Starting with CHESS today for the worst case of trash-talking blowing up in one’s face since the Kids in the Hall bar-fight sketch …
Defending U.S. chess champ Hikaru Nakamura couldn’t have made it more obvious that he saw a weak link in the 2010 championships’ final four. Via the St. Louis Chess Club Twitter feed: “Pretty much when me, Gata and Alex play each other we play solid, and we all try to beat Yury.”
That would be Yury Shulman, who turned around and beat Nakamura the next day. His match with Gata Kamsky this afternoon, which you can follow live from 3 p.m. ET, will determine the new champion. (Unless they draw and go to a tiebreaker.) Nakamura will face Alex Onischuk in what has become a mere consolation game.
We have a few more stray items today: The French Open is underway, NCAA tennis continues (see below) and darts’ Premier League was postponed until today due to a power failure.
The weekend wrap:
- Tour of California: Friday’s big mountain stage didn’t make a dent in any of the overall leaders. That left everything riding on Saturday’s time trial, where Aussie Michael Rogers finished second behind non-contender (and HTC-Columbia teammate) Tony Martin to pad his overall lead to nine seconds over third-place David Zabriskie. Three-time champion Levi Leipheimer lost more time and remained in third. The final stage had some intrigue, but the contenders finished together, confirming Rogers’ win. (Velo News)
- Giro d’Italia: Overshadowed by Floyd Landis’ confession/accusation last week was Stage 11 of the Giro, The Day The Peloton Said “Oops!” A big breakaway gained too much time on everyone else amid confusion, illness and finger-pointing among and between teams that neglected to pull back enough time to prevent a big shakeup in the standings. Over the weekend, the usual suspects moved back up the standings, with Ivan Basso (back from two-year doping suspension) third and Cadel Evans fourth. American Tyler Farrar, who had won two stages and had the lead in the red jersey (points) standings, dropped out.
- Champions League: Inter Milan 2, Bayern Munich 0. Not a bad final considering the nerves that always make such big games so difficult.
- Mexico: Toluca wins its seventh championship in 13 years (25 seasons) on penalty kicks over Santos Laguna. Other winners over that span (1998 onward): Pachuca (5), Pumas (3), Club America (2), Santos (2), Monterrey (2), Necaxa, Morelia, Chivas, Atlante. Santos should’ve won it from the spot, but Toluca now has a title that ought to (but won’t) silence the scoffing of Mexico’s alleged “big clubs.” (BigSoccer)
- Women’s: USA 4, Germany 0. Hope Solo made a couple of good saves, but this was a dominant performance.
- Ice hockey: Czech Republic 2, Russia 1 in men’s World Championship, ending Russia’s win streak at 27 games. Jaromir Jagr had a key play to defeat Alex Ovechkin and Semyon Varlamov, further extending the misery of us Capitals fans. (AP)
- Track and field: Big Diamond League winners were David Oliver (110 hurdles), Lashinda Demus (400 hurdles), Carmelita Jeter (100) and some guy named Usain Bolt (200). (Universal Sports)
- Beach volleyball: The FIVB tournament in Rome provided the best opportunity of the weekend, other than the USA-Germany soccer game, to break out the “USA!” chant. Jen Kessy and April Ross are on the kind of roll not seen since Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh’s pre-maternity days, and Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser won their 10th international event. May-Treanor and Nicole Branagh finished fourth. (Universal Sports)
- Men’s lacrosse (quarterfinals): Top-seeded Virginia, somehow managing to focus while a player is in jail awaiting charges in the slaying of women’s player, beat Stony Brook 10-9 and will face Duke, which beat North Carolina with surprising ease. The other side of the draw is an upset special, seventh-seeded Cornell vs. unseeded Notre Dame, but the Virginia-Duke winner is guaranteed to make the final a media circus.
- Women’s lacrosse (quarterfinals): Virginia, mourning the loss of teammate Yeardley Love, lost to North Carolina in a quarterfinal that may be better remembered for the sportsmanship than the result. Third-seeded North Carolina next faces second-seeded Northwestern, while top seed Maryland faces unseeded Syracuse.
- Women’s softball (regional stage): No. 7 Texas, No. 8 Georgia Tech and No. 12 LSU were the upset victims in the regionals; BYU, Oregon and Louisiana-Lafayette advanced at their expense.
- Men’s tennis (round of 16/quarterfinals): Yet another sport in which Virginia is a top contender: The top-seeded Cavaliers are in the semifinals against #5 Southern Cal. No. 2 Tennessee faces No. 11 Georgia, which is getting a boost from playing at home in beautiful Athens, Ga.
- Women’s tennis (quarterfinals): More semifinal appearances for Notre Dame (fifth seed, vs. No. 8 Stanford) and North Carolina (second seed, vs. No. 3 Florida). Carolina edged Duke 4-3.