Fagernes International: Nihal Sarin announces his arrival

by Srinath Narayanan
4/16/2017 – Nihal Sarin has announced his arrival and how! It is true that he had already started making a name for himself as a dangerous 12-year-old boy who could crush you if you give him one small opportunity. But the TV2 Fagernes GM International saw the 12-year-old genius score his first GM norm, stay undefeated, smash a 2600 GM on the way, tie for second (take fourth place on the tiebreak), and play breathtaking chess. We have a report with grandmaster analysis of Nihal's games.

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12-year-old International Master Nihal Sarin made his first GM Norm in the TV 2 Fagernes GM International Open in Norway. He did so at the age of 12 years 09 months. He started off by coasting through his first two games where he swatted his lower rated opponents fairly easily.

After a few sedate draws against GM opposition, he caught everyone’s attention with the following game against Israeli GM Evgeny Postny (2606). [Photo: Tom Eriksen]

Nihal has always impressed everyone with his logic and intuitive strategic understanding, but this game had a lot to do with concrete calculations, and he showed that he can handle such positions as well with equal aplomb.


[Event "TV2 Fagernes International 2017"] [Site "Scandic Hotell Fagernes"] [Date "2017.04.09"] [Round "6"] [White "Nihal, Sarin"] [Black "Postny, Evgeny"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D45"] [WhiteElo "2424"] [BlackElo "2606"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "111"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. e3 Nf6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. b3 O-O 8. Bb2 e5 9. Be2 e4 10. Nd2 {Black has built up an impressive center. White has a logical threat.} a6 $6 (10... Re8 $142 {was probably better, as} 11. g4 { can be met by} Nf8 12. g5 (12. Rg1 Bxh2 13. Rg2 Bd6 14. g5 Bh3 15. Rg1 N6d7 16. O-O-O Rc8 $17 {Adhiban,B (2682)-Wang,H (2683) Sharjah Masters 1st 2017 (7) 0-1} ) 12... Ng4 13. cxd5 cxd5 14. Nxd5 Nxf2 15. Kxf2 Qxg5 16. Nxe4 Qxd5 17. Bf3 Qf5 $15) (10... Nb8 $5 {is another possibility, playing against g4.} 11. h3 Na6 12. a3 Nc7 {with an even position.}) 11. g4 b5 12. g5 $1 Ne8 {I presume that Nihal's preparation ended about here. One of the remarkable things about him is that, he tries to play the principled moves in almost all situations and places a premium on precision.} 13. cxd5 $6 (13. h4 Nc7 14. O-O-O {was another option, keeping the game complicated.}) 13... cxd5 14. Nxd5 {White has some success against the center, but the position isn't that simple...} Bb7 { triggers a forcing continuation.} (14... f5 $5 15. h4 (15. gxf6 Ndxf6 $15) 15... Bb7 16. Nc3 Nb6 17. a4 b4 18. Nd1 Rc8 $44) 15. Qxe4 Nb6 16. Bd3 g6 17. Nf6+ Nxf6 18. Qxb7 Nfd5 19. Ne4 {Black has sacrificied two pawns. His only compensation is the oddly placed White queen. Therefore, Black's best chance is to try and trap the queen.} Rb8 $2 (19... Be7 $142 20. O-O (20. h4 Nb4 21. Be2 Rb8 22. Qa7 Ra8 $11) (20. Ke2 Bxg5 21. h4 Bxh4 22. Rag1 Re8 $11) 20... Nb4 21. Ba3 N6d5 22. Be2 Rb8 $11) 20. Qc6 Bb4+ 21. Ke2 Rc8 22. Qb7 Rb8 23. Qc6 Rc8 24. Qb7 {checking opponent's intention, gaining time.} Rb8 25. Qxa6 $1 { The principled way to play! typical Nihal} Nc7 26. Qa7 Qc8 27. Nf6+ Kh8 28. Be4 Nbd5 {Nihal had just 15 minutes for the 12 moves.} 29. Nxd5 $2 (29. Bxd5 $142 Nxd5 30. Rhc1 $1 Qe6 (30... Qh3 31. Nxd5 Qg4+ 32. Kd3 $18 {is just a piece up.} ) 31. Qd7 {was even stronger, effectively crippling Black's resistance.}) 29... Nxd5 30. Rhc1 (30. Bxd5 $142 Qc2+ 31. Kf1 Qxb2 32. Kg2) 30... Qg4+ 31. Kd3 Qxg5 $2 (31... Rfe8 $142 32. Bxd5 Qf5+ 33. Ke2 Qxd5 $11) 32. Bxd5 Qxd5 33. e4 Qh5 34. d5+ {the central pawns act as a shield for the White king.} f6 35. Qe3 Rbd8 36. Bd4 Kg8 37. Rc7 Qxh2 38. Qg3 Qh5 39. Qg2 Qh4 40. Qf3 (40. Rh1 Qf4) (40. Qh1 Qxh1 41. Rxh1 h5 42. Rb7 {was also just winning for White.}) 40... Qg5 41. Rd1 Bd6 42. Ra7 Bb8 43. Rb7 Rf7 44. Rxf7 Kxf7 45. Qh3 Kg7 46. Rh1 h5 {[#]} 47. f4 $3 Bxf4 (47... Qxf4 48. Rf1 $18) 48. Rg1 Qh6 49. Bxf6+ $18 Kxf6 50. Qe6+ Kg7 51. Qe7+ Kg8 52. Qxd8+ Kh7 53. Qe7+ Kg8 54. d6 Bd2 55. Qe8+ Kg7 56. Rxg6+ 1-0

And then he followed it up with this beauty against Chatalbashev. [Photo: Tom Eriksen]

[Event "TV2 Fagernes International 2017"] [Site "Scandic Hotell Fagernes"] [Date "2017.04.09"] [Round "7"] [White "Chatalbashev, Boris"] [Black "Nihal, Sarin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A37"] [WhiteElo "2546"] [BlackElo "2424"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "67"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] 1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5 {I think the Botvinnik variation was made popular during the 2011 candidates by Grischuk, who used this successfully to draw all his classical games with Black against Gelfand and Kramnik. It is a very solid system against the English. In any case, studying Grischuk's games in this system is a great way to learn for those interested in this variation.} 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. a3 Nge7 7. O-O O-O 8. Rb1 d6 (8... a5 {is another way to operate in this position, but not the only way.}) 9. b4 Rb8 10. d3 b6 11. Ne1 Bb7 12. Nc2 Nd4 13. Ne3 Bxg2 14. Kxg2 Bh6 {Getting rid of the bad bishop. Nihal's strategic understanding is one of the factors that sets him apart from a lot of other 12-year-olds.} 15. Qa4 Ra8 16. Rb2 f5 17. Ned5 Nxd5 18. Nxd5 Bxc1 19. Rxc1 f4 {Black's play has been perfectly logical. White threatens to rip open Black's queenside, so Nihal logically responds on the kingside.} 20. e3 f3+ 21. Kh1 Ne2 22. Rcb1 Rf7 {typical prophylaxis, and a natural move for a King's Indian player. This move also prepares Qc8.} 23. h3 Rc8 24. Kh2 { Having prepared his defence, White now gets ready to storm through on the queenside. How does Black further proceed on the kingside?} Qg5 25. bxc5 dxc5 26. Qd1 Rcf8 27. a4 h5 28. a5 h4 29. g4 e4 $1 {The whole point. This had to be calculated a while ago as time plays an important factor here.} 30. axb6 Qe5+ 31. Kh1 Ng3+ 32. Kg1 $8 (32. fxg3 hxg3 33. Nf4 (33. b7 g2+ (33... Qh8 34. Qf1 g2+ 35. Rxg2 fxg2+ 36. Qxg2 Rb8 $19) 34. Kg1 f2+ 35. Rxf2 Rxf2 36. b8=Q Qxb8 37. Rxb8 Rf1+ 38. Kxg2 Rxd1 $19) 33... g5 34. d4 Qb8 35. Nh5 g2+ 36. Kg1 f2+ 37. Kxg2 f1=Q+ 38. Qxf1 Rxf1 39. Rxf1 Rxf1 40. Kxf1 axb6 $19) 32... Ne2+ 33. Kh1 (33. Rxe2 fxe2 34. Qxe2 Rxf2 $19) (33. Kf1 Qh2 $19) 33... Ng3+ 34. Kg1 { Smooth, precise, mature play.} 1/2-1/2

In the middle of the tournament, Nihal, a big fan of fast time controls, played in the Fagerenes Easter Rapids where he demolished a field of 2200-2400 players to take first place with 5.5/6, ahead of the remaining players by a full point. He won 200 euros for this result (and an army of fans among the spectators). In this picture, he can be seen with the ever cheerful chief organiser of this beautiful tournament, Hans Olav Lahlum. [Photo: Tom Eriksen]

Nihal defended a slightly worse ending out of a Caro-Kann, which he played only for the second time in his career, against the top seed GM Andriy Vovk (2636) to hold a draw. [Photo: Tom Eriksen]

He finished with a draw against GM Alon Greenfeld of Israel, to secure his Grandmaster norm with a score of 6.0/9, tying for the second place with two others—GM Erik Blomqvist and FM Benjamin Avola, who also secured a GM norm. Nihal was placed fourth on the tiebreak in this tournament with an average rating of 2335 and remained undefeated throughout.

So focused he was on the next game at hand, being prepared, that the overall result was lost from sight. It shows a refreshing approach that suggests it is about good chess and good games, and not focused on results.

Final Standings:

Click above for higher resolution. Full crosstable.

Nihal's Development as a Player:

Chess Books and Chess Games!

What stands out the most in Nihal’s play is his astute understanding of nuanced parts of chess that can’t be completely taught. It can only be understood by sense, and that sense is achieved by spending time on chess with attention and absorbing tonnes of intangible data subconsciously.

For Nihal, this is something natural. His typical day starts as he wakes up, eats something quickly, goes to school (he is at the top of his class in academics), returns, has lunch, dives straight to his computer and plays online blitz. If he has a holiday he will do the same, minus the school. This is followed by reading/skimming chess books, following games live or just solving positions for fun.  He does this with full attention, and all of this comes naturally to him.


This whole, natural process has resulted in a mature positional understanding that cannot be quite taught. For example, here’s a game where he takes out a seasoned grandmaster with a series of simple, powerful moves based on logic:

[Event "Moscow Aeroflot op-B 16th"] [Site "Moscow"] [Date "2017.02.26"] [Round "6"] [White "Gasanov, Eldar"] [Black "Nihal, Sarin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E06"] [WhiteElo "2479"] [BlackElo "2386"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2017.02.21"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "RUS"] [SourceTitle "Mega2017 Update 20"] [Source "Chessbase"] [SourceDate "2017.03.10"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2017.03.10"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Be7 5. c4 O-O 6. Qc2 c5 7. O-O cxd4 8. Nxd4 e5 9. Nf5 d4 10. Nxe7+ Qxe7 {An interesting position. Objecively Black is okay, but a lot of players feel pleasant with White. White has the pair of bishops, a strong light square bishop, and the queenside majority against Black's center.} 11. b4 (11. Bg5 h6 12. Bxf6 Qxf6 13. Nd2 Bf5 14. Qb3 Nd7 {Aronian,L (2826)-Carlsen,M (2872) Zuerich Chess Challenge Rapid 2014 (2) 1-0 is the alternative.}) 11... Rd8 $146 {A logical novelty.} (11... Be6 12. Nd2 Rc8 13. Qd3 Nc6 14. b5 Na5 15. Ba3 {Wang,Y (2725)-Karjakin,S (2756) WchT 9th Antalya 2013 (3.2) 1/2-1/2}) 12. c5 $2 (12. b5 $142 {preventing Black's knight from going to it's optimal position.} Nbd7 13. e3 Nc5 (13... dxe3 14. Bxe3 Nb6 15. Nd2 Ng4) 14. exd4 exd4 15. Ba3 d3 16. Qc3 Bg4 $132) 12... Nc6 13. a3 e4 { logical chess.} 14. Bg5 d3 $1 15. exd3 Nd4 16. Qd1 exd3 17. Nd2 Ne2+ 18. Kh1 Bg4 $15 {Black's strong centre has been converted into a dangerous passer, and Black's pieces are buzzing with activity.} 19. Qe1 Rd4 {First, bring the rooks into play.} 20. Qb1 {White's position has become so difficult that even a seasoned grandmaster struggles to find a cohesive plan.} Rad8 21. Qb2 {Now, improve the bishop.} Be6 22. Be3 R4d7 (22... R4d5 $1) 23. Bg5 Bd5 24. f3 Qe6 25. Rae1 h6 26. Bf4 Re8 27. Bd6 h5 (27... Rxd6 28. cxd6 Qxd6 {was also powerful, exchanging White's only active piece.}) 28. Nb1 h4 29. gxh4 {It is noteworthy how Black has systematically improved his pieces with each move. The knight proceeds to e3.} Ng4 {[#] The dominance of Black's pieces over White is no accident. Black has built this position with each move.} 30. Nc3 ( 30. fxg4 Bxg2+ 31. Kxg2 Rxd6 32. cxd6 Qxg4+ 33. Kf2 (33. Kh1 Qe4+ $19) 33... Qxh4+ 34. Kg2 Re6 $19) 30... Ne3 31. Rg1 Qf6 32. Na4 Qxh4 {Now, Black threatens mate with Rxd6.} 33. Rxe2 dxe2 34. Qxe2 Rdd8 35. Bg3 Qh5 36. Qf2 Bc6 37. b5 Bxb5 38. Nc3 Bc6 39. Ne4 Nxg2 40. Qxg2 Qxf3 0-1

Nihal in Sharjah [Photo: A.Karlovich]

A few weeks later, he followed it up with the following game, where he again displayed understanding and maturity beyond his years. Another thing that stands out is his tendency to play in the most principled way, giving priority to good moves, undaunted by his opponents stature.

[Event "Sharjah Masters 1st"] [Site "Sharjah"] [Date "2017.03.23"] [Round "1"] [White "Bluebaum, Matthias"] [Black "Nihal, Sarin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D24"] [WhiteElo "2632"] [BlackElo "2386"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2017.03.23"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "UAE"] [SourceTitle "Mega2017 Update 24"] [Source "Chessbase"] [SourceDate "2017.04.07"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2017.04.07"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e4 Bb4 6. Bxc4 Nxe4 7. O-O Nxc3 8. bxc3 Be7 9. Ne5 O-O 10. Qg4 Nc6 11. Re1 f5 12. Qf3 Nxe5 13. Rxe5 Kh8 14. Bf4 g5 15. Bd2 Bd6 16. Rae1 $5 {Black has held in 3 games from this position, and Black was a strong GM in all these games. Needless to say, this position is very complex and requires a certain degree of maturity to handle.} Bxe5 17. Rxe5 c6 {I presume Nihal's preparation was till about here. White has sacrificed an exchange for Black's dark squared bishop. He has compensation in the form of active pieces and the dark squares against Black's weak king.} 18. h4 {carving the way for White's bishop.} gxh4 19. Bf4 Rg8 20. Bxe6 {Black is probably happy to exchange this bishop off.} Bxe6 21. Rxe6 Rg6 22. Qe3 (22. Be5+ Kg8 23. Qxf5 Qg5 24. Qh3 Rf8 $11) 22... Kg8 $1 {A very precise move. I remember looking at this position and having all my suggestions refuted by my phone computer the next second. White controls the dark squares, so it's logical that Black's counterplay is on the light squares. Nihal grasps these things intuitively.} (22... Qd7 23. Re7 Qd8 24. Qe5+ Kg8 25. Bh6 Qxe7 26. Qxe7 Rxh6 27. Qxb7 Rf8 28. Qxa7 $16) (22... Qd5 23. Re8+ Rxe8 24. Qxe8+ Qg8 25. Be5+ Rg7 26. Qd7 h6 27. Qxb7 $18) 23. Rxg6+ (23. Re7 h3 24. g3 Qd5 25. Re8+ Rxe8 26. Qxe8+ Kg7 27. Be5+ Rf6 28. Bxf6+ Kxf6 29. Qh8+ Kg6 30. Qe8+ Kf6 $11) 23... hxg6 24. Qe6+ Kg7 25. Be5+ Kh6 {solid, precise defense till now.} 26. Qf7 (26. Bf4+ Kg7 {would just be a draw.}) 26... Qg8 27. Qxb7 (27. Qf6 Kh5 28. f4 Qd8 29. Qf7 Qg8 30. Qf6 $11) 27... Rf8 28. Qxc6 f4 {At the cost of two pawns, Black tries to activate his pieces and seek counterplay. Nihal sees that White has to push his passer to d5 or c6 at some point when he can go after Black's king with f3.} 29. c4 Qf7 30. Qe4 (30. c5 Qf5 31. Qb7 Re8 32. c6 f3 33. c7 fxg2 34. Kxg2 Qg4+ 35. Kh2 Qf5 $11) (30. f3 {was a possible prophylactic move, but now Black can get counterplay with} h3 31. gxh3 Qf5 32. Qb7 Rf7 33. Qe4 Qxh3 34. c5 Rf5 $11) 30... g5 31. c5 Qg6 32. Qe1 $2 {It was very important to retain control on f3. White would've held the balance with any move that would've done this. Qf3,Qb7, f3} (32. Qb7 $142 g4 33. f3 g3 34. Bd6 Rf7 35. Qb8 Qf5 36. a3 {Neither side can progress, so draw is an objectively fair result.}) (32. Qf3 Qf5 33. c6 Kg6 (33... g4 34. Qxf4+ Qxf4 35. Bxf4+ Rxf4 36. c7 Rf8 37. d5 $18) 34. c7 g4 35. Qc6+ Kg5 36. Qc1 g3 37. f3 h3 38. gxh3 Qxh3 39. Qd2 Qd7 40. Qc1 $11) 32... f3 $1 33. d5 fxg2 34. c6 h3 35. d6 Rb8 36. Kh2 Rb1 37. Bg7+ Kh7 {Powerful precision. If someone didn't know the names of the players, Black could've been any strong grandmaster. It is noteworthy how Nihal conducts the game in a logical, principled way. He understands the position, and then operates in a logical manner, undaunted and taking little notice of who his opponent is.} 0-1

Nihal in Sweden [Photo: Lars Hedlund]

And here’s a game where he showcases these abilities in a position without queens, against a strong GM who was once in the world top 100.

[Event "Stockholm Hasselbacken op"] [Site "Stockholm"] [Date "2016.05.08"] [Round "9"] [White "Rozentalis, Eduardas"] [Black "Nihal, Sarin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B53"] [WhiteElo "2584"] [BlackElo "2351"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "126"] [EventDate "2016.04.30"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "SWE"] [SourceTitle "CBM 172 Extra"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2016.06.21"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2016.06.21"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Qxd4 a6 5. Be3 Nc6 6. Qb6 Qxb6 7. Bxb6 g6 8. Nc3 Bg7 9. Nd5 {It looks as if Black faces some tactical problems, but after} Kf8 {There is nothing.} 10. O-O-O Nf6 11. Nxf6 Bxf6 12. h3 {Nihal starts out by just developing his pieces to the right places.} Be6 13. a3 Kg7 14. g4 h6 15. Kb1 Rhc8 16. Be3 b5 17. g5 $2 {too premature.} ({White should prepare g5 with} 17. Rg1 b4 (17... Rab8 18. h4) 18. a4 (18. axb4 Nxb4 19. c3 Ba2+ 20. Kc1 Rab8 $17) 18... b3 19. c3 Ne5 20. Nxe5 dxe5 21. f3 Bg5 $11) 17... hxg5 18. Nxg5 Bc4 19. h4 Bxf1 20. Rdxf1 Rh8 $15 21. f4 Rh5 22. Nf3 Rah8 23. Bf2 e5 24. fxe5 $2 {The decisive mistake. After this, White just loses a pawn by concrete means.} (24. Rd1 $142 Rd8 25. Bb6 Rd7 26. Be3 exf4 27. Bxf4 Ne5 $15) 24... Nxe5 25. Bg3 {[#]} Nc4 $1 ({perhaps White was hoping for} 25... Nxf3 26. Rxf3 Be5) 26. c3 Bxh4 27. Bxh4 Rxh4 28. Rxh4 Rxh4 29. Nxh4 Nd2+ 30. Kc2 Nxf1 $19 { It is well known that a pawn up in knight endgames is a huge advantage and Nihal is well aware of this as well. He converts his advantage effortlessly.} 31. Kd3 Kf6 32. Nf3 g5 33. Ke2 g4 34. Nd4 Ng3+ 35. Ke3 Kg5 36. Nc6 f5 37. exf5 Nxf5+ 38. Kf2 g3+ 39. Kf3 Kh4 40. Nb4 Kh3 41. Nd3 Nh4+ 42. Ke4 Kh2 43. Nf4 Kh1 44. b3 Ng6 45. Ne2 g2 46. c4 bxc4 47. bxc4 a5 48. a4 Ne7 49. Kd4 Kh2 50. Ke4 Nc8 51. Kd5 Nb6+ 52. Kxd6 Nxc4+ 53. Kc5 Nb2 54. Kb5 Nd3 55. Kxa5 Nc1 56. Nxc1 g1=Q 57. Nb3 Qa7+ 58. Kb5 Qb7+ 59. Kc4 Qa6+ 60. Kb4 Kg3 61. a5 Kf4 62. Nc5 Qc6 63. a6 Ke5 0-1

What does the future have in store?

Nihal has several good qualities, but the single most important quality that has carried him this far is his pure, unadulterated love for chess. His rate of absorption of new information about Chess is about 5x faster than mine, with his keen attention playing a key role in this ability to assimilate and learn things rapidly.

This love and passion is like Charmander’s flame, and as long as this keeps burning, it’ll only be a matter of time before this Charmeleon becomes a very powerful Charizard.

Yes, Nihal isn’t just a Charmander anymore. Even the World Champion didn’t find the going easy in the following PRO Chess league game, where Nihal had a couple of chances to draw—this from a difficult position right out of the opening. [Photo: Nihal Sarin Facebook]

[Event "PRO League Stage"] [Site " INT"] [Date "2017.02.15"] [Round "6"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Nihal, Sarin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B12"] [WhiteElo "2840"] [BlackElo "2340"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "131"] [EventDate "2017.01.11"] [EventType "team-swiss (rapid)"] [EventRounds "7"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceTitle "Mega2017 Update 18"] [Source "Chessbase"] [SourceDate "2017.02.24"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2017.02.24"] [SourceQuality "1"] [WhiteTeam "Norway Gnomes"] [BlackTeam "Delhi Dynamite"] [WhiteTeamCountry "NOR"] [BlackTeamCountry "IND"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Be3 e6 5. Nd2 h6 6. c3 Nd7 7. f4 Ne7 8. Ngf3 Bh7 9. Bf2 Rc8 10. Nb3 Be4 11. Nfd2 Bh7 12. Be2 Nf5 13. O-O Be7 14. Nf3 a6 15. g4 Nh4 16. Bxh4 Bxh4 17. Bd3 Bxd3 18. Qxd3 c5 19. f5 c4 20. Qb1 O-O 21. Nbd2 Bg5 22. Qe1 Re8 23. Qg3 Bxd2 24. Nxd2 f6 25. Rae1 Qb6 26. Rf2 Rf8 27. Nf3 fxe5 28. Nxe5 Nf6 29. g5 hxg5 30. Qxg5 exf5 31. Rg2 Rc7 32. Ng6 Ne4 33. Qh5 Re8 34. Rf1 Nf6 35. Qh8+ Kf7 36. Ne5+ Ke7 37. Qxg7+ Kd8 38. Nf7+ Kc8 39. Rxf5 Re1+ 40. Rf1 Rxf1+ 41. Kxf1 Kb8 42. Qf8+ Ka7 43. Nd6 Ne4 44. Nxe4 dxe4 45. Qf4 Rh7 46. Rf2 { Magnus had been dominating the game from the start, but Nihal didn't give up easily, and now he gets his chance.} Qe6 47. Ke1 e3 48. Re2 Rh3 49. Qe5 Qg4 ( 49... Qg6 50. Rxe3 (50. Qc5+ Ka8 51. Qf8+ Ka7 52. Qc5+ Ka8 53. Qc8+ Ka7 $11) 50... Qb1+ 51. Kf2 Qxb2+ 52. Kg1 Qc1+ 53. Re1 (53. Kf2 Qb2+ $11) 53... Qa3 $11) 50. Rxe3 Qg1+ (50... Rh5 51. Qg3 Qf5 52. h4 Qb1+ 53. Kf2 Qxb2+ 54. Kf1 Qxa2 55. Re8 Rf5+ 56. Kg1 Qb1+ 57. Kh2 Qf1 58. Qb8+ Kb6 59. Qd8+ Ka7 $11) 51. Kd2 Rxh2+ 52. Re2 Rxe2+ 53. Qxe2 {I vaguely remember that this queen ending can be held. I don't quite remember how though.} Qb1 $6 54. Ke3 Qxa2 $2 55. d5 Qb3 56. Kf4 Qb6 57. Qe3 Qxe3+ 58. Kxe3 b5 59. Kd4 Kb6 60. Ke5 Kc7 61. Ke6 Kd8 62. Kd6 a5 63. Kc5 b4 64. cxb4 c3 65. bxc3 a4 66. Kc4 1-0

PRO Chess League is online, fast play and isn’t exactly a classical game. But 42 years ago, the first encounter between a World Champion and a 12-year-old kid was also a non-standard game (a simul) which ended in a loss for the 12-year-old kid after he frittered away a promising position. 9 years later, they met in a historic match. Will history repeat itself?

Only time will tell.


Like Nihal's Facebook Community Page to follow him on his journey.

Srinath is a 23-year-old Indian Grandmaster. A former World Under 12 champion, at the age of fourteen he became an IM and had shown surprising and unswerving loyalty to the title ever since, until March 2017, when he crossed the 2500 mark and completed the requirements to become a grandmaster. He loves chess and likes to play in tournaments all around the globe.


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