FIDE Online C'ship: Nihal, Gukesh Rakshitta win gold

Nihal Sarin, D. Gukesh and Rakshitta Ravi are FIDE online age-group World champions; Mrinmoy Rajkhowa adds bronze.

Nihal Sarin claimed his fourth title in three months. - K. K. MUSTAFAH (FILE)

Underlining the growing superiority of Indian youngsters in global age-group competitions, the trio of Nihal Sarin, Rakshitta Ravi and D. Gukesh claimed gold medals and Mrinmoy Rajkhowa added a bronze from the FIDE Online World cadets and youth rapid chess championship late on Tuesday.

Gukesh (under-14), Rakshitaa (girls under-16) and Nihal Sarin (under-18) made it a clean sweep by the Indians in the final while Mrinmoy (under-10) won the bronze-medal match to place India second on the medals tally. The USA topped with four gold, two silver and two bronze medals.


Each match comprised two rapid games, the time-format being 15 minutes to both players plus a 10-second increment for every move made. In case of a 1-1 deadlock, an Armageddon game was played where the player with white pieces had five minutes on the clock against black’s four.

A draw was enough for black to be adjudged the winner.

The luck factor

Nihal, seeded two, claimed his fourth title in three months to end the year on a high note. Having won the Junior Speed Chess, Capechecs Online Karpov Trophy and the Super Juniors Cup recently, Nihal was expected to add another title but eventually needed a slice of luck in both games to emerge as the worthy champion.

Having won his re-scheduled semifinal earlier in the day, Nihal returned to fight for the gold against Armenia’s Shant Sargsyan. In the first game, Nihal was required to defend accurately to draw with black pieces.

In the second, Nihal attained a winning position by the 40th move but three moves later, committed a blunder to slip into a grossly inferior position. But Sargsyan’s 49th move turned the tide back in Nihal’s favour and he went on to seal the gold in 54 moves with a 1.5-0.5 score.

Digging deep

Gukesh battled all the way against the immensely-talented Russian Volodar Murzin before emerging stronger in the Armageddon game.

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The first game was drawn in an equal position. The second one saw the Russian holding the upper hand but Gukesh managing a draw. In the Armageddon game, Gukesh played white and needed to win. He dominated his rival and eventually won when Murzin ran out of time.

Sixth seed Rakshitta was the first to ensure a gold medal for India. After drawing the first game with black pieces, Rakshitta won the second against fourth seeded Chinese Yuxin Song. Rakshitta delivered a tactical blow on the 15th turn, gained a knight in the bargain and won easily for a 1.5-0.5 verdict.

In the din of the gold rush, nine-year-old Mrinmoy Rajkhowa’s brilliant victory in the Armageddon game was pushed to the background. The youngster won the first game against higher-rated American Andy Woodward but lost the marathon second in 107 moves. In the Armageddon game, Mrinmoy played white and toyed with his rival for 57 moves for a 2-1 triumph.

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