This evening Nihal was paired against Armenian Grandmaster Gabriel Sargissian, in the last and final round of Chess.com Isle of Man. Nihal gave his all in the game, however, his opponent’s experience triumphed over the unseasoned 13-year-old’s moves. Consequently, losing this game came with a cost of missing his second GM norm.
The game started with Queen’s pawn opening, and Black opted for Queen’s Indian setup. After both Kings castled, the tension began on the center with White threatening to checkmate Black’s King by trying to elevate the f6 knight. In the commentator’s box, GM Peter Leko hailed 15..c5 as a brave move and praised Nihal for his mature positional understanding.
Tension on the board reached a peak point when Nihal sacrificed a pawn on c4 and this time Black was the one who threatens mate on White’s kingside. However, the Armenian GM played skillfully and Queens were off the board. Nihal went into an opposite-colored bishop ending with a pawn down. After making few inaccurate moves, Nihal succumbed to a loss.