Carlsen crowned king in chess’s golden era
CHESS is hardly renowned for quickfire action but there was plenty of it on Wednesday in London when Norway’s Magnus Carlsen retained his world title by defeating Fabiano Caruana 3-0 in a series of tie-breaker matches where each player was only given 25 minutes to make all their moves.
The 27-year-old Carlsen is regarded as perhaps the finest chess player of alltime (his peak Grand Master Rating of 2882 is the highest in history) yet he was pushed all the way by Caruana in what was the first world championship series to see nothing but draws, thus forcing the tie-breaker.
Caruana, who’s a year younger, was the first American to compete for the title since the legendary Bobby Fischer in 1972. Miami-born, he’d previously played for his parents’ home country of Italy before switching allegiance two years ago. Chess has never been stronger with 17 of the 18 all-time highest ratings having been achieved in the last ten years. It seems a pity the reigning world champion is only challenged biennially.
SPURS and Arsenal both face into today’s North London derby in much better shape than you’d have imagined at the start of the season. It’s not the first time Spurs have defied the prophets of relative doom under Mauricio Pochettino who really seemed up against it when heavily outspent in the close season by all his rivals for a place in the top four.
But a week when Spurs ended Chelsea’s unbeaten record with a 3-1 win and then kept their Champions League hopes alive with a win over Inter Milan has shown how foolish it is to underestimate the Argentinian and his players.
Unai Emery has also exceeded expectations at Arsenal. When the Gunners lost their first two Premier League games it suggested that a difficult rebuilding process lay ahead of the former Paris Saint-Germain manager. Yet Arsenal bring an 18-match unbeaten run in all competitions into today’s match and look strong contenders for a return to the Champions League next season.
Bet they wish Arsene Wenger had retired a bit sooner.
PORTLAOISE have endured some agony in the Leinster club football championship. Three years ago they missed a string of chances and lost the final to a last-minute point by a Ballyboden St Enda’s team which later won the All-Ireland. Last year they were three points up with ten minutes to go in the semi-final against Moorefield but lost to a point in the fourth minute of injury-time.
Last Sunday Portlaoise were three points down in a terrific semi against Kilmacud Crokes when awarded a penalty in the first minute of injury-time. Craig Rogers’ shot was saved by Crokes ’keeper David Nestor. Portlaoise’s late suffering hasn’t been confined to the Leinster Championship. Two years ago they were beaten in their county final by a last-minute Stradbally goal.
Consistently one of the country’s most attractive teams, they must suspect somebody up there has it in for them.