Nihal Sarin (Malayalam: നിഹാല് സരിന്), is a chess player from Thrissur, Kerala, India. The 12-year-old prodigy holds the title of International Master with a live rating of 2424.
Nihal was the 2014 World Under-10 Champion, winning the title ahead of several talented peers in Durban, South Africa. In 2015, he came close to winning the Under-12 championship in Porto Carras, Greece but had to settle for silver on the tiebreak. In the 2016 edition in Batumi, Georgia, Nihal tied for the second place, settling for the fourth position on the tiebreak. In 2017, at the age of 12 years and 08 months, he became the world’s third youngest International Master, second youngest in India and only the fourth ever in the history of Kerala state.
Incidentally, even the Magnus Carlsen had also become an International Master at the same age as Nihal.
In an article on the World Chess website analyzing his game, GM Parimarjan Negi, world’s second-youngest grandmaster, referred to Nihal as ‘mature beyond his years’, and writes about one of the key moves with the white pieces in his analysis:
“It’s hard to say if this is objectively the strongest move – probably not – but it sure is creative! At the moment, it is very hard to see the idea behind fxg4 – and Black (opponent) didn’t see it either in the game. Nihal shows great intuition to realize that securing the e4 square for his knight would prove crucial – after all, there are too many options to calculate these lines precisely.”
In a 2015 ChessBase report following his display at the World Under-12 Championships, the ChessBase editor Albert Silver wrote:
“Tied for first with 9.0/11 is the quite remarkably talented player from India, Nihal Sarin. The Indian player was already gold in the Boys Under-10 in 2014, ahead of Abdusattorov. If he put in 100% of his energy, who knows what he might achieve, since all this is achieved in spite of his difficulty in staying seated!”