Young Indian IM Leon Luke Mendonca emerged victorious in the Skalicky chess festival in Slovakia, with 7.5 points from nine rounds in the tournament.
The Goa-based player (Elo rating 2472) remained unbeaten through the nine rounds and notched up six wins including one over higher-rated Pier Liugi Bosso (Italy, Elo 2600) in the sixth round. The other wins for Mendonca came against Marek Pniaczek (Poland), Alexndr Skalsky (Czech Republic), Marcin Molenda (Poland), Thomas Dionisi (France) and Harry Grieve (England). He had three draws in the tournament. The 14-year-old Mendonca drew his last round game against Matyas Marek (Czech Republic) to pip Jan Vykouk (Czech Republic) for the title by a half a point.
"Extremely happy! I am delighted to win the tournament and hope to keep improving my rating and become a GM soon," he said, adding the win over Basso was his best game in the event. Mendonca had claimed second position in the Paracin Open in Serbia July and earlier in June won the open section at the Balaton Chess festival in Budapest. Mendonca had left for Moscow in February along with his father to play in the Aeroflot Open which featured several other Indian players and headed to Budapest after an event in Vietnam got postponed due to the coronavirus and got held up there due to the travel restrictions. He has since been in Europe playing tournaments in his quest for GM norms.
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Tiger Woods struggled to a one-over par 71 in Sunday's final round of the PGA BMW Championship, looking to improve shotmaking and reduce mistakes before next month's US Open. The 15-time major winner and reigning Masters champion finished 72 holes at Olympia Fields in suburban Chicago on 11-over 291, the first time since the 2010 WGC Bridgestone Invitational he shot four rounds over par in an event. "I played a little bit better today, which is nice," Woods said. "I didn't finish the round off like I wanted to, but I played better than I did the first three days." Woods was 2-under through 14 holes but a bogey at the par-5 15th and double bogey after finding water off the tee at the par-4 17th dimmed the thrill of his low round of the week.
World number 17 Woods hit only nine of 14 fairways and just 13 of 18 greens in regulation on a course that played like a US Open layout with fast greens and dense rough. "Today was more indicative of how I want to play in a couple weeks," Woods said, looking ahead to the US Open on September 17-20 at Winged Foot in suburban New York. Woods failed to qualify for the final US PGA playoff event next week at East Lake in Atlanta and said he won't play the week before the US Open, so the BMW was his last tuneup, with workouts set to emphasize leaving the ball in better places even after errant shots. Asked his biggest focus ahead of the US Open, Woods said, "I would say trying to clean up my rounds and trying to miss the golf ball in the correct spots. I haven't done that." The 44-year-old veteran of multiple back surgeries says back pain and stiffness remain constant issues. "It aches every day. It's always going to ache and always going to be stiff," he said. "That's just part of the deal."
Balancing competitive rounds against the need to rest his body, Woods faces uncertainty about his schedule before he defending the Masters green jacket in November after COVID-19 forced a postponement from April. "I'd much rather have rest than rust," Woods said. "Trying to figure out the schedule going forward, when to ramp up, no one has ever seen a schedule like this, but it's one we all have to deal with." The US PGA Tour has already moved the CJ Cup from South Korea to Las Vegas in October and the following week's event, the Zozo Championship that Woods won last year in Japan, could be shifted to a US course as well, according to multiple reports.
"This has been a year which no one would have expected with all the things that have gone on -- with the virus and work stoppage, figuring out when we're going to play and where we're going to play," Woods said. "It has been a year we would like to forget but this is our new reality going forward." This year's Zozo is set to be three weeks before the Masters, the same gap as the BMW before the US Open. Woods won his 82nd career US PGA title last year at the Zozo, matching Sam Snead's all-time tour wins record. Also in the 2019-20 season, Woods was a player-captain for the triumphant US team at the Presidents Cup last December in Australia. His only other top-10 PGA effort was a share of ninth at Torrey Pines in January.
Australian rider Caleb Ewan produced an irresistible late burst of speed to pip a stunned Sam Bennett of Ireland on the finish line of stage three of the Tour de France on Monday. France's Julian Alaphilippe retained the leader's yellow jersey after the 198-kilometre stage from the Nice football stadium to the hilltop town of Sisteron in Provence. Ewan, 26, won three stages on the 2019 Tour but started this edition on his backside after a fall on the crash-strewn opening stage. Ewan, known as the pocket rocket and standing 1.65 metres, bided his time and overtook Bennett right on the line. The timely win gave Lotto a double boost after the team was reduced from eight to six riders on stage one when Philippe Gilbert broke a knee while John Degenkolb was thrown off the race for being too slow.
"It worked perfectly to plan, I had to move just at the right moment. It was disappointing to lose two riders on day one, but everyone has pulled together and we've done quite well," Ewan said. "The world is watching and everyone would like to be here at this, it's the biggest race in the world and I'm delighted." After a rampaging climax to Sunday's race provided by Alaphilippe, this stage was a more leisurely run through a national park located between the Mediterranean and the foot of the Alps, winding through oak and pine-forested hills. With around a third of the peloton nursing grazes and bumps from that bruising first stage, and with Sunday's speedy stage in their legs, the teams took it slowly before the Tour was treated to its first real sprint. "Today was one of the few real sprint opportunities, so we weren't going to give that up," Ewan said after stepping from the podium.
Despite the Covid-19 resurgence in France the roadsides in this pastoral part of France were packed with fans on Tuesday. Schoolchildren were out in force chasing the sweets and goodies thrown from the publicity caravan, which is about 70 percent smaller this year, and many were cheering home hero Alaphilippe.
"Winning yesterday really relaxed me," said Alaphilippe. "It's a great honour to wear the jersey and I'll be defending it day by day." Tuesday's stage features a summit finish and a tricky hill-laden route from Sisteron to Orcieres where Alaphilippe faces a real fight from British rider Adam Yates for the overall lead. Just four second separates the two after stage three. "I know it'll be interesting with Adam Yates tomorrow," said Alaphilippe, who now surpasses former winner Geraint Thomas in days wearing the yellow jersey.
"It's a difficult stage, I hear. I havent really studied it yet, but we'll keep an eye on him (Yates)," Alaphilippe added. Yates, who has signed a deal to switch to Ineos, came fourth in the 2016 Tour de France where he also won the white jersey for the best under-25 rider. Frenchman Anthony Lopez broke a shoulder in a collision with a Cofidis team car that is being investigated, but amazingly, given how many falls there have been each day, he was just the fourth of the original field of 176 to leave the Tour so far.
Team India's chess captain, Vidit Gujrathi, is on cloud nine after leading a 12-member team to its maiden gold medal, jointly shared with Russia in the 2020 Online Chess Olympiad on Sunday. Both nations were declared winners by the game's world governing body, FIDE, after a disconnection with the server led to the Indians losing momentum in the final.
"This win is a historic move up for Indian chess," said Grand Master Gujrathi, 25, a Nashik resident and the youngest Indian to enter the 2700 Elo club (rating system) two years ago. India's best finish at the Olympiad till date was a bronze medal won in 2014.
"This was a total team effort. In nearly every match, both the junior and senior players rose to the occasion to put their best foot forward," added Gujrathi, who has a current world ranking of 24 and is No. 3 in the country.
India were seeded seventh at the event with an average rating of 2419 and placed in Pool A alongside formidable teams like China and Georgia apart from Vietnam, Germany, Iran, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Mongolia and Zimbabwe. As per the event's rules, each team had to include one male and one female player aged 20 years or less besides its senior male and female members. The top three teams from each of the three pools advanced to the knockouts.
Gujrathi relished the challenge of mentoring the junior members. "Senior players like [Viswanathan] Anand [a five-time World Champion] need not be told anything but you need to constantly interact with juniors. You have to mentor them. Decision-making and problem solving are some of the core areas you need to focus on as captain," explained Gujrathi, who has been practising at home for seven hours a day during this Coronavirus-caused lockdown.
Meditation is the key to success in such high pressure events, said Gujrathi. "Meditation has always been my way of relaxing. I have been doing it a lot more across the last couple of years. Both, the semi-final [against Poland] and the final, were very high pressure matches in this Olympiad, but my meditative techniques helped me prepare and compete better," said Gujrathi, who began his international career over a decade back by winning the U-12 Commonwealth title followed by a gold medal in the U-14 World Championships.
Born to doctor parents, mum Nikita and dad Santosh, Gujrathi has struggled to get a permanent sponsor despite having enjoyed some support from ONGC and Lakshya foundation over the years. Only recently did he manage to bag permanent sponsorship - a five-year endorsement deal with Black Lotus - a leading meditation app. This has resulted in better performances for the youngster, who is now aiming to make it to the world's Top 10.
So, what does he prefer, traditional chess or this online version? "Professionally, I prefer the traditional format of the game but given the home comfort it offers, the online version is tempting too," he said.
Last year, on his father's 60th birthday, Gujrathi had gifted him a car. This year, the Olympiad final was on his father's 61st birthday and Dr Santosh could not have asked for a better gift than this gold medal.
Team India:Vidit Gujrathi (captain), Viswanathan Anand, Pendyala Harikrishna, Koneru Humpy, Dronavalli Harika, R. Vaishali, Bhakti Kulkarni, Nihal Sarin, R. Praggnanandhaa, Aravindh Chithambaram, R Vaishali, Bhakti Kulkarni, Divya Deshmukh and Vantika Agrawal.
At WWE Payback, Roman Reigns managed to swoop in and pick up the pieces after 'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt and 'The Monster" Braun Strowman laid waste to each other, achieving victory in the main event in a fashion which is unusual to his character, to reclaim the Universal Title that he never lost.
For much of the match, though, Roman Reigns was nowhere to be found, having not even signed the contract to be part of the No Holds Barred Triple Threat Match at Payback. Braun Strowman blindsided Bray Wyatt with the lights still off during 'The Fiend's' entrance and also kicked out of a Sister Abigail by his diabolical rival a few moments later.
'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt makes a demonic entrance
As is often the case, the ring could not contain the two behemoths. Bray Wyatt slammed Braun Strowman through the announce table with a Uranage before being floored by a flying broadcast chair hurled by 'The Monster.' The all-out melee progressed to the stage area, where Strowman sent The Fiend flying off the stage in a massive collision.
'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman fight at ringside
With the action finally returning to the squared circle, The Fiend delivered a brilliant Herculean superplex to send the WWE official soaring out of the ring, which collapsed and was left in shambles.
The ring implodes after 'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt delivers a superplex to Braun Strowman
Finally, 'The Big Dog' Roman Reigns arrived with Paul Heyman. Finally signing on the dotted line, Reigns headed to the ring and began a steel chair assault on Strowman, much like he had at SummerSlam a week earlier. The Fiend caught The Big Dog with the Mandible Claw before Reigns kicked the defending WWE Universal champion below the belt to break free before too much damage could be done.
Roman Reigns enters the ring as 'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman lay on the mat
After returning to the ring, Reigns uncorked a massive Spear on Strowman to win the Universal Championship.
Reigns celebrated with Heyman and crystallized their unholy alliance — the sight of which proved to be among the most surreal visuals in WWE history.
Other Payback results:
This was the first time Rey Mysterio and son Dominick fought together as a team
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Turns out the lack of fans isn't the only reason Rory McIlroy has struggled to keep his mind on golf. His wife is expecting their first child any day. McIlroy said he has been sharing the news with friends and family, and then it was disclosed during the NBC broadcast on Saturday and he confirmed it after his 3-over 73 that left him three shots behind at the BMW Championship. "We're around to be parents very soon, so we're obviously super excited," McIlroy said.
"I didn't think it was something that I really particularly needed to share out there. It's a private matter, but we're really excited and can't wait for her to get here." McIlroy said his caddie and best friend, Harry Diamond, has been keeping the phone in his pocket during the round in case he gets the call. And if the call comes, "I'm out of here," he said. That could be Sunday in the final round as he tries to win for the first time this year. He said he could wind up missing the Tour Championship, although he would be helped by the Friday start next week at East Lake. He met his wife, Erica, in the Chicago area. She worked for the PGA of America and was involved in helping get McIlroy to Medinah before the Sunday singles match in the 2012 Ryder Cup when he nearly missed his tee time because he got mixed up on the time zones. They began dating a few years later and were married in April 2017.
"I think from the get-go my mind has been wandering the last few weeks, and now you guys sort of know the reason why," he said. "You're going out to play and maybe not knowing whether you're going to finish the round or not. Look, it's definitely not an excuse. I just haven't played well enough. "But again, I keep talking about perspective. If you do play bad, I've got some awesome stuff coming up on the horizon, which is really cool, and it makes the bad days a lot easier to handle." Saturday was a rough one as he tries to bounce back from a 73 that left him three shots behind Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama, all while trying to make up ground in the FedEx Cup for the Tour Championship. That's if he even plays. McIlroy has a chance to become the first three-time winner of the FedEx Cup. "I'm going to play in many more Tour Championships and it's only going to be the birth of your first child once," he said. "That trumps anything else."
A year after thrilling his home nation for a fortnight on last year's Tour de France, Julian Alaphilippe produced an almost carbon-copy capture of a stage win Sunday to claim the overall leader's yellow jersey again. On the day's final climb Alaphilippe launched a blistering attack to clinch bonus seconds at the summit before a white-knuckle descent to the finish line in Nice where the second stage victory also gave him bonus seconds.
Delirious with joy at his repeat performance former soldier Alaphilippe began punching towards the sky, as he turned to see just how close behind him the onrushing peloton was to overtaking his escape trio on the Promenade des Anglais finish line. The set-up of the second stage was eerily close to how Alaphilippe stole away from the peloton last year on day three to Epernay and eventually led the Tour for 14 days before wilting on the penultimate stage to finish fifth overall. No Frenchman has won the Tour de France since 1985. "I really wanted to try something and I had nothing to lose," said Deceuninck-Quick Step's leader.
"It really hurt me, I was digging deep at the end there," said Alaphilippe, whose tongue was hanging from his mouth as he pushed hard on the final straight. "It's a great pride and responsibility and I will defend this honour day by day, I won't be giving it up tomorrow that's for sure," he promised. "I'm happy now," he concluded when stepping from the podium. Jumbo-Visma may however be furious at the circumstances accompanying the win. Shortly after Alaphilippe's attack Team Ineos' Michal Kwiatkowski somehow backed into Jumbo co-captain Tom Dumoulin and knocked him to the floor. The Dutch outfit had been leading the head of the peloton all day, but suddenly they had to slow down and abandon their pursuit of Alaphilippe, who had the Swiss Marc Hirschi and British rider Adam Yates for company on the dash to the line.
Lewis Hamilton stretched his lead in the drivers' world championship and closed to within two wins of Michael Schumacher's Formula One record of 91 on Sunday with a majestic, if ultimately tense, Belgian Grand Prix victory. The series leader and six-time champion registered his 89th career win with another flawless drive to take his fourth Belgian triumph, finishing 8.448 seconds clear of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas. It was Hamilton's fifth win in seven races this year and extended his record run of points-scoring races to 40. Max Verstappen came third for Red Bull, seven seconds further adrift, to claim his sixth podium finish in succession.
Hamilton, who had to nurse his car home on worn tyres, has 157 points in the title race, 47 clear of Verstappen. The 'black arrows' lead the constructors' championship with 264 points, well ahead of Red Bull on 158. "It wasn't the easiest of races," said Hamilton. "It was a bit of a struggle, but nonetheless I think it was ok in the end." At the British Grand Prix at the start of August, Hamilton had clung on to win after one of his tyres disintegrated. "I was concerned that we'd have a scenario like Silverstone, but the tyre seemed to have quite a bit of rubber left on it at the finish." Bottas admitted he could not match his team-mate's pace. "The start was a good opportunity, but Lewis played it really well and I just couldn't catch him. In the same car, with Lewis driving a flawless race, it was really difficult." Verstappen said he had a dull afternoon.
"It was pretty boring, not very interesting and not much to do," he said. "I ran out of tyre at the end so I was just stretching it out and saving the tyres." Daniel Ricciardo produced the fastest lap on his final lap as he claimed fourth ahead of his Renault team-mate Esteban Ocon, and Alex Albon, in the second Red Bull. Lando Norris was seventh in the sole McLaren. Pierre Gasly finished eighth for Alpha Tauri ahead of the Racing Points of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez. On a troubled weekend, last year's winner Charles Leclerc was 14th, one place behind outgoing Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
On a cool dry day in the Ardennes, the race was preceded by drama and ceremony with Carlos Sainz's McLaren suffering an exhaust failure that ruled him out and then a minute's silence, in memory of French F2 racer Anthoine Hubert, and the now-familiar drivers' anti-racism demonstration before the national anthem. Hamilton made a smooth start from his record 93rd pole position ahead of Bottas while Verstappen fought to defend third position against Ricciardo. Bottas chased Hamilton in vain, the champion controlling his advantage with imperious speed in the early laps as they pulled clear of the rest. "We have one push now?" asked Bottas. "Yes, but we agreed not to use it against each other," replied Mercedes.
"I've never heard of that," replied the clearly miffed Finn, who had said on Saturday that he would attack his team-mate to keep alive his own title bid. The safety car came out on lap 11 after a collision involving Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell of Williams. The Italian spun into the barriers in front of the Briton whose car was hit by an errant rear wheel as he took evasive action. The damaged cars left debris strewn across the circuit, but the drivers walked away unhurt. "I'm ok," said Russell on team radio. "Nowhere I could go, guys." The leaders pitted immediately, Bottas only just returning ahead of Verstappen after a slow stop. Ferrari appeared unready when Leclerc pitted, another issue in a bleak weekend that saw their drivers bump wheels in a scrap for 12th. After the re-start, Bottas closed to nine-tenths briefly, on lap 17, but Hamilton raised his pace and was gone.
India and Russia were on Sunday declared joint winners of the 2020 Online Chess Olympiad after the final was marred by internet disconnection and server malfunction. Russia were initially declared winners after two Indian players -- Nihal Sarin and Divya Deshmukh -- lost out on time in the final after suffering a disconnection with the server. India lodged a protest against the controversial decision which was reviewed. This was the first time FIDE, the international chess federation, was holding the Olympiad in an online format, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an official statement, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich said the the global internet outage severely affected several countries, including India so a decision was made only after carefully examination.
"Two of the Indian players have been affected and lost connection, when the outcome of the match was still unclear. The Appeals Committee has examined all the evidence provided by Chess.com, as well as information gathered from other sources about this internet outage. After being informed of their considerations and in absence of an unanimous decision, and taken into account these unprecedented circumstances, as FIDE President I made the decision to award Gold Medals to both teams," Dvorkovich said. Legendary Indian chess player Viswananthan Anand shared his excitement by tweeting, "We are the champions !! Congrats Russia!," the wrote on his twitter handle after the final." The first round of the final ended in a 3-3 draw with all the six games finishing in stalemate. Russia won the second round 4.5-1.5 with wins for Andrey Esipenko over Sarin and Polina Shuvalova over Deshmukh, leading to a controversy as the Indians claimed the losses were due to connection issues. In the second round, Anand, coming in for P Harikrishna, had drawn with Ian Nepomniachtchi while captain Vidit Gujrathi drew with Daniil Dubov.
Koneru Humpy, the world rapid champion, was beaten by Alexandra Goryachkina and D Harika drew with Alexandra Kosteniuk. In the first round matches, Gujrathi drew Nepomniachtchi, while Harikrishna and Vladimir Artemiev shared the honours. In other matches, Humpy and Harika drew with Lagno and Kosteniuk respectively, while young prodigy R Praggnanandhaa and Deshmukh, too, held their opponents. Reacting to the win, Humpy said, "Well it is a bit strange that we lost due to serve failure and our appeal was accepted. Well I can say, we fought till the end." "Joint Champions.. Gold medal it is. First place medal Proud of my whole team #TeamIndia #ChessOlympiad," Harika tweeted after the final. India enjoyed a great run in the tournament, beating among others the powerful Chinese team in the preliminary phase. Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju congratulated the Indian side. "I congratulate our Indian contingent that won the Gold at the @FIDE_chess Online Chess Olympiad. India was declared the joint winner with Russia. My heartiest wishes to all players!," he tweeted.
American singer Jennifer Lopez is disheartened after missing out on a chance to become the first woman co-owner of a Major League Baseball team.
JLo was bidding for ownership of the New York Mets along with her ex-baseball star beau Alex Rodriguez. But on Friday night, they withdrew on hearing that American billionaire Steve Cohen's bid was at least $100 million more than theirs (the J-Rod group).
Alex and JLo were reportedly investing around $300 million (approx R2193 crore) in the venture. On Saturday, the Waiting for Tonight performer wrote to her 130 million Instagram followers: "Alex and I are so disappointed!! We worked so hard the past six months with the dream of becoming the first minority couple and the first woman owner to buy her [my] father's favourite Major League Baseball team with her [my] own hard-earned money. We still haven't given up!! #NY4ever."
Steve is tipped to win the bid.
India's sporting heroes were bestowed the annual national awards in an unparalleled online ceremony amid the COVID-19 pandemic during which athletes logged in from multiple cities to be honoured by President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday. This year a whopping 74 winners were picked for the national honours, including an unprecedented five Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratnas and 27 Arjuna awardees. Of these, 60 attended the virtual ceremony conducted across 11 Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres in various cities.
Cricketers Rohit Sharma (Khel Ratna) and Ishant Sharma (Arjuna) missed out due to their IPL commitments in the UAE, while star wrestler Vinesh Phogat (Khel Ratna) and badminton player Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (Arjuna) had to pull out of the ceremony after testing positive for the dreaded virus. The other three Khel Ratna winners—TT player Manika Batra, Paralympic gold-medallist Mariyappan Thangavelu and women's hockey captain Rani Rampal—attended the ceremony.
While Batra logged in from Pune, Thangavelu and Rampal joined from Bangalore. President Kovind applauded as names of the attending awardees were called out and their achievements were cited as is the convention. Missing, however, was the grandeur of the Rashtrapati Bhavan's Durbar Hall.
The prize money for the Khel Ratna was increased to R25 lakh from the previous amount of R7.5 lakh. Arjuna awardees, 22 of who attended the ceremony, were given R15 lakh, which is R10 lakh more than the previous sum
Lewis Hamilton delivered two successive record breaking qualifying laps to claim his sixth Belgian Grand Prix pole position and a record-increasing 93rd of his career with a flawless demonstration of speed on Saturday. The championship leader clocked a best lap in one minute and 41.252 seconds in the final seconds of a session that he dominated in a personal tribute to the Hollywood film actor Chadwick Boseman, who died on Friday. His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was second, to complete another black arrows front row of the grid, but he was more than half a second adrift of Hamilton's pace. It was Hamilton's fifth pole in seven races this year, a feat he said he had wanted to achieve in memory of Boseman whose life had been an inspiration to Hamilton. "Today was a very, very clean session for me and the end of the lap was getting better and better. We did such a lot of work for this in the background.
"This is a really important pole for me because I woke up to the saddest news of Chadwick passing away... it has been such a heavy year for all of us so it rocked me. I wanted to go out there and drive to perfection because of what he has done for our people and how he has shown young kids what is possible."
Max Verstappen, who trails Hamilton by 37 points in the drivers' title race, took third place for Red Bull ahead of Renault's Daniel Ricciardo, who aborted his final lap, and Alex Albon in the second Red Bull. Esteban Ocon took sixth place in the second Renault ahead of Carlos Sainz of McLaren, the two Racing Points of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, and Lando Norris in the second McLaren.