Thrissur: Keralite chess prodigy Nihal Sarin added another feather to his cap when he pulled off a surprising 51-move draw against five-time World Champion Viswanathan Anand at the Tata Steel Chess India Rapid tournament in Kolkata on Sunday.
Nihal, who became a Grandmaster at the age of 14 four months ago, held Anand in the eighth round and finished ninth with three points - six draws and three losses in the tournament which was attended by top players from across the world.
Apart from Anand, Nihal forced a draw with some of the heavyweights in the fray, including Russian Grandmaster and former Word Cup runner-up Sergey Karjakin, 2013 World rapid champion Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, and two top-ranked Indians - World No. 25 P Hari Krishna, and World No. 44 Vidit Gujarati.
Son of Dr A Sarin and Dr Shijin A Ummer of Sruthi, Ayyanthole, Nihal became the 12th youngest grandmaster in chess history and only the third from Kerala to join the elite club a few months ago. He is the 53rd Grandmaster of India. Earlier this year, he had become the World No. 1 player in the U-14 category. Last year, he clinched an individual gold medal at the World Youth Chess Olympiad in Ahmedabad and helped India finish runner-up.
“Anand took on Nihal expecting a tough fight from the youngster. Nihal had the advantage of playing with white pieces. After settling for a draw, Anand spent some time with him analysing the game,” said Nihal’s manager Priyadarshan Banjan.
Before heading to Kolkata, Anand had posted a nostalgic tweet about the city saying that it was a favourite place filled with lovely chess memories which always made him feel special. However, the tournament gave the champion player not the happiest memory as he could finish only seventh with eight draws and one loss.
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