Nihal's Birthday Challenge

by Frederic Friedel
7/17/2020 – Last Monday one of our favourite chess prodigies Nihal Sarin celebrated his 16th birthday – not by enjoying a nice evening with family and friends. Nihal is no ordinary youngster! He is a full GM and rated 2620! On his birthday Nihal decided to spend roughly around an hour and a half with ChessBase India solving sixteen positions that IM Sagar Shah had handpicked for him! You can watch him doing it, and join him in his efforts. There is a lot to learn.

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Sixteen positions and studies to solve

On his birthday Nihal decided to spend roughly around an hour and a half with ChessBase India trying to solve sixteen positions that IM Sagar Shah had handpicked for him! The positions were not at all easy, and Nihal had to put in a lot of effort. But at the end of the day he was happy that he had learnt something new! "Time well spent," he said!

You too can make the best use of this exercise by solving the positions, along with Nihal. It took him 1 hour 29 minutes and 25 seconds to solve all the 16 positions (Although it must be mentioned that Nihal spent a lot of time in explaining his answers as well). Let's see how quickly you are able to solve them! Jot down your times and write the total in the feedback section below. And don't forget to wish the youngster a very happy birthday. You can also check the solutions in the video below, with Nihal solving them in real time.

In the following diagrams you are able to move the pieces, retract moves and try alternate lines. This makes it very easy to analyse possible solutions. At the bottom of the page you will find all the sixteen positions on a replay board where you can switch on an engine to help with the analysis.

Nihal's birthday problems


The Nihal 16th birthday challenge

Watch Nihal solve the problems in real time

As you probably know, in our replay board above there are a large number of functions you can use to really understand the game and the analysis. The biggest advantage is that you can start an engine (fan icon) that will help you to analyse. You can get multiple lines of analysis by clicking the + button to the right of the engine analysis window. The "!" key, incidentally, shows you the threat in any position, which is incredibly useful in the case of unclear moves.

There is one more thing you can do. It is a lot of fun, but also a serious challenge: Click on the rook icon below the notation window. This will allow you the play the above position against Fritz, at your level of playing strength (e.g. "Club Player"), right here on the news page. Note that your analysis, in which you can delete, move or promote lines, is stored in the notation as new variations. In the end you will find the game with your analysis in the cloud. So nothing is ever lost.

Anish Giri about Sagar's YouTube channel

Did you enjoy this and other Sagar videos we have posted? Well top-ten GM Anish Giri certainly does, as he effusively explains:

"At some stage I was watching only this channel, and I was laughing non-stop. His interviews are absolute gold. Sagar is a great teacher, he knows exactly what you guys don't understand and what is important for learning. It's really, really good stuff."

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Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.


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