.5) lost to Subhabrata Das (6.5); Sk Shahid Ahmed (6) drew Dipayan Ghosh (6); Sriya Bhattacharya (6.5) bt Antarip Roy (5.5); Souvik Chakraborty (6.5) bt Arinjoy Ganguly (5.5); Sandipan Chatterjee (6.5) bt C. Vijay Gopal (5.5).


Calcutta, Sept. 23: 
On a modest analysis, this has been a bleak season for East Bengal thus far. A convincing loss at the hands of arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, further setbacks in the CFL Super Division and a first-round exit from the Federation Cup have left the National League champions high and dry in terms of success.

Manoranjan Bhattacharya’s team still has a chance of pipping Mohun Bagan to the Super Division title, but the red-and-gold brigade is looking at the IFA Shield to turn the tide. “This is a very important tournament for us… the players realise that and are ready,” the coach said on the eve of their meet-opener against Tollygunge Agragami.

While the East Bengal versus Tollygunge Agragami group A clash kicks off the 107th edition of the IFA Shield at 3 pm tomorrow, Nam Dinh of Vietnam and Muktijoddha of Bangladesh (group C) lock horns under lights in the double-header at Salt Lake Stadium.

The induction of Ghanaian Suley Musah after the Federation Cup disaster, Jo Paul Ancheri’s availability and the return of national campers Sangram Mukherjee, Dipak Mondal, Dipankar Roy and Dipendu Biswas have no doubt made Manoranjan’s job that much easier. But for the injured Ratan Singh and Amit Das, the coach has the full compliment of players to choose from.

East Bengal, of course, are treating Tollygunge with the respect they deserve. “That they are a good team was again proved when they beat Mohun Bagan recently. We have to be cautious about Tollygunge,” Manoranjan said.

His opposite number Amal Dutta preferred not to talk much after this morning’s workout. He did observe, though, that Musah’s runs need to be checked.

The veteran coach may be forced to make a change in the line-up tomorrow. Regular goalkeeper Sandip Nandy has a swollen hand and is likely to be replaced by Gopal Das under the bar. Reazul Mustafa will again stay on the sidelines.

The Tollygunge camp was generally wary of the refereeing in tomorrow’s match, the feeling being that the big team always gets some undue benefits.

Tollygunge threat

Tollygunge, meanwhile, have threatened to skip their match against Mohammedan Sporting unless the IFA changes the venue. As per the fixtures released Saturday, that match has been scheduled at Kishore Bharati on Wednesday.

“The ground is in unplayable condition and we have asked for a change in venue,” said a Tollygunge official. “If the IFA refuses to accept our demand, we will have to give a walkover.”

The battle under lights

As Palmeiras and the local big teams hogged the limelight in the build-up to what should be an interesting tournament, Nam Dinh and Muktijoddha braced for battle under floodlights.

Nam Dinh are an unknown quantity, but the fact that Vietnam occupy a higher slot in Fifa rankings than both India and Bangladesh, suggests their football shouldn’t be inferior to what we are used to seeing. From the way they have been conducting their practice sessions, the Vietnam league runners-up look a serious lot. And even though this is their maiden foreign tour, they are confident of at least a semi-final entry.

Muktijoddha are keeping their fingers crossed. They had expected four of their players from the disbanded SAF Games national camp to arrive today, but the quartet can’t reach before tomorrow’s game.


Calcutta, Sept. 23: 
Leander Paes has starred in myriad Indian superhits. Davis Cup, in particular, has squeezed out several virtuoso performances from the 28-year-old superstar. As another high-profile assignment looms on the horizon, it suddenly seems a different ball-game altogether.

Last fortnight’s scary attacks on New York and Washington have, indeed, thrown Leander’s tennis schedule topsy-turvy. So much so that for the first time in his illustrious career, Leander will be going into a Davis Cup tie woefully short on match practice.

When the Indian No. 1 steps on to the Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem for his opening-day singles rubber on October 12, he would have been playing a competitive match after exactly five weeks. Out of action since the US Open where he featured in the mixed doubles final, Leander’s return got delayed as the Davis Cup World Group relegation tie, originally scheduled for this weekend, was postponed by three weeks to give America time to recover from the terrorist shocks.

“It’s a strange situation. I would like to leave for Florida as soon as possible to start preparations for Davis Cup, but I have to wait and watch how things develop in the US and Afghanistan,” Leander told The Telegraph today. Having flown out of New York 24 hours before the tragedy, Leander spent 10 days in Mumbai before checking into his hometown Thursday night.

“A five-week lay-off is not the ideal preparation for a tough tie, that’s why I wanted it rescheduled in November. But the ITF has its compulsions. These are extraordinary circumstances and as a pro, I have to show adaptability,” Leander reasoned.

He had the option of playing next week’s ATP event in Moscow, where his partner Mahesh Bhupathi has entered. “I decided against going to Moscow because it won’t be much use playing just a few doubles matches. I would rather practise with the other boys and prepare for singles,” Leander defended himself.

Singles is an area of major concern for the Olympic bronze-medallist. Having gradually reconciled himself to a doubles-oriented career on the ATP circuit, Leander finds himself saddled with a double-role every time he is involved with Davis Cup. He is expected to play the lead role in doubles, as well as clinch both singles rubbers for India to win.

More often than not, Leander has delivered. But these are different circumstances. “I haven’t played a singles match since Wimbledon, so there’s a lot of work to do.”

His scepticism is understandable. The Americans, after all, will be formidable opponents even without Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. The experienced Todd Martin is Leander’s likely foe on Day I, while Andy Roddick will confront him on Day III. Not a very comforting prospect for a man low on practice and confidence.

With the Davis Cup in mind, Leander made it a point to watch Roddick at the US Open. “He is an amazing talent and definitely has the potential to be world No. 1,” remarked Leander.

“It’s his firepower which brings a new dimension to the game… he hits the ball so hard, be it serving or returning, you have very little time to react,” Leander explained.

Defending the teenager’s tantrum-throwing act which cost him the marathon five-set quarter final against eventual champion Lleyton Hewitt, Leander said: “That was a real rough call from the chair umpire. I don’t blame him (Roddick) for blowing his top. He does have a sound temperament otherwise.”

Talk of skills or the home advantage factor — they all point to an American triumph next month. Even a characteristic Leander flourish may not be sufficient to pull his team through. Unless, of course, the Roddicks and the Martins get weighed down by the September 11 catastrophe.


Islamabad, Sept. 23: 
Another casualty of the recent crisis in the region were the ninth South Asian Federation (SAF) Games, scheduled for October 6-15. They have now been put off indefinitely. New dates will be announced at a special executive committee meeting of South Asian Sports Federation.

“The SAF Games are postponed because some foreign technical delegates had decided not to come to Pakistan as per travel advisories issued by their respective embassies here,” the chairman of SAF Games Organising Committee, Maj. Gen. Syed Arif Hasan, told a hurriedly called press conference.

“The Games’ international status would have been affected in the absence of foreign technical delegates,” Arif said. “There is no use in holding the Games with suspect international status.”

Earlier, sports minister Col. (Retd) S. K. Tressler formally announced the postponement of the Games featuring the seven South Asian countries. Pakistan Olympic Association secretary Md Latif Butt was also present.

“The executive meeting of SASF will be called as quickly as possible,” Gen. Arif Hasan said, adding that the likely date will be in February-March. “However, this depends on decisions of SASF meeting and how the situation turns out by that time,” he said.

He announced that a “skeleton staff” of the SAF Games secretariat will continue functioning in the interim period while the training of athletes will also be in progress.

Basics to remain

He said he will talk to the sponsors tomorrow and reassure them about holding of the Games. “The SAF Games quiz programmes, websites, SAF radio and raffle schemes will also continue,” he said.

On possible financial losses, he said some loss will be incurred but “but the major investment had been in infrastructure development, which will be of advantage in the coming years.”

Gen. Arif Hasan said he had talked to the high commissioners of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh overnight before reaching the decision of postponement.

He also said that there was no instruction from the from the government about postponing the Games. sports minister Tressler had said that the decision to postpone Games and SAF-Karakoram Car Rally had been taken in the national interest and “with reluctance.”


Calcutta, Sept. 23: 
Vishal Grover emerged leader after Day IV of the ColorPlus national bowling qualifiers at Nicco Super Bowl today.

Grover has an average score of 176.5 points, followed by Vimal Kundra (150.5) and Shyam Sunder (144.75).

State billiards, snooker

The state senior and junior billiards and snooker championships will be held at Bengal Rowing Club from October 1. The last date for entries is Tuesday, at the West Bengal Billiards Association office.    

Pune, Sept 23: 
The Western India jockeys went on a flash strike and delayed the start of the Sunday races by 45 minutes. Jockeys protested against heavy fines imposed on them for whipping related offences and also against the implementation of the Turf Authoity of India’s (TAI) ruling which requires a restricted use of the whip. Good sense, however, prevailed following the intervention of the stewards and RWITC committee members. A case filed by jockeys against TAI on the whipping issue was thrown out by the Mumbai city civil court off last week.

S. A. PoonawallaTrophy: Riding a well-judged race, jockey P. Kamlesh partnered Rambus to a length victory over the topweight Oath Fulfilled in the S. A. Poonawalla Trophy in Pune on Sunday. Cooji Katrak trained the Placerville-Lap of Luxury colt.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Adam’s Treasure Plate 1,000m: (3-5-1) Mein Kampf (Rajendra) 1; Super Sword 2; Texas King 3. Not run: Suddenly (4). Won by: SH; 1; (1-0.9). Tote: Win Rs 37; Place: 15; 17; Quinella: 29; Tanala: 98. Fav: Super Sword (5).

2. Super Brave Trophy 1,000m: (4-2-5) Fluency (Rajinder) 1; Grand Gesture 2; Mystic Lady 3. Won by: 5-1/2; 2-3/4; (1-0.8). Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 10; 14; Quinella: 17; Tanala: 35. Fav: Fluency (4).

3. Blue Ice Plate 2,000m: (1-4-3) Classic Rock (Rajinder) 1; Reflecting 2; Count Dracula 3. Won by: 4; 2-1/4; (2-7). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 16; 12; Quinella: 27; Tanala: 188. Fav: Classic Rock (1).

4. Rao Saheb Kedari Trophy 1,600m: (2-4-6) National Velvet (Gallagher) 1; Alustar 2; Knoxville 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 5-1/2; (1-40.9). Tote: Win Rs 20; Place: 13; 22; Quinella: 40; Tanala: 203. Fav: National Velvet (2).

5. S. A. Poonawalla Trophy 1,600m: (6-1-4) Rambus (Kamlesh) 1; Oath Fulfilled 2; Aphaia 3. Not run: Final Verdict (5). Won by: 1; SH; (1-40.2). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 13; 29; 20; Quinella: 199; Tanala: 1,099. Fav: Rambus (6). (Note: Aphaia was second but was demoted following an objection).

6. Dedication Plate 2,000m: (2-3-5) Park Lane (Mann) 1; Loving You 2; Dreamcatcher 3. Won by: SH; 1; (2-11). Tote: Win Rs 35; Place: 14; 14; 20; Quinella: 51; Tanala: 212. Fav: Park Lane (2).

7. Alexandress Plate 1,800m: (2-8-6) Judge Jules (Appu) 1; Miss Sunshine 2; Centenary 3. Won by: 4-1/2; 1-3/4; (1-54.5). Tote: Win Rs 46; Place: 19; 33; 11; Quinella: 353; Tanala: 2,059. Fav: Centenary (6).

Jackpot: Rs 3,280; (C) Rs 228.

Treble: (i) Rs 113; (ii) Rs 323.


Calcutta, Sept. 23: 
Barring the main event, the 2,000m Monsoon Cup that has only four runners, fields are well balanced in Wednesday’s six-event race-card.First race starts at 1.35 pm.


1. Mercury Handicap 1,100m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72) 1.35 pm: Winning Hand 60.5; Endless Surprise 59; Sadaf 55; Kargil Soldier 54; Santillana 54; Master Bold 53.

2. Balam Cup 1,400m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72) 2.15 pm: Midas Touch 61; Pearl Dragon 58; Ballet Master 56.5; Peace Envoy 55.5; Starina 55.5; Mr. Bombshell 54.5; Azurica 53.5; Regency Times 51; On The Bit 50.5.

3. Fair Manzar Handicap 1,800m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28) 2.45 pm: Nearco Prince 60; Alvernia 58.5; Ballard Lady 58; Fencai 58; Royal Ruler 57; Aventura 56; Keep The Faith 53.

4. Monsoon Cup 2,000m (Cl I; Cl II eligible Rt. 66-94) 3.15 pm: Allosaki 60; Illustrious Reign 57.5; Alkido 53.5; Harry The Horse 48.

5. Sermon Handicap 1,400m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 3.50 pm: Beau Bruno 60; Alborada 58; Flamebird 55; Bay Dragon 54.5; Black 54; Pneumatic Power 52.5; Scavenger’s Son 52.5; Global Harmony 49; Tsaynen Blue 48.5.

6. Prawn Curry Handicap 1,100m (Cl IV, 22-50) 4.25 pm: Red Cordon 61; Brave Show 56; Secret Adversary 56; Sergeant Slipper 56; Flying Power 55; Storm Trooper 54; Tequila Shot 53.5; The Stud 53; Just Kidding 52.5; Aliqa 52; Impressive Prince 50.

Jackpot: 2; 3; 4; 5 & 6.

Treble: (i) 1; 2 & 3; (ii) 4; 5 & 6.


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