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14-year-old Nihal Sarin raises Rs.1,74,463 through ChessBase India show for Kerala

by Sagar Shah - 30/08/2018

Age doesn't matter, it is the willingness that counts. 14-year-old GM Nihal Sarin, the third grandmaster from the state of Kerala raised funds for the victims of the devastating flood that took place in the state a few days ago through a show with IM Sagar Shah that was held on the ChessBase India Youtube Channel. Vishy Anand was the first person to contribute towards the show, and India number one Koneru Humpy came forward with a mammoth contribution of Rs.25,000. The total amount collected and donated to Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund was Rs. 1,74,463. We thank the entire chess community for their generosity. In this article we tell you about the donors, but also about the one hour 40 minute show that left us all proud of Nihal's kindness as well as chess acumen. 

Kerala was and is still reeling under the effects of a horrible flood. There was a severe loss for the people affected by the floods right from losing their house, money and almost everything that was dear to them. As per the latest report 474 people lost their lives.The loss to the state stands at a mammoth Rs.20,000 crore. In such a situation ChessBase India decided to do its bit for the victims. We approached the recently minted GM from the state of Kerala Nihal Sarin and asked him if he would be fine to do a fundraising live show. The idea of the show was to look at some of Nihal’s best games, show the chess world why the little boy is so talented and at the same time raise funds for the victims of Kerala. On the next day the show was announced Vishy Anand, who was playing at the Sinquefield Cup 2018, came forward to support the cause. He was the first person to contribute and pledged Rs.15,000 towards the show. Money started to flow in before the show and the a lot of people contributed even after the live show was over on 22nd of August 2018. The total amount that we collected was Rs.1,64,289. All of the money has been donated to Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund.

This is how the show looked on the screen. We kept only the audio stream for Nihal and not his video as the internet connection in Thrissur was still not the best.

We have to thank Nihal for his efforts. The boy finished Abu Dhabi Open on 15th of August, but couldn't reach home as the Kochi airport was closed. He changed his plans and went to play a blitz tournament in Dubai. He did well and finished second behind GM Vladimir Fedoseev and then somehow managed to land at Kozhikode airport. He made his way back home in Thrissur where there were huge electricity problems. But Nihal wanted to do the show and his father Dr. Sarin made sure that all the logistics were in place.

One day before the show, Nihal and his father making sure that nothing goes wrong on the big day

The show went on for one hour forty minutes and we received a lot of donations. On 23rd of August we closed the links and the final amount that ChessBase India collected was Rs.1,74,463. Here's a breakup of all the people who contributed:

Total donations received:

1 Koneru Humpy 25000
2 Nihal Sarin 15000
3 JJ 12463
4 Praggnanandhaa R 10000
5 Vaishali R 10000
6 Ramaraju .N 10000
7 Nazim 10000
8 Dharmen Shah 10000
9 Uma Maheswari Sundaresan Ganesan 7500
10 Swapnil Sushil Behere 5001
11 WIM Tejaswini Sagar 5000
12 Ashwin Subramanian 5000
13 Sagir 5000
14 Deven Bhalerao 500
15 Thippesh 2000
16 Saptarshi Nag 1200
17 Zeenath P M 1000
19 Akshay Shegaonkar 500
20 Prakruthi N 3000
21 Narendra Khandekar 1000
22 Roshni Sagir 3000
24 Sunil D Mokal 1000
25 Deepak Raj Uk 100
26 Dr Biju Ephrem 1000
27 harsha 400
28 Vikrant Malvankar 500
29 Jos Paul Davis 500
30 Sibi and Akira 1000
31 Subhayan Kundu 500
32 Gokul Gopalakrishnan 1000
33 mayank janakrai dave 1000
34 Moksh Doshi 1500
35 Mahesh Parab 1000
36 Nikhil Dixit 100
37 Chethan Anand 1000
38 Chethan Anand 40
39 Kaivalya Patkar 100
40 Sandeep Sudheendhra 400
41 prathisrihas reddy 1,156.06
42 Vihang Dixit 100
43 -CreAtoR- 450
44 Saket Kumar 400
45 Dan Patil 40
46 Maheshkumar Kudre 1000
47 Avathanshu Bhat 400
48 srivathsa harish 1800
49 ChessBase India 4539
50 Shameer Ummer 9174
51 Unknown 1000
  Total 174463

Letter received from the Government of Kerala for the contribution made by ChessBase India

The receipt sent by Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund

A big thanks to Vishy and Aruna Anand for ensuring that the show gets maximum visibility due to their support

A big thanks to India no.1 Humpy Koneru for donating Rs.25,000 towards the cause. We will soon see her in action at the Batumi Olympiad 2018 after a gap of two years | Photo: Humpy Koneru

The boy himself contributed Rs.15,000 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

It was very nice to see two of India's biggest stars Praggnanandhaa and Vaishali come forward and donate Rs.10,000 each | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Coach of Harika, Ramaraju donated Rs.10,000

We thank all the donors for their contribution. The amount is secondary, your willingness to come forward and donate towards the cause is what is more important. Having nearly 50 people contribute in such a short time frame truly is an achievement by the entire chess family.


Note: On social media we mentioned that the amount received by us was Rs. 1,64,289. A day later we received Rs. 10,174 which we added to the tally and made the donation to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund.

The ChessBase India show with IM Nihal Sarin:

Coming to the chess part of the show, I must say that I was floored seeing the boy's talent. He was simply amazing and found moves and ideas at the speed of lightning. We began from games early in his career.

Abdusattorov Nodirbek - Nihal Sarin, 2015

White has just moved his king to b1. What did Nihal play?

In this game Nodirbek was clearly the favourite. He was rated 2420, and Nihal had a rating of 2096. But Nihal managed to completely outplay his opponent by starting off with ...Rxc3! sacrifice. For the boy, this was extremely natural and he followed it up with a later d5 and made use of all the weaknesses in the position.

Nihal Sarin vs Praggnanandhaa, 2014

A game between two of India's biggest talents. It's Nihal (White) to move. What was the unique idea he found here?

A lot of moves were suggested during the live show including Bg3 or Nf3 but very few people could get the idea that Nihal had executed, which was to play g3! It may not be objectively the strongest move in the position, but the idea is quite fresh. When Pragg took on f4, Nihal took it back with his g-pawn, and could then move his king to h1 and use the g-file for his rook if he liked.

This game also reminds me of a similar idea executed by Viktor Korchnoi in one of his final events at the Gibraltar Masters. Korchnoi sacrificed a piece, but his idea was similar to what Nihal did against Praggnanandhaa.

Nihal Sarin vs Evgeny Postny, Fagernes 2017

Black has just played the move ...h5. How did Nihal finish off the game? One of his famous moves till date.

In this position Nihal found the very striking idea of going f4! with the idea that the rook will now be guarded on the g1 square by the bishop. The end was very swift and Nihal scored his first win against a 2600+ GM.

Nihal Sarin vs Balokas, Zalakaros Open 2016

Nihal has been a pawn up for quite some time but making progress has not been easy mainly because of the active black queen and also the exposed white monarch. In this position Nihal found an idea a la Nigel Short! Can you do the same?

Nihal raced his king up the board in this position with Kf4! Instead of using his king as a defensive unit and cowering behind the pawns, he used it as an aggressive piece and took it all the way to e7 and executed mate on the black king. Although, not as spectacular as Nigel Short's win against Jan Timman, this game surely makes an impression.

For all those who haven't seen Nigel's king walk against Timman, here's the game:

Nihal Sarin vs Adly Ahmed, Reykjavik 2018

Black has just played the move Bd6. The natural move for anyone would be to take the bishop on d6 with the knight. But Nihal had different plans in his mind. He played something that made use of the c6 square weakness. What was it?

Nihal didn't make the most natural move. He thought carefully and found the very strong dxc5. The point is that ...Bxf4 is met with the extremely strong move c6! Nihal went on to win the game showing some high class technical chess.

How good is Nihal Sarin?

Well, how can one gauge the strength of a chess player? His games are a natural source of information. One can look at Nihal's games and conclude that he is extremely strong. But what I like to do is give positions to talented players (to solve), which I have solved before. I remember the errors I had made, the time it had taken me to come to the right answer, and then seeing the thought process of players like Nihal I can judge how exceptionally talented they are! Let's have a look at the first position: 

If you want to test yourself, just take this position, setup a clock and see how long it takes you to find the best move for Black in this position

White in this position has a few threats. One of them is to play the move Nf6+ and win the rook on a8 and the other is to play b4 to activate his bishop on a3. When I tried solving this position, it took me a long time to come to the correct answer. I was proud that I had found the right answer. But when I gave this position to Nihal on the show. He thought for around 20 seconds and I told him, "Nihal can you think out aloud what is going through your head, so that people know how you calculate?" And he said, "Yes, I think ...a5 is possible!" I was astounded! That was the right answer. ...a5 kills two birds at the same time. It stops b4 and at the same time Nf6+ Bxf6 Bxa8 Bd7 means that there is no longer Qxa7 and Black wins two pieces for a rook! When you see the right answer, it all seems pretty simple. But when you think at the board, it is not so clear whether ...Nd5 is correct or should I move the king from g8 or should I play ...Bd7. Nihal spotted what was the most important point in the position in a jiffy and suggested the move ...a5. That's why I think he has a terrific positional feel.


Coming to the second position. I wanted to see something tactical and even here Nihal was right at the top of his game. Try your hand at this one:


Sandipan Chanda vs Nabaty Tamir

In the above position White is better. He can proceed normally and have a clear edge. But Chanda spotted a tactic. He saw that Nxd5 was interesting and played it. After three moves Nabaty resigned. But he could have held on and defended much better. Can you find the correct sequence of moves that leads to an advantage to Black after Nxd5?

Watch the entire one hour 40 minute show:

In the last 15 minutes of the show we had a quiz contest where the people who gave right answers about different pictures of Nihal's life got prizes. The prizes include souvenirs signed by Vishy Anand. These will be sent to the address of the people in due course. But please bear in mind that we are giving the prizes to the first person to answer the question. This is noted down on our system and based on that we are giving away the prizes. 

Question 1: Who is the boy shaking hands with Nihal?

Answer: It's Abdusattorov Nodirbek and the right answer was given by Suneeta Bhattacharya.

Question 2: Who is with Nihal in this picture?

Answer: It's Nirmal EP, Nihal's second coach and the one who made an immense difference to his chess career. The right answer was given by Vinay Abraham Thomas.

Question 3: Nihal is standing in the picture with his sister Neha. Who is the person holding both of them?

Answer: That's GM Dimitry Komarov, Nihal's coach who has guided him along with Nirmal. The right answer was given by Mansoor Majeed.

Question 4: Nihal's friend, playing partner and a person who helps him grow as a player. Who is he?

Answer: That's GM Srinath Narayanan and the right answer was given by Rohit Ravindran

Question 5: He is one of the biggest endgame experts in the world. Who is he?

Answer: That's GM Ulf Andersson and the right answer was given by Chemikala Rajasekhara Reddy.

Question 6: Who is it standing with Nihal and his sister?

Answer: That's Mathew Pottoore, Nihal's first coach and the man who found his talent. The right answer was given by Abdu Yaar.

Question 7: Which is the school that Nihal goes to?

Answer: It's the Devmatha CMI Public school and the right answer was given by Jin Geo.

Question 8: He is a famous personality in the world of chess and one of the reasons why ChessBase India exists today! Who is he?

Answer: That's Frederic Friedel, the co-founder of ChessBase back in 1985. Nihal met him and spent some time when he was in Hamburg at the ChessBase office. The right answer was given by -CreAtor-.

Question 9: Name all the talents in this picture?

Answer: Most of the people could get four of them correct - Praggnanandhaa, Nihal Sarin, Vincent Keymer and Abdusattarov Nodirbek (right) But no one could recognize the boy in the red jacket. The right answer is David Peng, and was given by Priyadarshan Banjan. But as Priyadarshan is one who provided us with this photo in the first place, he doesn't win the prize! :)


All the prize winners mentioned above please write your address to us on It might take some time for us to send the prizes to you as we want to send them with the autograph of Vishy Anand, but you will receive them soon. Thank you for your patience.


On behalf of ChessBase India, I thank everyone who made this fund raiser a memorable one. When united we can achieve wonders!

Other chess players who have contributed towards the Kerala floods:

Arjun Erigaisi, India's 54th GM contributed Rs.50,000 of his prize money towards Kerala flood victims which was handed over to Warangal district collector Amrapali garu.

Swaha and Brahma are both chess players who have played at the state level for Kerala. They both convinced their father to donate one acre of land. Read about their inspiring story here.

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