Nihal Sarin, the Indian Mastermind of Chess

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Nihal Sarin, the Indian Mastermind of Chess

Do you know? The word checkmate originated from the Persian word “Shah Mat” which means the king is dead. Chess can be a real brain-teaser. It is not easy to become a champ of chess it requires practice, dedication. People use various tips and tricks to win it. This brings us to talking about Nihal Sarin, a 16-year-old chess player who recently has won Serbia Open Chess 2021 on 8th July 2021. Here’s everything you need to know about chess genius from India – Nihal Sarin, his childhood, the journey to becoming the world youth champion, and winning the Serbia Chess Open 2021.

Also Read: Benefits of Playing Chess

Nihal Sarin, the Grandmaster of Chess

Source: Chess.Com

Nihal Sarin is an Indian chess player, born on July 13, 2004. He is a chess genius who earned the title of Grandmaster at the age of 14. He is also the fourth-youngest player in history to reach an Elo rating of 2600, having done it at the age of 14.

Nihal Sarin, a member of the Indian team, earned the Gold Medal in the FIDE Chess Olympiad held online in 2020. In 2020, he won the U-18 World Youth Championship, which was held online in a quick style. Nihal became the youngest Indian to play in the World Cup 2019 at the age of 15, making it to the second round.

Born13 July 2004 (age 16)Thrissur, Kerala, India
TitleGrandmaster (GM) (2018)
FIDE rating2620 (July 2021)
Peak rating2655 (July 2021)

Titles Won by Nihal Sarin

Grandmaster (GM)2018
International Master (IM)2017
FIDE Master (FM)2015
Candidate Master (CM)2014

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Childhood of Nihal Sarin

Nihal was born on July 13, 2004, in the Indian state of Kerala. Nihal’s father, Sarin Abdulsalam is a dermatologist and his mother Shijin A.V. Ummar is a psychiatrist. He lived at Kottayam for the first few years of his life. Nihal was always a bright student by the age of three, he could identify the capitals and flags of 190 countries. He had also managed to memorize and recite the scientific names of insects and plants at the same age. He had spoken perfect English by the time he was in upper kindergarten, and by the age of six, having just started first grade, he knew all the multiplication tables until he was sixteen.

Nihal began playing chess when he was six years old. To keep Nihal occupied during school vacations, his father bought him a chess set. His grandfather A. A. Ummar taught him the rules in Kottayam, where he attended Excelsior English School. Nihal was formally taught chess by Mathew P. Joseph Pottoore, the school’s chess coach, who first trained Nihal once a week.

Source: Scroll.in

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First Successes of Nihal Sarin

Nihal had won the Kerala state championship in the Under-07 category once, twice in the Under-09 category, twice in the Under-11 category, and once in the Under-15 (Sub-Junior) category. At the age of ten, he finished second in the state senior Championship in Irinjalakuda in 2015, making him eligible to represent Kerala in the National Challengers Championship. 

At the ages of eight and ten, he was the State Under-19 (Juniors) Runner-up twice. Nihal won the National Under-9 Championship in Chennai in 2013, the National Under-11 Bronze Medal in Puri in 2014, and the National Under-11 Silver Medal in Pondicherry in 2015.

Nihal Sarin: Journey to the World Youth Championship

Nihal earned the gold medal in the Under-10 category at the World Blitz Championships in Al-Ain in 2013. He won the Rapid and Blitz gold medal at the Asian Youth Championships in Tashkent in 2014 in the same category.

Nihal’s first big break came in September 2014, when he won the World Youth Chess Championship in the Under-10 division in Durban, South Africa. He won the Under-10 World Championship with a score of 9/11. FIDE awarded him the title of Candidate Master (CM) in recognition of his achievements. He won silver in the Under-12 division of the World Youth Chess Championship (WYCC, Greece) the following year, after starting as the 28th seed among 202 contestants from 73 countries. 

In the same year that he earned a live Elo rating of 2300, he was awarded the FIDE Master title by the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Nihal tied for second place with three others in the 2016 edition of the competition held in Batumi, Georgia. On tiebreak, he finished fourth. Nihal represented India Green at the World Youth Chess Olympiad in December 2017, helping the country win a silver medal. Onboard three, he also earned an Individual gold. 

Nihal defeated GM Shant Sargsyan of Armenia with a final score of 1.5:0.5 to win the World Online Youth Championships 2020 in the Under-18 category.


Mathew P. Joseph Pottoore, Nihal’s coach, taught him the fundamentals of chess and instilled a love for the game. Mr. M.B. Muralidharan, Prof. N.R. Anil Kumar, Mr. C.T. Pathrose, and K.K. Manikantan assisted him in improving his game from that point forward. From 2013 to 2015, Nihal was trained by E.P. Nirmal, who helped him progress from a raw talent to a rising star.

From 2013 to 2019, he got trained by Dimitri Komarov. Since 2016, he has joined Srinath Narayanan.   Nihal has been working on his game on his own since 2016.  Viswanathan Anand has coached Nihal as part of the WestBridge-Anand Chess Academy since late 2020.

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Winning Serbia Open Chess 2021

Nihal Sarin recently won the Masters division of the Serbia Open Chess Championship in Belgrade on the 8th of July. Nihal Sarin and Igor Kovalenko were tied atop the standings table after seven rounds at the strong Serbia Open held in Belgrade from July 2 to 8. In the eighth round, the two co-leaders faced battle. And Nihal Sarin won the championship. 

Source: Rediffmail

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How Nihal Sarin has Popularised Chess?

Nihal performs simultaneous exhibitions on occasion to popularise the game of chess at the grassroots level. At the age of ten, he competed against 112 opponents of all ages at Thodupuzha, Kerala, winning all of his games. In March 2015, he was a guest competitor on the Malayalam TV quiz show Aswamedham.

Nihal was chosen as one of the beneficiaries of the ‘National Child Award For Exceptional Achievement’ by the then-President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, on Children’s Day in 2016. Nihal Sarin also occasionally streams his chess games on lichess.org and other platforms on YouTube. Nihal has been sponsored by Akshayakalpa, an Indian organic milk company, since 2019.

We congratulate Nihal Sarin for winning the Serbia Open Chess 2021! Stay connected with Leverage Edu for some amazing and useful educational content.

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