Prakash launches quest for GM title in style
India A invited to play in Windies domestic meet
Free Kick/ AIFF and its Cup of woes
Samrat ousted
Wari win
$ 50,000 purse at Asian meet

Calcutta, Feb. 6: 
The opening day of the 12th Goodricke International Open Chess Tournament belonged to Indian IM G.B. Prakash who caused a major upset by beating GM Tomasz Markowski of Poland at Gorky Sadan today. Prakash, with two GM norms under his belt, is looking for his final norm. He got his first norm at the same meet here last year.

In another upset, Indian women’s No. 2 Subbaraman Meenakshi — the younger sister of WGM S. Vijayalakshmi — beat WGM Joana Dworakowska of Poland in a thrilling encounter.

The star of the Indian contingent, IM Pentyala Harikrishna, was lucky to escape with a draw against IM Nelson Mariano of Philippines. Mariano had a clear space advantage in an advanced variation of the Caro-Kann defence but failed to convert it into a win and drew after 25 moves.

Saheli Dhar Barua beat Hungarian IM Oleg Boricsev with black pieces but her husband, GM Dibyendu, was held by Indian IM T.S. Ravi.

Markowski, playing white, opted for an unusual set-up in a Reti opening and tried to take the game along unfamiliar lines. But Prakash played energetically and surprised the GM with his 11th move — e5.

“Markowski faltered further on the 15th move when he castled on the queen side and lost a piece,” Prakash told The Telegraph later. Thereafter, it was a question of technique for Prakash, who wrapped up the game in 40 moves.

Meenakshi obtained an opening advantage in the Leningrad variation of the Dutch defence. Dworakowska tried to work up a king-side attack by sacrificing a piece but failed to make headway as Meenakshi gave up the exchange to thwart all attack. In an inferior position, Dworakowska lost her queen in time pressure and resigned.

Local IM Surya Sekhar Ganguly held second seed GM Evgeny Vladimirov in a Scotch Opening. This was Ganguly’s third draw against the Kazakh GM in as many matches.

IM Neelotpal Das of Goodricke Academy held GM Dimitri Komarov of Ukraine in 12 moves in the exchange variation of the French Opening. Sandipan Chanda, however, lost to GM Buenavent Villamayor of Philippines despite having an advantageous position.


Andrei Kharlov (1) bt Amon Simutowe (0). Surya Sekhar Ganguly (0.5) drew Evegeny Vladimirov (0.5). Tomasz Makowski (0) lost to G.B. Prakash (1). Zia-ur Rahaman (0.5) drew Abhijit Kunte (0.5). Buenavent Villamayor (1) bt Sandipan Chanda (0). Neelotpal Das (0.5) drew Dimitri Komarov (0.5). Dimitri Reinderman (1) bt S. Vijayalaxmi (0). Alexei Khamatgaleev (0) lost to Maxim Sorokin (1). Tejas Bakre (0.5) drew Igor Raussis (0.5). Joseph Gallagher (0.5) drew Chito Garma (0.5). Nelson Mariano (0.5) drew P. Harikrishna (0.5). Eshan Ghaem Maghami (1) bt J. Galianina-Ryjanova (0). T.S. Ravi (0.5) drew Dibyendu Barua (0.5). S. Satyapragyan (0) lost to Koneru Humpy (1).


Arghyadip Das (0) lost to B.T. Muralikrishnan (1). Saptarshi Roy (0.5) drew Dinesh Sharma (0.5). Saheli Nath (0) lost to C.S. Gokhale (1). Suvrajit Saha (1) bt Anoori Shah (0). Shanker Roy (0) w/o vs Lungu Maupande (1).    

Calcutta, Feb. 6: 
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has invited India A to play in their domestic Busta Cup next year. Patrick Rousseau, the president of WICB, announced this at the CAB this afternoon.

Rousseau and the chief executive of WICB, Gregory Shillingford, have been in the city for the last two days to discuss various issues with Jagmohan Dalmiya, who heads the Asian Cricket Foundation (ACF) — prime among them being the globalisation and development of the game.

“England A are playing in the Busta Cup this year and we hope that India will agree to be there next year,” Rousseau said.

The Busta Cup begins around the first week of January and ends in March, so the BCCI will need to think more than twice before accepting the offer as the Indian cricket season is at its peak then.

The WICB has also accepted the responsibility of development of cricket in the Americas and as a first step, it has decided to set up the Cricket Association of the Americas.

“We expect 14 countries to join us, which includes the US, Canada, some Latin American nations, the Bermudas. Cricket is played in all these countries but in a small scale,” Rousseau said. “Our job is to build the game and spread it there,” he added. To achieve that, they have sought the help of the ACF.

It has been decided that the Americas’ association would follow the constitution set up by the ACF, with certain amendments.

The WICB has also expressed its eagerness for exchange programmes, not only with the ACF but also with India. There will be the import of equipment, medicines, turf and non-turf wickets from India, which the West Indies require for the development of their domestic cricket. They also want India’s assistance in running their new-found cricket academy.

The two WICB officials expressed their appreciation towards the CAB for observing the Frank Worrell Day.

“This is probably the only cricket association in the world which does that. We are sad that we didn’t make it in time for the tribute paid to one of our greats.”

Rousseau promised to be here next year and also bring three teammates of Worrell, who would ensure to make the day a special one. He also expressed a wish to arrange a match between a West Indian team and a CAB team on that day.

The obvious question relating to match-fixing had to crop up. Rousseau said that they had not appointed anyone to investigate the allegations made against Brian Lara. But they have sent a representative to the anti-corruption unit meeting at Melbourne and are waiting for his assessment of the situation.

He also said that the world could hope to see an improvement in the standard of West Indian cricket but refused to admit it has possibly reached its nadir.


Calcutta, Feb. 6: 
The Sahara Cup was an acid test for the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and, Indian football, in general. Both had a chance of making a mark on the international scene after a long, long time, but both fell well short of scoring a Perfect 10.

This event was crucial to us on no less than three accounts. First, to prove that India can successfully host a big tournament of international stature. Second, to regenerate interest in football among the masses. And, most importantly, to prepare our team for future international assignments like the pre-World Cup and Afro-Asian Games.

What we saw was a welcome relief in terms of action on the soccer field but off it, things were not as exquisite. Starting from frequent last-minute changes in the schedule to cancellation of the third-place play-off, there were too many organisational hiccups.

The sad thing is, this time all these happened in front of a dozen foreign delegations. This will come in the way of India finding a prominent place in the football atlas and I won’t be surprised if these teams think twice before coming to India again.

From the organisational point of view, the AIFF and its event managers contributed to the devaluation of the event as they announced the participation of some superstars none of whom finally turned up. The news of these no-shows spread fast, resulting in a negative build-up. Consequently, the public started losing interest in the tournament.

The AIFF, still to recover from the election hangover, also failed to market the event properly. How else can one explain the near-empty stands in soccer-crazy places like Calcutta, Kochi and Margao? The fact that even matches involving the hosts failed to attract a decent crowd doesn’t augur well for Indian football.

It seems as if the AIFF bosses were too busy with elections and had little time in preparing for a meet featuring 12 foreign teams. The AIFF president may have thought his warm relation with Fifa’s top brass (president Sepp Blatter in particular) will help him rope in top teams, but he has to realise that a clear idea about the team’s international calendar is a necessary condition in such situations. It may just be so that the AIFF president had the right knowledge and intentions but he hardly received any support from other quarters.

This event should have been held a little earlier — ideally in September-October — when the local football seasons just get over and interest is at its peak.

Coming to the Indian team, it paid the price for not being properly prepared. The new coach should also be made responsible for making the players follow a system unknown to them. Playing with three central defenders with the side-backs constantly moving up and down the flanks is common in advanced countries but our players can’t get used to that so quickly. The coach should have realised our limitations and prepared his strategy accordingly. Instead, he jumped a few steps and the team got spanked.

Our team should have done better, specially after a fairly satisfying tour of England, but now, the job has become tougher and doing well in the pre-World Cup will require a lot of deconstructing and fresh initiatives. Also, we hardly have the time to prepare since the National League is on in full swing.

The quality of football on show was the only gain from the Sahara Cup and the kind of passing (long and short) displayed by Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Chile and Japan was worth watching and learning from. The variety of intricate passes with delectable touches at times was memorable. Their midfield play, the way they switched from defence to attack without playing long passes was a lesson in modern football and their supporting play was a revelation.

It was sad to hear about the death of Pankaj Roy. My association with him dates back to several decades though he had quit football when I came on the scene. His dedication and determination was a lesson for all sportsmen, not just cricketers. He was also an excellent student of the game. Pankajda was not just a fine sportsman, he was an even greater human being, polite and humble. In a nutshell, he was a cricketer, in the true sense of the word.


Calcutta, Feb. 6: 
Local boy Samrat Ghosh had caused a flutter at the Double Diamond ITF junior tennis championships yesterday when he beat 16th seed Damir Zhylkybeyev. Today, he lost 1-6, 1-6 to top seed Sunil Kumar.


BOYS’ SINGLES (2nd round): Sunil Kumar (Ind) bt Samrat Ghosh (Ind) 6-1, 6-1; Karan Rastogi (Ind) bt Nipun Gupta (Ind) 6-2, 6-2; Rishi Behl (Ind) bt Alamgir Wali (Ind) 6-4, 6-2; Gusti P. Ngurah (Ina) bt Vivek Chandrasekar (Ind) 6-1, 6-4; Shivang Mishra (Ind) bt Chigateri Tejeshwar (Ind) 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4); Md Al Nabhani (Oman) bt Nikesh Singh (Ind) 6-3, 7-5; Ivan Kokunn (Uzb) bt Sratha Saengsuwam (Tha) 5-7, 6-4, 1-0 (conceded); Nishank Mishra (Ind) bt Justin Daniel Seow (Mas) 6-0, 6-0; Rohan Gajjar (Ind) bt Vikramaditya Menon (Ind) 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2); Arun Prakash (Ind) bt P. Vikas (Ind) 6-1, 6-1; Vikrant Sane (Ind) bt Manoj Sewa (Ind) 6-3, 5-7, 7-5; Amanjot Singh (Ind) bt Somdev Varman (Ind) 6-0, 7-6 (7-5); C.S. Mohanty bt A. Karunakarari (Ind) 7-5, 6-4; C. Singh bt John Siefke (US) 6-4, 6-3; Jiunn Yan (Mas) bt Jaco T. Mathew (Ind) 2-6, 6-4, 6-2; Vinod Sewa bt Sabyasachi Bose (Ind) 6-1, 6-1.

GIRLS’ SINGLES, 1st round: Julianne Welford (Aus) bt Devanshi Rajgarhia (Ind) 6-1, 6-0; Tanya Ahuja (Ind) bt Sharmistha Chaudhuri (Ind) 6-0, 7-5; Sandy Gumulya (Ina) bt Priyanka Parekh (Ind) 6-3, 6-0; Jessica Hoath (Aus) bt Nivedita Venkatesh (Ind) 6-3, 2-6, 6-1; Maya Rosa bt Preeti Rao (Ind) 6-1, 6-3; Ragini Vimal (Ind) bt Pooja Mitra (Ind) 6-0, 6-1; Reddhina Parekh (Ind) bt Soma Banerjee (Ind) 6-1, 6-0; Samrita Sekar (Ind) bt Nansi Jhama (Ind) 6-1, 6-2; Nidya Septi Yutami bt Kartika Halim (Ina) 6-1, 2-6, 6-2; Thukkalindi Yamini (Ind) bt Sharanya Pattabi (Ind) 6-3, 6-3.


Calcutta, Feb. 6: 
Pradipta Majumdar with five wickets for 35 runs helped Wari AC beat Mohunlal Club by 120 runs in a CAB 1st division league match today.


Wari AC 310/6 in 75 ovs. Mohunlal Club 190 in 62.5 ovs (Amarjit Jha 54; Pradipta Majumdar 5/35, Srimanta Hazra 3/35). Wari won by 120 runs.

Ananda Bazar 255. Sporting Union 256/5 (Probir Mukherjee 78, Ritesh Jain 47 n.o., Subhasish Das 42, Subhankar Das 42; Indrajit Banerjee 3/66). Sporting Union won by 5 wkts.

Hardip hits five

Hardip Singh scored five goals including in Khalsa Blues’ 8-0 thrashing of Muslim Institute in the BHA 1st division ‘B’ League today. Brijnath Kujur netted two while Jagat Singh scored one.

The other tie between Police AC and Baranagore SC, to be played at the Mohun Bagan ground, had to be cancelled. The club is yet to prepare the ground.


Calcutta, Feb. 6: 
The Asian chess championship, to be held here tentatively in March, will throw up 19 qualifiers for the next world meet. P.T. Ummer Koya, All India Chess Federation secretary and Fide vice-president, said today that the championship gains importance with the prize purse being an impressive $ 50,000.

The Fide website open access will throw up six qualifiers. The total pool for the championship has ben set at 129.


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