Weekly sports agenda: NBA Playoffs, Fed Cup semifinals, World Chess Championship

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Among major upcoming sporting events, the NBA Playoffs move into their second and decisive week, in womens' tennis the Fed Cup semifinals take place in Italy and the USA, sailing's Fireball World Championship is in Barbados, and the tussle between two of the finest chess-playing minds commences at the World Chess Championship in Bulgaria.

Basketball: NBA Playoffs
From April 17

The NBA postseason starts on April 17th with sixteen teams aiming for the NBA Finals, twelve of them present in last year's playoffs, and both finalists in the Orlando Jazz and 2009 champions the LA Lakers. Each matchup is a seven game series, and the first four are scheduled in batches over between April 17-26 and any further required games taking place April 26 - May 2. US national TV coverage is split between ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV.

Intellectual: FIDE World Chess Championship 2010
April 21 - May 12
Sofia, Bulgaria

With the face-off proper starting on April 24, 13:00 BST, two of the world's best chess players are competing in a twelve-game match schedule for the WCC's €2 million prize. World number four Veselin Topalov, FIDE World Champion 2005-2006, goes head-to-head with number two and current reigning world champion Vishy Anand. Topalov won the right to challenge Anand after beating world number three Vladimir Kraminik, the then World Champion of the then rival PCA organisation, in qualification. The WCC 2010 games will be broadcast live from the competition's official website.

Sailing: Fireball World Championships
April 24 - May 7

Barbados welcomes some of the best and fastest two-person sailing crews for these World Championships, an annual competitive meet for racers using the Fireball class of sail boat. Small, 16ft length boats with a three panelled hull, these boats are at their stablest when in motion and their highly adjustable rigging means that despite their size, they offer a high degree of customization to crews. Nearly 20% of the FWC's crew members are women, as gender does not confer a competitive advantage. It's also possible to attend as a non-participant, in recognition of sailing's social side - there are plenty of events planned with passes available at £95 (€110) for non-sailing adults, £55 (€65) for juniors and free for children.

Tennis: Fed Cup Semifinals
April 24-25
Rome, Italy and Birmingham, USA

The Italian and WTA number 11 Flavia Pannetta will be joined by Sara Errani, Francesca Schiavone, and Roberta Vinci in hosting the Czech Republic's WTA Doubles number 8 Kveta Peschke and her compatriots Lucie Hradecka, Petra Kvitova, and Lucie Safarova at the Stadio Nicola Pietrangeli. Meanwhile, WTA joint number one Liezel Huber of the USA will be playing with Melanie Oudin, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sloane Stephens in Birmingham, Alabama against the Russian ladies' team of Elena Dementieva, Ekaterina Makarova and Alla Kudryavtseva. Both USA and Russia have had injuries to deal with, and while the USA can deal with the loss of the Williams sisters, Russia are bringing in two youngsters to cope with the crisis.

Endurance: Ironman South Africa
April 25
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The only event in the Ironman 2010 series to take place on the African continent, Ironman South Africa represents the only regional opportunity for African triathlon enthusiasts to secure a place at October's World Championships in Hawaii. 1,855 competitors have been registered for the race, which starts with a 2.4mi / 3.8km swim in Nelson Mandela Bay, a 112mi / 180km cycle west past the Airport to Sea View and back again along the coastal Marine Drive, before finishing off with a 26.2mi / 42.2km three lap fast and flat run in and near the Nelson Mandela University grounds.

MotoGP: Japanese Grand Prix
Was April 25, now October 3
Motegi, Japan

The Japanese Grand Prix due to take place on April 25 has been moved to October 3 due to travel disruption caused by the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland. Though MotoGP races are usually scheduled fortnightly, this rearrangement means that there will be a meeting for three consecutive weeks starting with the Japanese MotoGP, then Malaysia at Sepang on October 10, and Australia on Phillip Island on October 17. A tempting arrangement for anyone considering a MotoGP-themed holiday in south east Asia and Oceania.
Japanese MotoGP: http://www.motogp.com/en/events/Japan/2010
Malaysian MotoGP: http://www.motogp.com/en/events/Malaysia/2010
Australian MotoGP: http://www.motogp.com/en/events/Australia/2010

Intellectual: World Sudoku Championship
April 29 - May 2
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Now in its fifth year, competitors at the World Sudoku Championship are chosen to represent their country by their nationally approved World Puzzle Federation organization, listed on the World Puzzle website. A slew of Sudoku puzzles await them, with individual and team rounds taking place on April 30 and May 1, thematically linked to the Olympic Decathlon and ensuring a challenge for the most veteran Sudoku masters.

Cricket: ICC World Twenty20
April 30 - May 16
Various locations, West Indies

Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, and Ireland join the world's nine top seeded teams on the West Indian islands of Barbados, Guyana, and St Lucia, and St.Kitts & Nevis to contest the Twenty20 title over a series of short matches. After a week of warm-up games, the Super 8s commence the tournament's knock-out stage from May 6 onwards, building up to the climactic semi finals on May 13 and then the final on May 17. Sky Sports and the BBC cover the competition in the UK and Ireland, Eurosport in mainland Europe, ESPN in Asia and India, while Fox and Sky also have Australsia. Canadian and Afghani viewers can catch the matches on ATN (Asian / Afghani Television Network respectively).

Motorsport: Gumball 3000
May 1-7
London, UK - New York, USA

The Gumball motor rally travels 3000 km from London to New York, via the European cities of Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Stockholm, before flying over the Atlantic and continuing the seven day tour through Quebec City and Toronto. The Gumball 3000 is well known for attracting wealthy and famous participants: Idris Elba (Stringer Bell from The Wire), Dizzee Rascal, Jade Jagger, Tony Hawk, Xzibit and Cypress Hill's DJ Muggs are all confirmed entrants for 2010. Upwards of 100 cars will be travelling from point to point, most of them super-expensive supercars done up in Gumball livery, though it's not uncommon to see more diminutive vehicles. Idris Elba, for one, has taken to the spirit of the rally by commandeering a Mini Cooper as his ride.

MotoGP: Spanish Grand Prix
May 2
Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

After the Japanese Grand Prix, MotoGP sheds its usual fortnightly schedule and immediately sets up camp in southern Spain for the third meet of the season. Weekend passes bought via the MotoGP website start at €63/$75 for general admission and go up to €107/$128 in the best grandstand. Tickets are also available from the Circuito de Jerez' own site.
http://www.motogp.com or http://www.circuitodejerez.com

Formula One: Spanish Grand Prix
May 9
Barcelona, Spain

A week after MotoGP burns rubber near the southwestern Spanish city of Jerez, Formula One's dignitaries and heroes return upon the Circuit de Catalunya in the country's capital, Barcelona, the site of the last pre-season testing before the championship begun with the Bahrain GP in March. Schumacher has won the GP six times, three more than the next closest multiple winners, and none of whom are still racing. Three day grandstand passes run from €411 to €629.
http://www.circuitcat.com or http://www.formula1.com/tickets_and_travel

Sports Industry Awards
May 13
London, England

Hosted by the Sports Industry Group and called 'the Oscars of the sports world' according to British newspapers The Observer and The Times, the fourteen awards categories include Venue, Best TV Commercial, Brand, Newspaper, Technological Innovation, and Sports Participation Event of the Year. Though the Gold and Diamond packages have now sold out, the standard £3,995 (€4,565) deal includes a three-course dinner, champagne reception, complimentary drinks, and a table at the ceremony for ten persons.

Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour
May 14
Giza, Egypt

The historic Egyptian pyramids welcome the freestyle motocross tricksters of the X-Fighters World Tour for the second of six global events. Six miles to the north of Cairo, the five FMX riders will showcase their skills in front of the Great Sphinx for the assembled crowds. Tickets are 75 EGP (€10) for those standing, or 150 EGP (€20) for a seated view.

Tel Aviv Marathon
May 14
Tel Aviv, Israel

With shorter 5km and 10km runs available, and a winner's prize fund of $4,500 for both male and female participants, the Tel Aviv marathon traces a route along the Israeli coastline before cutting through the city beside the Yarkon River to the Ganei Yohoshua Park and back out again. Originally scheduled during the Jewish Passover festival, the marathon's final dates were settled on in February, in part to fulfil the wish of race sponsor Adidas to have the event both start and finish in the city's Charles Clore Park.

Athletics: 24th IAAF World Race Walking Cup
May 15-16
Chihuahua, Mexico

Expect average temperatures of 21°C at an altitude of 1,440m for the Men's and Women's 20km, and the Mens 50km World Race Walking Cup. There are also races for Juniors (must be aged 16-19 on December 31 2010). Top athletes will be covering the distances in less than 2 hours, or under 5 hours for the longer course. Prizes of up to $30,000 await the world's best race walkers.

Bossaball European Indoor Championship 2010
May 15-16
Roggel, Netherlands

Imagine a cross between volleyball, trampolining, and gymnastics. In the middle of an inflatable court, one player stands on a trampoline while teammates set up spiking opportunities for the high flier as they endeavour to beat the opposing team. The European Championships bring together teams from around the continent, following a pre-selection tournament that takes place on May 8.

IFPA7 World Pinball Championship
May 21-23
Cokato, Minnesota, USA

A prize fund of $13,000 tempts pinball wizards to Minnesota's Pinball Hall of Fame to ply their trade on a collection of 48 machines, ranging from pre-1978 electro-mechanical tables through the solid state electronic technologies of the 80's, right up to the modern dot-matrix era.