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13-year-old is taking India's strongest rapid event by storm

by Sagar Shah - 06/08/2017

The top seed is Vidit Gujrathi, then we have Sethuraman, after that Abhijeet Gupta, Deep Sengupta, Aravindh Chithambaram, Karthikeyan Murali, the list of super strong GMs playing at the ChessMine Rapid is almost never ending! But guess who is leading the tournament with a score of 6.0/6? 13-year-old Nihal Sarin! The boy from Kerala was on fire at the first day as he showcased some brilliant chess to shoot into joint lead along with G.N. Gopal and Girish Koushik. We have the day one report from India's strongest ever Rapid Rating tournament.

466 players from all over the country are participating. 15 Grand Masters, Two Women Grand Masters, 25 International Masters and three Women International Masters are in the fray to win the ChessMine rapid tournament 2017. This is the strongest ever rapid rated chess tournament that has ever happened on Indian soil.

India number three Vidit Gujrathi, with a rapid rating of 2718 is here
Two Delhi boys and one from Chennai! Sahaj Grover, Commonwealth Champion Abhijeet Gupta and Former Asian Champion S.P. Sethuraman
G.N. Gopal and Deep Sengupta in the centre flanked by Sethuraman and India's top blind player Ashwin Makvana
Two boys who are soon to break into 2600 zone - Aravindh Chithambaram and Karthikeyan Murali
Top players from Maharashtra GM Abhijit Kunte, Abhishek Kelkarm Abhimanyu Puranik and Shardul Gagare.
So many stars, so many top players, so many grandmasters! And who is the one leading the tournament? 13-year-old prodigy Nihal Sarin! The International-Master-in-waiting, Nihal stole the thunder by winning six games out of six rounds to emerge as a joint leader along with G.N. Gopal at the ChessMine Rapid.
6.0/6 - Nihal Sarin! (photo by Lennart Ootes)
Just to give you an idea of how important Nihal is for Indian chess, here's my conversation with top Armenian grandmaster, and Aronian's second Tigran Gharamian that took place today in Belgium.
Author of these lines analyzing a rook ending with top Armenian GM Tigran Gharamian
After analyzing a rook endgame, I was talking with Tigran and telling him about the huge chess boom that is taking place in India. "Who is that young boy in Indian chess that everyone is talking about?" Praggnanandhaa! I replied. "No, the other one," said Tigran. Nihal? "Yes Nihal! I saw him at the Capelle Open in France, and the boy was just playing to beat each and every opponent that he played. He had absolutely no fear! I knew right then that he would be become a big star!" said Gharamian.
When I used to travel to foregin countries a few years ago, everyone used to speak about Anand. People still speak about Vishy. He is the darling of Indian chess. But I would not be exaggerating if i said that Nihal and Pragg get mentioned in a conversation nowadays as much as Anand and Hari, if not more! Truly these boys are gems of Indian chess. We must ensure that we are able to uncover their true potential and help them in every possible way to move towards the World Champion's title.
Coming back to the day one of the ChessMine Rapid tournament in Bangalore. 
Mr Gopinath Naidu CG, Propriter, SG Marriage Hall, Seegehalli, Magadi Road and Mrs Sharada Gopinath inaugurated the FIDE Rated tournament by making the first move on the first board.

On a day that witnessed the downfall of most of the top seeds one way or the other, Grandmaster G. N. Gopal was the only one among the top thirty rated to remain unscathed. Gopal, Nihal and local lad Girish Koushik share the lead with six points apiece at the end of the opening day of this Rs. 4,50,000/- prize money tournament.

The star of the day however was Nihal, as the 68th seed in a field of over 450 participants, played his moves in the most outstanding manner and among his victims were Grandmaster RR Laxman, Gahan M.G, Sai Krishna G.V and Deepan Chakkravarthy in the sixth round.

Girish Koushik also showed sublime form and proved why he is hailed as Karnataka's super talent by outwitting grandmaster Deep Sengupta and IM Satyapragyan. G.N.Gopal has been clinical in beating strong rapid players like Nubairshah Sheikh and Abhimanyu Puranik, but his real testwill begin from tomorrow as he takes on Nihal Sarin in the seventh round.

The star attraction top seed Grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi started the day on a positive note but could not maintain the same momentum. Ranked in the top fifty in world ranking in Classical chess, Vidit first faced a challenge from Tamilnadu star GM Aravind Chithambaram and drew in the fourth round and then in the sixth lost to Delhi’s Hemant Sharma.

Vidit Gujrathi was not the only one to realise that the faster version of the game carries greater pitfalls. Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta, National blitz champion R R Laxman, GM Sahaj Grover and GM Pravin Thipsay all find themselves in a similar boat on 4.5 points each and are in a must win situation in the remaining games for a podium finish.

With three leaders at the helm and just four rounds remaining, the final day of the rapid on Sunday is expected to be a mouth-watering contest between some of the best players in our country.

Rank after Round 6

Rk. SNo   Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 68 FM Nihal Sarin IND 2032 6,0 0,0 22,5 19,5
2 5 GM Gopal G.N. IND 2538 6,0 0,0 22,0 18,5
3 34 IM Girish A. Koushik IND 2319 6,0 0,0 20,5 17,0
4 35 FM Rathanvel V S IND 2319 5,5 0,0 21,0 17,5
5 38 GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. IND 2296 5,5 0,0 20,5 17,5
6 28   Hemant Sharma (del) IND 2335 5,5 0,0 20,5 17,0
7 37 IM Rajesh V A V IND 2301 5,5 0,0 20,0 16,5
8 13 GM Deepan Chakkravarthy J. IND 2452 5,0 0,0 24,0 21,0
9 7 GM Sengupta Deep IND 2529 5,0 0,0 23,5 20,0
10 17 IM Satyapragyan Swayangsu IND 2388 5,0 0,0 23,0 19,0
11 26   Gahan M G IND 2345 5,0 0,0 22,0 18,0
12 30 IM Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh IND 2331 5,0 0,0 21,5 18,5
13 21 GM Sriram Jha IND 2372 5,0 0,0 21,5 17,5
14 27 IM Puranik Abhimanyu IND 2343 5,0 0,0 21,0 18,0
15 3 IM Swayams Mishra IND 2569 5,0 0,0 21,0 17,5
16 24 FM Sai Krishna G V IND 2369 5,0 0,0 21,0 17,5
17 48 IM Kathmale Sameer IND 2217 5,0 0,0 21,0 17,0
18 44   Arvind Shastry IND 2245 5,0 0,0 20,5 17,5
19 40 FM Sadhwani Raunak IND 2269 5,0 0,0 20,5 17,5
20 32 IM Prasad Devaki V IND 2327 5,0 0,0 20,5 17,0

Complete ranking list

Round 7 on 2017/08/06 at 10:00am

Bo. No.   Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts.   Name Rtg No.
1 68 FM Nihal Sarin 2032 6   6 GM Gopal G.N. 2538 5
2 28   Hemant Sharma (del) 2335   6 IM Girish A. Koushik 2319 34
3 35 FM Rathanvel V S 2319   IM Rajesh V A V 2301 37
4 3 IM Swayams Mishra 2569 5   GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 2296 38
5 2 GM Sethuraman S.P. 2600 5   5 GM Karthikeyan Murali 2328 31
6 7 GM Sengupta Deep 2529 5   5 IM Prasad Devaki V 2327 32
7 46   Nirmal E P 2238 5   5 GM Kunte Abhijit 2460 11
8 12 IM Rathnakaran K. 2454 5   5 IM Ravi Teja S. 2291 39
9 40 FM Sadhwani Raunak 2269 5   5 GM Deepan Chakkravarthy J. 2452 13
10 48 IM Kathmale Sameer 2217 5   5 IM Karthikeyan P. 2429 15

Pairing list

A battle that everyone is looking forward to with great interest

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