Nihal Sarin to sign biggest sponsorship deal after Anand

Akshayakalpa will support the Kerala prodigy on a long-term basis.

The sponsorship will allow Nihal Sarin (in picture) to play in the big-ticket tournaments round the world and work with leading trainers.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Nihal Sarin will sign on Wednesday what could well be the biggest sponsorship deal for an Indian chess player after Viswanathan Anand. Akshayakapla, the Bengaluru-based manufacturer of organic milk, will support the 15-year-old in his quest to become a world-class player.

The sponsorship will help Nihal play in the world’s best tournaments and work with the leading trainers. “A sponsorship like this was something what he needed,” Nihal’s manager Priyadarshan Banjan told Sportstar. “It is a long-term sponsorship and is a big step forward for Nihal. It will increase his chances of succeeding at the highest level.”

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Though all you need is an inexpensive chessboard to play the game, chess is a very costly affair at the highest level. Since Nihal comes from a middle-class family based at Thrissur in Kerala, he needs this kind of a support to realise his potential.

Apart from the scholarship he received for two years and a half from Tata Trusts, he hasn’t had a major sponsor. “We are happy that Akshayakalpa has come on board at this point of Nihal’s career,” said Priyadarshan. “The CEO of the company, Shashi Kumar, is himself a chess player. Interestingly enough, he had played Nihal in a tournament at Bengaluru, which was sponsored by Akshayakalpa.”

Nihal, who became the world’s third youngest to cross 2600 Elo rating last June, will leave for Russia on Thursday, to play in the World Cup, to be held at Khanty-Mansiysk from September 9.