Nihal Sarin is an Indian chess player and a chess prodigy who is known for qualifying the Elo rating mark of 2600 at the age of fourteen in 2019. He also became the fourth youngest player to cross the Elo rating mark of 2600.
Nihal Sarin was born on Tuesday, 13 July 2004 (age 18 years; as of 2022) in Thrissur, Kerala. His zodiac sign is Cancer. He attended Excelsior English School, Kottayam and Devamatha CMI Public School, Thrissur.
Height (approx.): 5′ 3″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Nihal’s father’s name is Sarin Abdulsalam, who is a dermatologist.
His mother’s name is Shijin Ammanam Veetil Ummar, who is a psychiatrist.
He has a younger sister, Neha Sarin.
Nihal started playing chess at the age of six. In 2011, he won the Kerala state championship in the U-7 category, U-9 category twice, U-11 category twice and U-15 category once. He became the U-9 champion in 2013 in Chennai. In 2014, he participated in the World Youth Chess Championship in the Under-10 category and won the title of Candidate Master (CM) by FIDE.
In 2015, he crossed the ELO rating of 2300 and won the title of FIDE Master by the World Chess Federation.
In 2015, he qualified to represent Kerala in the National Challengers Championship after becoming the runner-up in the National Challengers Championship. He registered International Master’s norm thrice in 2016 at Cappelle la Grande Open, in 2016 at Sunway Sitges Open, and in 2017 at Aeroflot B Open.
His ELO rating increased from 2300 to 2500 in the TV2 Fagernes International 2017 tournament. In 2016, he received his first grandmaster title in Hasselbacken Open and second in Reykjavik Open in 2018.
In July 2018, he played his first game in Isbank Turkish Super League.
In August 2018, he gained the title of 53rd grandmaster of India and became the twelfth youngest grandmaster at the Abu Dhabi Masters tournament. In January 2020, he played the TATA Steel Challengers tournament. In the same year, he won other tournaments including Junior Speed Chess Championship (JSCC), Capechecs Online, Super Juniors Cup and World Youth Chess Championship. In December 2020, he became the under-18 World Youth Chess Champion. In 2020, he won the U-19 category World Youth Chess Champion. In 2021, he won various tournaments including Silver Lake Open, Serbia Open Masters, and Junior Speed Chess Championship.
- 2013: World Blitz Under-10 Championship
- 2014: Asian Youth Under-10 Championship
- 2014: Asian Youth Blitz Chess Championship
- 2017: World Youth Chess Olympiad
- 2020: FIDE Online Chess Olympiad
- 2015: National Under-11 Championship
- 2015: World Youth Chess Under-12 Championship
- 2020: Asian Teams Online Championship
- 2016: National Child Award For Exceptional Achievement
- 2020: Gazprom Brilliancy Prize
- He follows a non-vegetarian diet.
- According to his parents, Nihal was very intelligent since childhood. He could recognize the flag of 190 countries when he was three years old. He also used to recognize the names of insects and plants. He could fluently speak English when he was in upper kindergarten. He know the tables till sixteen when he was in class one.
- In 2011, he shifted to Kerala from Kottayam. During his summer vacations, his father bought him a game of chess to spend time in summer vacations. His grandfather taught him the rules of the game. After his summer vacation, when he went to school, he took coaching from coach Mathew P. Joseph Pottoore twice a week. In an interview, he talked about this and said,
After I learnt to play chess from my grandfather, I was lucky to be in a school where chess was taught as a subject. My first successes were the usual ones — win state-level tournaments, national-level events, and world youth medals. Then I began to beat grandmasters. I keep playing as much as possible and I try to win all the games.”
- His first tournament was at the age of six. In an interview, his coach said that he had to reach the table by sitting on three chairs.
- When he was eight years old, he held the position of state under-19 runner-up. He became the runner-up again at the age of ten.
- On 8 May 2016, the website Chess-DB telecasted his game at the Hasselbacken Open as ‘Game of the Day.’
- In 2018, he participated in TATA Steel Rapid Championship and competed against Viswanathan Anand. In an interview, Viswanathan Anand talked about Nihal and said,
Going by the evidence so far, I would not rule it out (Nihal becoming a world champion in future). It’s a long journey forward. At the end, he is just 14. I felt that he would really struggle in this tournament and he would be a bit out of place. It seemed the opposite. He seemed quite comfortable here. Not fully there, but he’s a huge talent what I’ve seen of him.”
- In April 2021, he received training from Judit Polgár and Vladimir Kramnik.
- On 19 April 2021, he defeated world champion, Magnus Carlsen, in a Blitz format.
- Nihal received training from various coaches including Dimitri Komarov, Srinath Narayanan, and Viswanathan Anand.
- He organizes various exhibitions to promote chess.
- In 2015, he was called on the Malayalam TV quiz show Aswamedham as a guest competitor.
- In 2018, he conducted a YouTube live show and donated Rs. 1, 74,463 for help in the Kerala floods.
- In 2018, he contributes Rs. 1, 74,463 as aid to Kerala floods through a live YouTube show.
- Since 2019, he is sponsored by Akshayakalpa, an Indian Organic Milk Company.
- In an interview, he talked about his experience of the online chess olympiad and said,
I did have certain advantages in terms of faster time controls. But my opponents were equally efficient as most of them have some experience playing online. It is all about handling pressure moments consistently. Of course, chances of cheating are higher online but the organisers take precautions to avoid the same. It would be best to constantly improve anti-cheating measures.”