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Nihal Sarin triumphs at Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Rapid with a round to spare

by Shahid Ahmed - 01/12/2022

Nihal Sarin delivered his career best performance to win Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Rapid with a round to spare. Until the final round, he was the only player who remained unscathed. It was fitting that his best friend and the defending champion, Arjun Erigaisi became the sole person to win against the champion. The 18-year-old delivered his career best performance to win the strongest tournament he has ever participated so far. Arjun Erigaisi finished a half point behind Nihal at 6/9, five players finished at 4.5/9. They are - Vidit Gujrathi, Hikaru Nakamura, D Gukesh, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Nodirbek Abdusattorov. Vidit was adjudged third according to tie-breaks. Tomorrow 2nd December is a rest day. The Blitz tournament starts on Saturday 3rd December from 4 p.m. IST. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Nihal Sarin delivers his career best, India claims the podium

It has been 16 months since Nihal Sarin won his last event at Biel GMT Blitz 2021. It was part of the Grandmaster Triathlon (GMT). A complete tournament triumph was in July at Serbia Masters 2021. One must not forget Nihal's stellar unbeaten 7.5/10 performance at the 44th Chess Olympiad. However, winning a super tournament as his first triumph in a long time, is undoubtedly special. If Gukesh, Arjun Erigaisi and Praggnanandhaa have announced their arrival at the big stage then Nihal cements the position of the Indian teenagers. Speaking of big stage, Tata Steel Challengers 2023 has announced three out of 14 names so far - GM Abhimanyu Mishra (USA), GM M Amin Tabatabaei (IRI) and GM Luis Paulo Supi (BRA). Out of the remaining 11, one of them has to be the local favorite and prodigy, 16-year-old, IM Eline Roebers (NED). She won the individual Silver on Board no.1 at the 44th Chess Olympiad and recently became IM directly without having any previous titles. Thus, it leaves 10 places, one of them certainly should go towards Nihal. He has earned it.

Nihal Sarin wins his first super tournament with a career best performance | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Top 3 (L to R) in Rapid - 2nd GM Arjun Erigaisi, 1st GM Nihal Sarin and 3rd GM Vidit Gujrathi | Photo: ChessBase India

Round 7: Nihal shocks Shakh

Nihal Sarin (2616) started the day with a very nice victory over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE, 2747).

Mamedyarov - Nihal

Position after 24.Rc2

24.Rc2 exposed White's backrank weakness. Nihal is tactically alert. He found a very nice backward move 24...Ne7 25.a3 Bxa3 26.Rd2 Bb4 27.Rd3 Nf5 28.Bb2 Rxd3 29.Bxd3 Qd5 and things finished in a hurry due to the weakness on the long diagonal caused by the queen and bishop battery.

The Nihalation of Shakh - Mamedyarov vs Nihal | Video: ChessBase India

Nihal's favorite game of the event is his win against the former World Rapid champion, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Round 8: Nihal wins the tournament, Arjun beats Nakamura

Arjun Erigaisi (2628) won an extremely complex game against Hikaru Nakamura (2789). If you are like me, who likes the famous words of Tal, "You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one.", you are certainly in a for a ride.

When Arjun Erigaisi channeled his inner Tal | Video: ChessBase India
Final moments of Nihal becoming the Tata Steel India 2022 Rapid champion | Video: ChessBase India

Nihal Sarin en route his win against Parham Maghsoodloo (IRI) and the tournament too | Photo: Lennart Ootes

That's the determination of the boy who is ready to conquer many things ahead | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Did I just win the tournament !? | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Vidit - So

Position after 33.Qc7

33.Qc7 created a beautiful combination for Black. If you like extreme calculations, this will certainly whet your appetite. The first candidate move 33...e3 is quite easy to find. However, the real challenge is finding the follow through. Black went 33...Nf8 and the game meandered into a draw.

Round 9: Battle of the best friends

The defending champion Arjun Erigaisi who lost his crown after his very close friend Nihal Sarin won the tournament in the penultimate round, went on to beat him. In the Press Conference, Arjun shared one of the lines which prompted Vishy Anand to say, "That is simply one of the most beautiful lines I have ever heard..."

Arjun - Nihal

Position after 28.c5

28...Rxd4 29.c6 bxc6 30.Rxc6 upto this point was Arjun's preparation as he mentioned in the press conference. He also shared a beautiful variation 28...Nd3 which led to the maestro saying the above-mentioned lines (before the diagram).

What happens when the Hyperbullet mates face each other? | Video: ChessBase India

Arjun almost played in his hyperbullet style against Nihal as more than half of the game was his preparation | Photo: Amruta Mokal
Press Conference after Round 9 | Video: ChessBase India
Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Open Rapid | Round 7-9 Live commentary by IM Sagar Shah and IM Tania Sachdev | Video: ChessBase India
Moments before the start of the Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Round 7 | Video: ChessBase India
Starting moments of Round 7 | Video: ChessBase India

Replay Round 7-9 games

Round 7-9 results

Round 7 on 2022/12/01 at 1600 h
Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.
GMGukesh D½ - ½GMNakamura Hikaru
GMSethuraman S.P.½ - ½GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi
GMSo Wesley0 - 1GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek
GMMamedyarov Shakhriyar0 - 1GMNihal Sarin
GMMaghsoodloo Parham½ - ½GMErigaisi Arjun
Round 8 on 2022/12/01 at 1700 h
Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.
GMNakamura Hikaru0 - 1GMErigaisi Arjun
GMNihal Sarin1 - 0GMMaghsoodloo Parham
GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek½ - ½GMMamedyarov Shakhriyar
GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi½ - ½GMSo Wesley
GMGukesh D1 - 0GMSethuraman S.P.
Round 9 on 2022/12/01 at 1800 h
Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.
GMSethuraman S.P.0 - 1GMNakamura Hikaru
GMSo Wesley1 - 0GMGukesh D
GMMamedyarov Shakhriyar½ - ½GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi
GMMaghsoodloo Parham½ - ½GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek
GMErigaisi Arjun1 - 0GMNihal Sarin


Final standings after Round 9

Rk.SNo NameRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 Krtg+/-
GMNihal Sarin26166,5026,00532055,4
GMErigaisi Arjun26286028,50422042,4
GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi26624,52,519,2511203,2
GMNakamura Hikaru27894,5218,253120-30,4
GMGukesh D26324,5218,00312011
GMMamedyarov Shakhriyar27474,5217,003220-19,8
GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek26764,51,518,003120-0,8
GMMaghsoodloo Parham26564115,752120-5,4
GMSo Wesley27844018,502120-39,2
GMSethuraman S.P.25452010,251120-16,4



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