chessbase india logo

Nihal Sarin bags clear second at 1st Al Sayyah Blitz

by Aditya Pai - 18/08/2018
Having earned his Grandmaster title recently, Nihal Sarin is making it clear that this is only one of the early milestones of his illustrious career. After his wonderful run in Abu Dhabi, the 14-year-old from Thrissur was seen matching his wits at blitz chess with some very strong grandmasters at the 1st Al Sayyah International Blitz in Dubai. Scoring 7.5/9, Nihal finished clear second, ahead of strong GMs like Salem Saleh, Gabriel Sargissian and Ahmed Adly. 

Sarin adds another feather to his hat in the UAE 

After his stupendous performance at the Abu Dhabi Masters, India’s newly minted Grandmaster, Nihal Sarin pulled off another remarkable finish at the 1st Al Sayyah International Blitz tournament in Dubai, UAE. Scoring 7.5/19, the 14-year-old prodigy finished clear second and took home a cash prize of 600 US Dollars.


The tournament was a nine-round Swiss with a time control of 5 minutes for the entire game with a three-second increment from move 1. The field was headlined by the UAE number won GM Salem AR Saleh (2706) and included some very strong grandmasters like Vladimir Fedoseev, Ahmed Adly and Gabriel Sargissian.

Seeded fifth, Nihal took clear second place scoring seven wins one draw and a loss

Sarin, who was ranked fifth on the starting list, played up to his reputation and started off with five straight wins. While most of these wins were against lower rated players, Nihal had also beaten the third seed of the tournament GM Gabriel Sargissian in the fourth round.


A Classical Queen’s Gambit Accepted had led Sargissian into a much better position with the white pieces. However, a bit of misplay on his part first rendered the position equal and then gave Nihal a decisive advantage.

Position after 26...fxg3

Nihal has just taken on g3 here. Taking the queen looks tempting at the outset but leads to a mess after 27.Nxb6 gxh2 28.Kxh2 Rg2+ 29.Kh3 and 29…Rg6. Sargissian decided to side-step this entirely and took back on g3. Now Nihal could have wrapped things up with 27…Rxg3 but took on b3 with his queen instead.

Position after 27...Qxb3

Of course, Black’s threat is to take on a6 and then collect on c4. White, therefore took on b7 himself. But after 28.Bxb7 Qxb7 29.Ra2, white was just doomed.

Position after 29...Ra2

This time, Nihal did not miss the crushing rook sac on g3. But first, a finesse: Black can’t take on g3 straight as after 29…Rxg3 30.fxg3 Rxg3 31.Kh2, black doesn’t have a good way to continue. Here, however, Nihal found 29…Qe4! The queen joins the attack with a tempo on the white knight. White defended the knight with 30.Rc1 but now 30…Rxg3 was just crushing.

GM Gabriel Sargissian

Two rounds later, Nihal faced his first and only loss of the event against GM Vladimir Fedoseev, the eventual winner of the tournament. In the game, Nihal was better for the most part with the white pieces. By the 26th move, though, the position was equal once again when Nihal simply blundered a piece!

Position after 25.Bxb5

Here, Nihal grabbed on b5 with the bishop. Black simply disrupted the coordination between the queen and the bishop with 26…d3. Nihal had no option but to take on d3. But after 27.Bxd3 Rbd8, white is forced to give up a piece. Even here, Nihal had a way of getting out alive.

Position after 27...Rbd8

White could play 28.Bf5 here and after black takes on d2, white seeks compensation with 29.Qh5. The threat of Rxe6 followed by a queen penetration on g6 gives white more than enough compensation. Nihal tried something similar with 28.Bb1 Qxd2 29.Qe4 Rh8 30.Rxe6, but here black king had enough breathing space.

Nihal suffered his only loss of the event against the World Rapid Championship runner-up, GM Vladimir Fedoseev

Despite this loss, Nihal was heading strongly towards a great finish. By the conclusion of the penultimate round, he had caught up with Fedoseev in the first place and was jointly leading with 7.0/8. In the final round, he had a tough challenge in Brazilian GM Alexandr Fier, who was also in great form in this event. In the penultimate round, Fier had defeated Fedoseev and he was surely not going to be forgiving to Sarin, had he been given a chance.


The game began with an unusual Sicilian in which Fier went blew the war bugle quite early in the game with his 7…g5. Nihal, too, continued energetically but went for a perpetual check on the first opportunity that arose.

Position after 23.Bxb7

Here, Nihal gave up his bishop with 23.Bxb7, making way for his queen to reach h5. Black took back immediately with 23…Qxb7 and after 24.Qh5+ Kf6 25.Kh6 Qh6+, a draw was agreed by perpetual checks.

Nihal drew in a sharp Sicilian against Alexandr Fier in the final round to take clear second!


Rk.SNo NamesexFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 
GMFedoseev VladimirRUS26868,00,055,551,03
IMNihal SarinIND24677,50,055,551,54
GMSargissian GabrielARM26357,00,054,550,54
GMFier AlexandrBRA25697,00,052,549,52
GMLanda KonstantinRUS25517,00,045,041,53
GMAdly AhmedEGY26866,50,051,548,03
GMArencibia Rodriguez WalterCUB24516,50,051,547,53
FMOthman A. MoussaUAE21946,00,052,049,51
IMDimakiling OliverPHI24136,00,051,548,03
IMEl Taher FouadEGY24126,00,049,545,53
Wagh SuyogIND19226,00,049,046,52
FMVillanueva NelsonPHI22796,00,049,045,03
Dr. Murtaza AliPAK20846,00,045,543,03
Andal EdmondPHI19816,00,045,541,52
FMKigigha BomoNGR23376,00,045,042,02
Rayes Abdul KaderSYR20686,00,044,541,52
Dixit NikhilIND19436,00,043,541,53
Uskov AntonKAZ20896,00,043,540,02
Sadeem LodhiPAK18316,00,041,038,51
IMSultan IbrahimUAE21635,50,048,044,51


About the Author 

Aditya Pai is an ardent chess fan, avid reader, and a film lover. He holds a Master's in English Literature and used to work as an advertising copywriter before joining the ChessBase India team.

Contact Us