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Ranindu, Nethmi crowned king and queen

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National Chess Championship 2020

Sixteen year old Ranindu Liyanage of Ananda College, Colombo and Nethmi Fernando of Girls High School won the men’s and women’s titles respectively of the National Chess Championship at Hotel Taj Samudra on Monday.

Ranindu who was playing excellent chess from the start concluded with a total of 10 ½ points (out of possible thirteen). Young Ranindu’s only defeat was at the hands of C.C. Weerasinghe during the penultimate round. His results included three draws against L.M.S.T. de Silva, Lakshitha Randil and Gayantha Dissanayake. He was victorious against all others. Ranindu received a cash award of Rs. 100,000.00, a Trophy and a Gold medal.

Nethmi, meanwhile scored 10 points for her title. She had an excellent start in the first half of the event scoring 6 ½ points in seven games. She had a disappointing start to the second half, suffering back to back defeats at the hands of Sandeepani Tharushi and Newanji Hewawasam but came back fighting to score 3 ½ out of four in the last four rounds. Nethmi, who is also 16 received a cash award of Rs. 60,000.00 apart from the Gold medal and the Trophy.

The National Chess Championship 2020 started on September 11 was conducted by the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka. Holger Seubert, the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany was the Chief Guest at the closing ceremony which was also attended by Sandamali Aviruppola, Principal, Visakha Vidyalaya, Luxman Wijesuriya, the President CFSL and Deepthi Hewageegana, the Deputy President.

Minul Doluweera of Royal College, Colombo also had a memorable event where he scored 10 points out of a total of 13. The dual between Doluweera and Liyanage was crucial as it seperated the winner and the runners up. Doluweera had to satisfy with the Silver medal. He played an exciting game with International Master, Romesh Weerawardena in the final round where a position of famous mating net arrived after Minul’s 21st move.

Fourteen year old, Susal de Silva of Nalanda College won the Bronze medal in the Nationals. Theekshana Denuwan(16) of Ananda College performed well to be placed fourth, while International Master Romesh Weerawardane secured the fifth position.

After losing her first three games of the event Sandeepani Tharushi of Devi Balika came back strongly to score 9 ½ points with Ashvini Pavalachandran of Wicherly International School. Sandeepani got the Silver Medal on the better tie breaker and Ashvini the bronze. Tharushi Niklesha of Visakha Vidyalaya and Women International Master Sachini Ranasinghe were placed fourth and fifth respectively.

The Chess Federation presented a cash award of Rs. 250,000.00 to the Sri Lankan Chess Hero, Master Harshana Thilakarathne of Maliyadeva College who reach the 2400 FIDE Ranking and received the International Master Title from FIDE, the World Chess Federation. He reached this ranking 36 years after FIDE Master Harsha Aturupane reached that level in 1986. Since the CFSL had invited all National Champions of Sri Lanka, former stars such as Aturupane and Harinlal Aturupane and Suneetha Wijesuriya were present at the Awards.

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Sri Lanka to play at Bull Ring and Centurion

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The Wanderers also known as the Bull Ring for its intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams will host the New Year Test.  Sri Lanka have played two Tests there and lost both – by innings margin.

by Rex Clementine

Cricket South Africa (CSA) seem to have learned from their embarrassment last year, when Sri Lanka became the first Asian nation to win a Test series in South Africa and have left no room for complacency when they host Dimuth Karunaratne’s side in December this year. Accordingly, CSA has chosen Wanderers in Johannesburg (also known as the Bull Ring for its intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams) and Centurion for the two Tests.

While officially CSA would say that logistically the two venues, half-hour drive from each other, were ideal to host the two Test series, they are also the quickest tracks in South Africa and Asian teams usually don’t  last three days in those venues.

Sri Lanka for example have played two Tests at Wanderers and have lost both games by innings margin with the two games ending inside three days. At Centurion, meanwhile, Sri Lanka have played four Tests and lost all four (two games by an innings).

The blunder that CSA committed last time Sri Lanka toured South Africa was to schedule the games in the slowest tracks in the country – Durban and Port Elizabeth. That backfired as Sri Lanka clinched the series 2-0. Test match cricket is such a tough game in South Africa, that apart from England and Australia no other team had won a series in that country and Sri Lanka’s achievement surprised many.

Several members of the current squad have unhappy memories of Wanderers and Centurion and they will not be pleased that the games had been slotted there.

The team will stay in one hotel during their month long stay in South Africa and will shuttle between the grounds which are in close proximity to each other. Centurion will host the Boxing Day Test while the Wanderers will host the New Year Test.

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Wickramasinghe comes up with guidelines to train during the pandemic

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Training programmes of a number of top track and field athletes were interrupted at various training venues due to Covid 19 concerns last week. Some of the interruptions were reported in areas where no new Covid 19 positive cases were reported. With the second wave of pandemic starting to disrupt daily life, sports training too is set to suffer badly. But senior track and field coach Upali Wickramasinghe believes that training can proceed without an interruption even during the pandemic by changing the coaching or training style.

Wickramasinghe in his instructions for coaching during the Covid 19 pandemic lists out important guidelines to follow during training, pre training and post training.

Being equipped with a clearance certificate issued by health authorities and submitting parental consent with regard to training juniors will help avoid disappointments at venue entrances according to Wickramasinghe. Sanitizing participants and checking their temperature are the other prerequisites before starting training.

Maintaining social distancing, limiting the training to small groups or individuals, avoiding physical contact (no high-fives, no handshakes) and prohibiting of spitting and clearing of nasal respiratory secretion are the instructions for sportsmen engaged in non contact sports.

Training can be continued even for minimal contact games by classifying training areas into three or four and sticking to training partners and avoiding body blocking.

Training for full body contact games can be done by focusing more on promoting individual skills and technique, utilizing alternative practice equipment, prohibiting sharing of personal equipment and making sanitization mandatory even during training.

Disinfection of training equipment like javelin, shot put, relay batons, shuttlecocks and balls is a major requirement immediately after training. Wickramasinghe also advices participants to exit venues immediately after their training schedules are completed. He also advices not to share personal equipment like rackets, helmets shin – guards, water bottles and T – Shirts.

A former national athlete, Upali Wickramasinghe has been in the field of coaching after his retirement as a Major in the Sri Lanka Army. He has produced a number of top national athletes and was the first coach of Olympian Anuradha Indrajith Cooray, who holds the Sri Lanka National record in the men’s marathon. (RF)

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Sri Lanka to take 20 players to South Africa

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Left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando outperformed South African quicks Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn during Sri Lanka’s tour to South Africa in 2019 as they won the series 2-0. Here he traps Francois Du Plessis leg before wicket.

by Rex Clementine

Cricket South Africa has  come up with one of  the simplest health guidelines in these testing times and it could turn out to be  the  blueprint other sporting bodies will follow in conducting international sporting events.  The Sri Lankan team will be in South Africa in December for the Boxing Day Test and New Year Test and they will not be required to go through lengthy quarantine periods.  All what the players need is a negative PCR report before boarding the flight to Johannesburg and another negative report upon landing in Oliver Tambo International Airport.

Two negative reports are good enough for players to resume training immediately within the team bubble. The method is quite a contrast to what other countries follow. Sri Lanka’s mandatory 14 day quarantine period resulted in the Test series against Bangladesh being postponed.

The Sri Lankan team will not be given any warm-up games although they are expected to be in South Africa for two weeks prior to the Boxing Day Test match.  With the team in a bubble, net bowlers also will not be provided and hence Sri Lanka will be carrying 20 players in the squad. This avoids the risk of last minute replacements being called up due to injuries as well.

CSA is yet to announce the venues for the tour. England who will be in South Africa prior to Sri Lanka will be secluded in Cape Town and nearby Paarl. England will play three ODIs and three T-20 Internationals in South Africa.

This series will mark Sri Lanka’s return to international cricket after the outbreak of the pandemic in March this year. This year was supposed to be full of international cricket for SLC with several bilateral series at home including tours by India and England that bring much needed television revenue. SLC was also set to host this year’s Asia Cup but all that now has been pushed back due to the pandemic. SLC officials are confident that they will be able to reschedule all postponed series within the next 18 months.

SLC is expected to host England in January next year for two Tests. The national cricket team will then undertake a tour of West Indies.

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