World Youth Chess Olympiad: Another fine show by Nihal

Nihal Sarin not merely helped the main team of India finish runner-up, but won an individual gold medal on the third board as well.

Nihal Sarin at the World Youth Chess Olympiad at Ahmedabad.   -  P. K. AJITH KUMAR

Nihal Sarin was one of the youngest participants at the World Youth Chess Olympiad, which concluded here on Monday. He was also one of its biggest attractions. That wasn’t greatly surprising, though. The tournament was for players below the age of 16 and he is only 13. Besides, he is pretty well known in chess circles as one of the prodigies.

The Thrissur lad lived up to the expectations at the event. He not merely helped the main team of India finish runner-up, but won an individual gold medal on the third board as well.“It felt great to win the individual medal, which came as a complete surprise," Nihal told Sportstar.

"This was my first ever team championship and it was a nice experience."

He added he was happy with the way he played. "I met some strong players," he said. "I am glad that I could contribute to my team's victory."

Nihal has made rapid strides on the chessboard since winning the National Under-9 championship in Chennai in 2013. He went on to win the World Under-10 titles in both the classical and blitz formats, besides finishing runner-up at the World Under-12 championship.

His focus is  more on the senior events, these days. Rightly so.

Read: India Green finishes runner-up

Last April, he scored his maiden Grandmaster norm. Getting the norm at the age of 12 is a remarkable feat. He has also crossed 2500 Elo points, which is mandatory for the Grandmaster title.

He is disappointed though that he missed the norm narrowly on a couple of occasions during his recent tour of Europe. "Maybe I was playing with the thoughts of getting the norm," he said with a smile.

"Now I am going to focus just on my game."

He will soon have another opportunity to have a go at the norm. He will be playing at the Rilton Cup in Sweden, starting on December 27.