Nihal Sarin – The young Devil from Thrissur

Chess is becoming younger day by day. There are prodigies all around the world trying to make their presence felt. With India in a chess boom, it did produce a lot of prodigies pre-Covid. With the likes of Praggnanandha R, Gukesh D, Raunak Sadhwani, Divya Deshmukh, Vaishali R, and many more, there is a kid from Thrissur – GrandMaster Nihal Sarin a.k.a young devil!

Today I am going to increase your knowledge about GM Nihal Sarin. I present you some general information about his life than the chess part where I will present you my favorite games of GM Nihal Sarin followed by some achievements.

·       General life information

·       Career graph

·       Best games

·       Nihal the blitz and bullet monster

·       Achievements

General life information –

Nihal was born on 13 July 2004 in Thrissur in the Indian state of Kerala. Nihal learned chess at the age of six. In order to not make him feel bored during school vacations, his father introduced Nihal to a chess set, and his grandfather A. A. Ummar taught him the rules at Kottayam where he was a student of Excelsior English School.

Nihal is managed by Priyadarshan Banjan and is coached by GM Narayanan Srinath. Narayan Srianth is famously known as the Vice-Captain of the Indian chess team. . Narayanan Srianth has created a famous lifetime repertoire in Catalan. Check it out here.

Nihal Sarin got India’s 2nd highest sponsorship deal with Akshaykalpa Milk! This comes after the deal between Indian Numero and 5 times former world champion Vishwanathan Anand and NIIT. Akshayakalpa was registered on October 2, 2010.

The Genesis of Akshayakalpa dates to the years 2001 to 2009, where the Yuva Chetna program led by Dr. G.N.S. Reddy. Akshayakalpa was born as a farmer entrepreneurship initiative. Akshayakalpa owns a 40,000 Litre/day capacity Organic Milk Processing Plant where milk collected from the farmers working with Akshayakalpa is packed and processed.

It feels good when talents like Nihal are backed by some strong sponsorers. This is one of the important aspects in Indian sports which I feel is still lacking. Once the sports players are ensured that their expenses are taken care of then they can play freely. I personally feel that this is going to be a start of a lot of players signing contracts in coming 5 years!

Career graph –

Above is the graph of Nihal Sarin. You can see he did have ups and downs but once he was on a roll he turned to become an IM followed by a GM real soon! He just rushed through those milestones. He has consistency in his game and it is reflected in his progress.

Nihal sarin started his rating with 1268 in July 2011. He kept on progressing steadily and in 3 years he was above 2100.  Then he had some ups and downs from 2014-2016. A dip that every player faces. Did Nihal start doubting his talent? NO! He came back strongly and reached a rating of 2351 in March 2016. From here on he started to show consistency. He took another year to fulfill all the criteria for the International Master title.

Since then day in day out he has shown that he is a force to reckon. He is tricky and drops down in time just to lure his opponents to make mistakes. And then he shows who the real boss is.

Best games

Here are some best games of Nihal Sarin according to me. Whenever I study Nihal’s games, one thing is his deep knowledge of the openings. He always opts for standard openings and has long lines in the store. He also plays almost all the openings and does bring exciting chess over the board. Nihal tends to play positional chess but is never shy to show how fierce he can attack!

You can see these games and those who are not able to see the games, I am also attaching the notations for the games at the end of the article.

Nihal the blitz and bullet monster –

Nihal is always seen playing blitz, bullet, hyper bullet, etc. And he not only plays it but also dominates his opponents. He keeps on winning tournaments after tournaments. Nihal is known for his supreme resourcefulness and tricks when both players drop down to a few seconds. His knowledge of tricks in endgames helps him convert many draws into wins and many lost positions in draws.

GM Anish Giri who is one of the elite players has mentioned a lot of times that Nihal has a good understanding of the game. He knows when to take a pause and sink into deep thought.

Achievements –

International Master Title – 2017.

Grand Master Title – 2018.

Nihal won the World Online Youth Championships 2020 in the Under-18 category by defeating GM Shant Sargsyan from Armenia with a final score of 1.5: 0.5.

Nihal made his debut at the Isbank Turkish Super League in July 2018, leading the team Genc Akademisyenler on the first board. He scored 6.0/12 against an opposition made up of an average rating of 2590.

In the 2019 TePe Sigeman & Co. Masters tournament held in Malmo, Sweden, Nihal scored a solid 3.0/7 and finished 6th place to cross the 2600 Elo mark in rating.

Nihal won the Gazprom Brilliancy Prize for his game against IM Francesco Sonis.

Some top games of Nihal on Youtube 

(1) Sarin Nihal (2610) – Eltaj Safarli (2593) [C95]

World Cup Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (2.1), 13.09.2019

Notation of the best games mentioned in the article –

(1) Sarin Nihal (2610) – Eltaj Safarli (2593)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.h3 Nb8 10.d4 Nbd7 11.Nbd2 Bb7 12.Bc2 Re8 13.Nf1 Bf8 14.Ng3 g6 15.a4 Bg7 16.Bd3 c6 17.Bg5 h6 18.Be3 Qc7 19.Qd2 Kh7 20.b4 Nb6 21.dxe5 dxe5 22.a5 Nbd7 23.c4 Rad8 24.Qa2 Kg8 25.Bc2 Qd6 26.Bb3 Qe7 27.Rad1 Rc8 28.Nh4 Kf8 29.c5 Nb8 30.Rd6 Red8 31.Ngf5 gxf5 32.Nxf5 Qc7 33.Nxg7 Kxg7 34.Bxh6+ Kxh6 35.Rxf6+ Kg5 36.Rf5+ Kh6 37.Qe2

1–0

(2) Sarin Nihal (2610) – Jorge Cori (2676) [B32]

World Cup Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (1.1), 10.09.2019

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4 Be7 7.N1c3 a6 8.Na3 Be6 9.Nc2 Rc8 10.Be2 Na5 11.b3 b5 12.Ne3 bxc4 13.Ned5 Nf6 14.Be3 Bxd5 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.Qxd5 0–0 17.0–0 cxb3 18.Bxa6 Rc3 19.Rfb1 Nc6 20.Rxb3 Rxb3 21.Qxb3 Nd4 22.Bxd4 exd4 23.Bc4 Qa5 24.g3 Bg5 25.Kg2 g6 26.Bd5 Qc3 27.Rd1 Kg7 28.Rd3 Qc5 29.a4 Bd8 30.Qb2 Bb6 31.Rb3 Ba5 32.Rd3 Bb6 33.h4 Rc8 34.Qe2 Ba7 35.h5 Qc1 36.Qg4 Rc7 37.Rf3 d3 38.Qh4 Bd4 39.Rxd3 g5 40.h6+ Kf8 41.Qh5 Bxf2 42.Rf3 Qg1+ 43.Kh3 Qh1+ 44.Kg4 Qxh5+ 45.Kxh5 Bd4 46.a5 Ra7 47.a6 f6 48.Ra3 Ke7 49.Kg4 Kd8 50.Bb7 Bc5 51.Rb3 Ke7 52.Kf5 Bd4 53.g4 Kd7 54.Bd5 Rxa6 55.Rb7+ Kc8 56.Rxh7 Ra1 57.Rf7

1–0

(3) Sarin Nihal (2598) – Parham Maghsoodloo (2671) [C53]

Sigeman & Co Malmo SWE (5.2), 07.05.2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 a6 6.0–0 d6 7.Bb3 0–0 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bh4 Ba7 10.Na3 g5 11.Bg3 Kg7 12.Nc4 Ng8 13.Ne3 Nge7 14.d4 f6 15.Re1 Bd7 16.h3 h5 17.a4 Qc8 18.a5 Rh8 19.dxe5 dxe5 20.h4 g4 21.Nd2 Ng6 22.Ndf1 Nce7 23.Qc2 Be6 24.Red1 Rb8 25.Rd2 Kf7 26.Rad1 Bxb3 27.Qxb3+ Qe6 28.Qc2 Rbc8 29.Nf5 Rhe8 30.b3 Kg8 31.Rd6 cxd6 32.Rxd6 Rc6 33.Rxe6 Rxe6 34.Qd2 Nf4 35.Bxf4 exf4 36.Qxf4 Nxf5 37.Qxf5 Rxe4 38.Qg6+ Kf8 39.Qxf6+ Kg8 40.Qg6+ Kf8 41.Qf6+ Kg8 42.Ng3 Re1+ 43.Kh2 Bb8 44.Qg6+ Kf8 45.Qxh5 R1e4 46.Qh8+ Kf7 47.Qh7+ Kf8 48.Qxb7 Rf4 49.Qb6 Kg7 50.Nh5+

1–0

(4) Sarin Nihal (2620) – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2784) [D00]

chess.com Speed Chess chess.com INT (1.25), 01.11.2020

1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.Nf3 Bd6 5.Bg3 0–0 6.Nbd2 b6 7.Bd3 Ba6 8.Bxa6 Nxa6 9.0–0 c5 10.c4 cxd4 11.Nxd4 Nc5 12.Qe2 Rc8 13.Rac1 Bxg3 14.hxg3 Qd7 15.Rfd1 Rfd8 16.cxd5 Nxd5 17.N2f3 Qb7 18.a3 a5 19.Ne5 a4 20.e4 Ne7 21.f3 Ng6 22.Nxg6 hxg6 23.Nb5 Qb8 24.e5 Nb3 25.Rxc8 Qxc8 26.Nd6 Qc6 27.Kh2 Nc5 28.Qe3 f6 29.Rd4 g5 30.exf6 Rxd6 31.Qxg5 Rd7 32.Qg6 Qc8 33.Rh4 Qf8 34.Qh7+ Kf7 35.Rg4 Rd8 36.fxg7 Qg8 37.Qg6+ Ke7 38.Rf4 Nd7 39.Qg5+ Ke8 40.Qg6+ Ke7 41.Qg5+ Ke8 42.Rxa4 Rc8 43.Rh4 Rc5 44.Qg6+ Ke7 45.Rh8 Ne5 46.Qg5+ Kf7 47.Qf4+

1–0

(5) Sarin Nihal (2618) – Rauf Mamedov (2659) [D00]

Tata Steel Challengers Wijk aan Zee NED (13), 26.01.2020

1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Bf5 3.e3 e6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.c4 Bxb1 6.Qxb1 Bb4+ 7.Kd1 Be7 8.c5 Ne4 9.Qc2 0–0 10.Bd3 Nc6 11.Bxe4 dxe4 12.Qxe4 Bxc5 13.Ke2 Bd6 14.Ng5 g6 15.Bxd6 cxd6 16.Qh4 h5 17.g4 Qb6 18.gxh5 Qb5+ 19.Ke1 Qxb2 20.Rd1 Qb4+ 21.Kf1 Qb5+ 22.Kg1 Kg7 23.hxg6 Kxg6 24.Ne4 Rg8 25.h3 Qh5 26.Qxh5+ Kxh5+ 27.Kh2 Kh4 28.Nxd6 Rad8 29.Nxb7 Rb8 30.Rb1 a5 31.a3 Ne7 32.Nxa5 Ra8 33.Nc4 Nd5 34.Rhg1 f5 35.Rxg8 Rxg8 36.Nd2 Rc8 37.Nf3+ Kh5 38.Rb2 Rc3 39.Ne5 Rxa3 40.Rc2 Kg5 41.Rc6 Ra2 42.Kg1 Kf6 43.Nd7+ Kf7 44.Nc5 f4 45.Rxe6 fxe3 46.fxe3 Re2 47.e4 Nf4 48.Re5 Nxh3+ 49.Kf1 Rc2 50.Rh5 Rc3 51.Ke2 Kg6 52.Rf5 Ng5 53.Rf1 Ra3 54.e5 Ra2+ 55.Kd3 Ra3+ 56.Kc4 Nf3 57.Kd5 Re3 58.e6 Kg7 59.Ne4 Rd3 60.Rxf3 Rxf3 61.e7

1–0

(6) Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2784) – Sarin Nihal (2620) [B10]

chess.com Speed Chess chess.com INT (1.33), 01.11.2020

1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Qe2 Na6 6.Nxf6+ gxf6 7.d4 Bf5 8.c3 Qd5 9.Qc4 Nc7 10.Qxd5 Nxd5 11.Be2 Rg8 12.g3 e6 13.Nh4 Bh3 14.Bd2 Bd6 15.0–0–0 0–0–0 16.Rhe1 Rd7 17.f4 Ne7 18.Bh5 Nf5 19.Nxf5 Bxf5 20.Re2 Kc7 21.Rde1 a5 22.Be3 a4 23.Bf2 b5 24.Bf3 b4 25.c4 Bd3 26.c5 Be7 27.Rd2 Bc4 28.Kb1 Bd5 29.Bh5 Rf8 30.f5 exf5 31.Be3 Be4+ 32.Kc1 Kb7 33.Bd1 Ra8 34.g4 fxg4 35.Bxg4 f5 36.Bh5 Bf6 37.Bd1 a3 38.Bb3 Rad8 39.bxa3 bxa3 40.Red1 f4 41.Bxf4 Bxd4 42.Rxd4 Rxd4 43.Re1 Bd5 44.Re7+ Ka6 45.Be5 Bxb3 46.Bxd4 Rxd4 47.axb3 Rd1+

0–1

Top 9 chess players from India

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