ChessBase India Talent Test

by Sagar Shah
4/6/2021 – In 2017 IM Sagar Shah travelled to the house of R. Praggnanandhaa in Chennai and gave the youngest IM in the world a set of test positions to solve. This ritual then continued with more talents, like Nihal Sarin, Raunak Sadhwani and others. Even experienced GMs like Adhiban and Ganguly have dipped their feet into ChessBase India's talent test. Now Sagar presented a set of twelve positions to a new talent – and filmed the entire process. See if you can compete with the twelve-year-old.

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When AR Ilamparthi was just eight years old we wrote an article entitled, the boy who makes Pragg and Nihal look old! The youngster showed immense promise at that early age, and he hasn't failed to live up to the expectations. Ilamparthi went on to become the U9 national champion, scoring 10.0/10. He won an open rating tournament at the age of just ten – his highest FIDE Elo was 2176.

The big talent in Indian chess - Ilamparthi AR | Photo: Amruta Mokal

In the last year the pandemic halted Ilamparthi's progress, but the youngster did not lose his motivation to keep improving his game. He has been working hard, practising each and every day by solving positions, studies, looking over the games of great masters and studying new opening lines. Although his current Elo is 1989, my guess is that, with a little more effort, the youngster will  very soon reach an Elo of 2400. That's how good he is.

In order to test him, we decided to give Ilamparthi twelve positions to solve, with a timer ticking down. Some of the positions were tactical, some positional, some were extremely easy, some were quite tough. The reason why twelve positions were chosen was because Ilamparthi turned twelve a week earlier.

It took Ilamparthi one hour and ten minutes to breeze through all the positions. I recommend the serious student of the game to try solving the position, directly on the following diagrams, where you can move the pieces. Write down your answers and time yourself. When you are done solving all positions, check the answers against the solutions given in the video given below. In this way you will be able to understand how good Ilamparthi is, and what you need to do in order to get better at chess!

The Talent Test


White to play


White to play is a piece up, but his Nd6 is pinned. How did Nakamura wriggle out of it?


White to play. Black has certain threats in the position. How does White deal with them?


White to play. The bNa5 is weirdly placed. How can White take the best advantage of this?


White to play


This is a study by the well-known composer Steffen Nielsen. There is only one way for White to win. Can you find it? Hint: Do not underestimate Black's resources.


Black's armada of pawns look menacing, but it's not easy to push them. How did he do it?


Black to play


Both kings are under heavy fire. It's Black's move here. Can he reach the finish line first?


Not at all an easy one. Black looks clearly better. White has to go into damage control mode. How do you continue as White?


All the rooks in the position are attacking each other! How do you continue here as Black?


White is a rook down, however his pawn has reached the seventh rank. Black's d-pawn also looks dangerous. How should White continue?

Answers in video format

Ilamparthi has a crack at the above twelve positions. He solves all of them in 1 hour 10 minutes. IM Sagar Shah is the host. Check out the video.

All the questions in this talent test were prepared by the world famous author and trainer Jacob Aagaard (right). Jacob has written some of the best chess books in recent times and his Grandmaster Preparation series is something that every ambitious student of the game has studied in order to get better. When it comes to training, he has worked with some of the best players in the world, including Boris Gelfand, Sam Shankland (above, left) and many others. When I asked Jacob for twelve positions for the talent test, he agreed instantly.

If you would like to get better at your chess and would like to train with Jacob and his team of trainers, I would recommend you to check out his academy – Killer Chess Training.

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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