Anand crushes Mamedyarov for second win in three games
Five-time world champion Viswanthan Anand continued his fine form and crashed through the defences of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan to notch up his second successive win in the Candidates Chess tournament in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia, on Saturday.
Not many experts had given Anand a chance coming in to Candidates after he lost the World championship match against Magnus Carlsen of Norway in November.
However, not only has the Indian proved his critics wrong but has also emerged as a serious contender even though it is still early days in the 14-round tournament.
With 2.5 points in his kitty from the first three games, Anand is likely to be joined by Peter Svidler of Russia in the lead. Svidler enjoyed a commanding position against compatriot Vladimir Kramnik in their match.
The other two games in the eight-player double round robin tournament ended in draws. Former world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria missed out on his chances against top seed Levon Aronian of Armenia while Dmitry Andreikin signed peace with fellow Russian Sergey Karjakin after playing solidly as white.
With 11 rounds still to come, Topalov and Aronian are on 1.5 points and Kramnik has the same score with a game in hand. Andreikin and Karjakin both have one point from three outings and Mamedyarov is currently at the bottom with just a half point in his kitty so far.
The fact that the victory came with black pieces was icing on the cake for Anand. Playing the Modern variation in the Slav defense, Anand had little trouble equalising out of the opening and Mamedyarov was also looking at dynamic possibilities after losing the previous round.
It was in the early middle game itself that Anand sensed his chances. Mamedyarov could not find any way to improve other than king side pawn advances and that met with a timely breakthrough by Anand leaving weaknesses on white's king side.
On move 24, Anand deployed his queen in an attacking position and Mamedyarov realised that he was already much worse. The pressure got to the Azeri Grandmaster sooner than expected as he caved in through a blunder on the 26th move itself. Anand wrapped the issue in 31 moves.
Image: Viswanathan Anand
Photographs: Patrik Stollarz/Getty Images
Sports shorts: Saina loses while Sindhu stuns Shixian
Star Indian shuttler P V Sindhu came up with a sensational performance.
The giant slayer P V Sindhu stunned the recently-crowned All England champion Shixian Wang to breeze into the semifinals even as it was end of road for Saina Nehwal at the $125,000 Swiss Grand Prix Gold in Basel.
In the men's singles, Parupalli Kashyap also booked a semifinal berth with a hard-fought victory over sixth seed Tien Chen Chou of Chinese Taipei.
Seventh seed Sindhu played a dominating game to assert her supremacy over two-time All England Champion with a 21-17, 21-15 win in a 45-minute match to set up a semifinal clash with another fast emerging Chinese Sun Yu.
It was Sindu's third win over Shixian in as many matches. Last year she had humbled the Chinese at the World Championship in the quarterfinals.
However, Olympic bronze medallist Saina had a tough time dealing with the world number three Yihan Wang as she slipped to a 17-21, 2-21, her seventh defeat to a Chinese, in a 38-minute match.
Kashyap, meanwhile, took an hour and 14 minutes to tame Tien 21-15, 21-23, 21-18 -- his second win against the Taiwanese -- and would face World No 27 Houwei Tian of China in the semifinals.
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Image: Saina Nehwal, left and P V Sindhu
Photographs: Indian Badminton League
West Brom sack Anelka for gross misconduct
West Bromwich Albion have given French striker Nicolas Anelka notice they are terminating his contract for gross misconduct, the English Premier League club said in a statement on Friday.
Anelka, who was given a five-match ban by the FA following his controversial 'quenelle' salute during a match on December 28, had earlier said on Twitter he was quitting the Midlands team.
"The club considers the conduct of Nicolas Anelka on December 28, coupled with his purported termination on social media this evening, to be gross misconduct," West Brom said.
"As a result the club has tonight written to Nicolas Anelka giving him 14 days' notice of termination as required under his contract," they added on their website (www.wba.co.uk).
Anelka, who turned 35 on Friday, made the 'quenelle' salute, which is associated with anti-Semitic sentiments, when he scored the first of his two goals in a 3-3 draw in a league game at West Ham United's Upton Park ground.
Earlier on Friday, the former France striker tweeted that he was quitting the club but West Brom said they had not received any official notification of his intention to end his contract.
"Following my talks with the club I've been told I could be back in the squad under certain conditions that I can't agree," Anelka said on his Twitter account (@anelkaofficiel).
"As I want to preserve my integrity I've decided to free myself and to put an end to my contract with WBA with immediate effect."
West Brom responded with a statement saying: "... Nicolas Anelka is unwilling to agree to the conditions set by it (the club) which may have enabled his suspension to be lifted and for him to resume training.
"These conditions were, firstly, that the club required (him) to apologise to it, its supporters, sponsors and the wider community for the impact and consequences of his gesture made on December 28, and secondly, that he accept a substantial fine.
"Nicolas Anelka's purported termination of his Premier League contract this evening via social media was invalid as this was not conducted under the correct legal process as required by his contract."
West Brom, fourth from bottom of the table and one place above the relegation zone on goal difference, had earlier criticised Anelka for a lack of professionalism.
"The club notes Nicolas Anelka's comments on Twitter this evening. However the club has received nothing formally regarding the termination of Nicolas Anelka's contract from either him or his advisers.
"The club regards the release of such a statement on social media as highly unprofessional...
"The club confirms it has been continuing discussions with Nicolas Anelka and his advisers as part of its own internal enquiry into the gesture he made...," added West Brom.
"Following the conclusion of the FA's enquiry into the same incident the club had hoped to conclude its own investigations next week."
Image: Nicolas Anelka
Photographs: Christopher Lee/Getty Images