Nihal : the next biggest thing in the world of chess

Nihal Sarin seems to be around  the chess circuit for a considerable period of time. Now when you consider that he is all of 16years, that’s when you realize the prodigy the Kerala youngster is.

Nihal was in the news recently when he upset world champion Magnus Carlsson  in a blitz game about a month ago. Though that game was not recognized as an’official one,yet  it went to show the prodigious talent of the youngster .

From being a shy lad who used to converse more with his grandfather than anyone else, it was only in the fitness of things that Nihal learnt the basics of the game from his grandfather. At that time neither the grandson nor the grandfather had an idea as to the roadmap that lay ahead of them.

“It was my grandfather who showed me the chess pieces and taught me the basic moves. From the very beginning there was no denying the youngster’s affinity to chess. For he seemed to develop a liking for the sheer variety of the chess pieces “What caught my fancy was the sheer

Nihal was introduced to the game at the very young age of .six.   The idea was to relieve Nihal of the boredom during the summer holidays.

But then, Nihal began to show his expertise on the 64 squares as he vanquished his grandfather . At that time, Nihal was a student of Excelsior School In Kottayam .

The prodigy in Nihal then began to unfold as he started finishing off opponents much older to him. Also he made it a point to compete against elder opponents as he knew he was very good  at his age group  And the fact that he continue his winning ways against opponents much senior to him showed his mettle and class.

 “In fact, he started defeating certain established state l level players with such regularity and frequency that everyone realized that it was only a matter of time for Nihal to leave his mark at the national level.

Nihal was quick to carry on with good work from the national to international level at the junior level,

He announced his arrival at the world stage when he ‘won the world title in the under 10 section in 2014. That win in Durban was a big one—something which convinced Nihal that he had it in him to go all the way to the top.

“If you asked what convinced me that I could emerge as one of the best, I would tell you that it was my win at the Duran world’s that I was pretty sure about my abilities. Once I had won the world’s I knew it was just a matter of going about the job in a professional manner,: he said.

Maturity has been the forte of Nihal. The youngster seems to think way ahead of his time. He was very quick to realize that if he had to make a mark in  the highly competitive world of chess, he would have to employ the services of a good international player.  So he started to search for a suitable coach who could give him the vital inputs which would help him strategise  against his foes.

Its worth mentioning here that Nihal has played out a draw against his much more illustrious and five time world champion Viswanathan Anand.

“I am elated that I could hold Anand to a draw. He has been one of my idols and I cant quite describe the ele

The following year he almost repeated in the feat when he lost in the title round of the World Under-12 championships a year later.  .

Spurred on by these twin successes, Nihal then sought a professional chess player to guide him through the choppy waters of international chess. He managed to rope in Bulgarian former international master Vladimir who himself was a world junior champion.

“Nihal was quite candid when he said that he was confident

that he was able to do well with someone like Vladimir to tutor him. “I was always confident that with someone like xx to help me out I would only improve. Also he had a word of special praise for his Indian coach Grand Master Srinath Narayanan. “There is no denying the fact that Srinath has added that competitive edge to my game. I have been more aggressive and that has helped me,” he added.

Simultaneously, Nihal went on  to create a unique record—of becoming the third youngest player in the game to have 2600 ELO points. Even the great Viswanathan Anand did not boast of such a unique record when he was 16 years old.

Win over world champ Carlsson

It was in June this year that he did the unthinkable—defeating world champion Magnus Carlsson in a game of b;itz. Though this not during a official status or part of a tournament play, Nihal dwelt the Norwegian superstar a big blow. The Norwegian  a 3 time world champion rarely loses to  Lower ranked player. In fact consistency has been the hallmark of Carlsseon game’.

It was an online challenge in which Carlsson comes online and takes on a numbr of opponents. The format is Blitz which is the T20 of chess.  And surprise of surprise Nihal managed to beat the world ‘s best player and that too in a format which the Norwegian excels in.

Though it was not an official match, Nihal was quick to take the positives from this win.”More than anything this proves that I can beat the very best in the world. Its all a matter of getting it right on that particular day,”said Nihal

Nihal has now set his sights on winning the world title. “We all set goals for ourselves. I have also set a goal—to win the World Championships  I Know it’s a difficult task which is cut out. But then I am going to give my heart and soul into make my dream come true…

No doubt Nihal is the stuff champions are made off and we will hear a lot more about him in the coming years.

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