Category: Tournaments

London Chess Classic FIDE Open: So close yet so far

Thumbnail photo by Maria Emelianova/

London Chess Classic has been traditionally creating a wonderful chess environment for players, it is a perfect platform for young and upcoming talents. There are simultaneous exhibitions, Grandmaster lectures and of course world’s top class players contending in Grand Chess Tour.  It’s always an honour to play next to the elite.

Nihal started the London Chess Classic FIDE Open on a good note. Here are few pictures showcasing the environment.

GM Jon Speelman playing simul exhibition
Nihal loves comics. Naturally, he was pleased to see Asterix chess pieces.
Intriguing wooden chess-set. Who doesn’t want to start playing right away?
Nihal with the legendary John Nunn.  Dr. Nunn is a grandmaster, three-time world champion in chess problem solving, a chess writer and publisher, and a mathematician. He is one of England’s strongest chess players and was formerly in the world’s top ten.

The FIDE Open was a pretty strong tournament, Nihal started off as a 22nd seeded player.

First four rounds ended in little “Taz’s” favour.

Second round game against WIM Yuan Yuanling. Photo: Lennart Ootes

The fourth game kept him in hooks as he was paired against top-seeded player—GM Hrant Melkumyan. Hrant showed his strength and class to take home the point. Nevertheless, playing the game proved to be a valuable experience.

“Red Sweater” the new nickname from his regular chess followers.  Photo: Lennart Ootes

The sixth round game was against compatriot Raja Harshit.  Nihal fared well with white.

The second GM norm is so close yet so far. At the end of sixth round, he needed 2 points to score the norm but luck has not been in his favour.  The seventh and eight rounds were tough and at the same time crucial. All three games ended in a draw. Nonetheless, these are his favourite games of the tournament.

On a positive note, the European trip ended with the thirteen-year-old collecting a bunch of rating points. His live rating is 2517!

What next?

Nihal is back in India. He is currently playing the World Youth  U16 Olympiad— his second tournament on home soil this year, the previous one was  ChessMine Rapid & Blitz in August. His teammates are Praggnananadhaa, Aryan Chopra, Vaishali and Iniyan.

Team India Green

Runavik Open 2017: Nihal enters the 2500 club


From November 20 to 26, Runavik open, a-seven-day Swiss-league took place in the Faroe Islands. The temperature was around  -3°C to 1°C with frequent snowfall. Nihal, fresh from Northern Lights Open was accustomed to the weather and timings. Which meant better games and better performance was waiting ahead.

The Faroes will spoil you with breathtaking sceneries.

On the way to the tournament hall, he met his good friend and mentor—GM Srinath Narayanan. They played Blitz games, following a hearty lunch consisting of skerpikjøt,  potatoes, and fresh vegetables.

Not to forget the delicious Faroese puffin.
Life is better with your friends around you.

The tournament had a strong line-up. India’s GM Deep Sengupta was the highest rated player (2587). Nihal started off as the 11th seeded player.

The first two games were more or less one-sided affair. The difficulty level increased from the 3rd round.
Nihal entered the 2500 club, he needs 2 more GM norms to complete the title requirements. In this third round game against GM Nikita Maiorov, winner of the event, Nihal simply outplayed Black and had the winning 57.Ka5! but missed it in time trouble.

Deep Focus

The game which went on to become wildly popular is the fifth round game. When asked about this 13 move miniature, Nihal said, “It was quite good. He did not have the proper idea in this setup, I think After Ndf3, I am just winning!”

The remarkable thing about Runavik Open is the tournament hall and whole set-up. Everything was top-notch: the venue, seating arrangements, live games webcast and hospitality. It’s safe to say, the organizers did a fantastic job. A large part of the credits must go to Mr. Finnbjørn Vang and his team at the Faroese Chess Federation.
After tournament Simultaneous Exhibition at the Faroe Islands. A detailed report about this follows soon.

Apart from putting up a good fight, a few players (girls) showered him with flying kisses (!). The elders accompanying him were jealous and wanted to be young again.

Nihal will next play in the prestigious London Chess Classic to be held from December 2nd to 9th 2017 in the United Kingdom.

Northern Lights Open 2017: Nihal misses GM norm again

Young prodigy IM Nihal Sarin played the Northern Lights Open between 10th November to 15 November 2017 in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Iceland is a special place for Nihal, because he gets to relive the moments of Bobby Fischer vs. Spassky Matches, World Chess Championship 1972. Right from the early years of playing chess, Fischer’s games have always been an inspiration for Nihal.  And his style is something Nihal feels to emulate in his games.

“I’m happy to be back here in Iceland.”

The temperature was -10 °C . Every day, the chilly atmosphere was a challenge off the board.  But the challenges on the board kept him going forward.

The opening speech by Mr Gunnar Bjornsson / Photo:  Northern Lights Open

The organization was excellent; heartfelt thanks to Gunnar Bjornsson, the enthusiastic organizer of Northern Lights Open, and also, a very humble down-to-earth person.

Spacious and comfortable tournament hall / Photo: Northern Lights Open

Nihal was close to achieving his second GM norm but he missed it by a whisker. On a good note, his live Elo rating has pumped up to 2497, just three more points away from magical 2500 mark!

The first round ended in a draw / Photo: Northern Lights Open

Nihal managed to stay undefeated throughout the event. All nine rounds were equally challenging and exciting but 6th round game remains his favorite.

Black was pressing on the Kingside throughout the game. Nihal had to come up with creative counter play to end the game in his favor.

Click Here to watch the game

Score card

This tournament has been a great learning experience. Nihal is already looking forward to coming back (hopefully, as a GM) next year for more exciting chess! IOM Final: Nihal misses 2nd GM norm

This evening Nihal was paired against Armenian Grandmaster Gabriel Sargissian, in the last and final round of 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.

Photo: Maria Emelianova

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. IOM Rd. 05: An Oversight that cost dearly

After a loss to Adhiban yesterday, Nihal was paired against Konstantin Kavutskiy of U.S.A in the fifth round of Isle of Man, Douglas.

Kostya at the 2016 Autumn Invitational U.S.A, Photo by Aman Hambleton

According to his bio, IM Kostya Kavutskiy is a professional chess player, author, and coach currently residing in Mountain View, California. His first book, Modernized: The Open Sicilian, was published in February 2015.

Kostya chose Nimzo-Indian Opening: 6.g3 setup. The fight was mostly in the center until Nihal began to slyly advance his pawns on Kingside. The grueling 6 hours of play (for the second consecutive day!) took a toll on Nihal as he missed to grab a pawn with 31..Rxc4, in immense time-trouble. Kostya swiftly defended the c4 pawn and Nihal’s attack on the Kingside began to collapse.

This oversight dearly caused Nihal to resign on move 72.  Indeed, a heartbreaking loss in the toughest Open tournament in the world.