chessbase india logo

11-year-old Nihal Sarin has a plan!

by Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam - 27/04/2016

When the third round of Norway Chess 2016 was in progress, the playing hall had more than one World Champion present. Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov were all busy playing their game. However, the media attention was drawn towards the former World under-10 Champion Nihal Sarin. The 11-year-old was in Norway to witness his favourite player Magnus Carlsen in action. We urge more young talents of India and their parents to do something similar to what Nihal has done - visit a super tournament and see the big stars in action. It helps these kids to understand what exactly it takes to be a world class player!

On the day that Magnus Carlsen won a spectacular game against Nils Grandelius at the Altibox Norway Chess tournament (round 3), the Norwegian wasn’t the only World Chess Champion in the Stavanger Forum. On the stage there were of course former champions Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov, but there was one more world champ present. In the audience a small Indian boy of only 11 years closely followed Carlsen’s game. At first Nihal Sarin drew little attention, but as soon as it became known that he had won the U-10 World Championship two years ago in South Africa, and took silver last year in the U-12 section in Greece, he was surrounded by chess enthusiasts and journalists. Before he knew it the Indian boy was standing in front of a camera to be interviewed by TV2.

Two future World Champions?!!

When we talked to him a bit later it was clear that he has become used to attention. Nihal calmly answered all questions and explained what had brought him to Stavanger. He had travelled to Norway after the Dubai Open, where he scored 5 points from 9 games. To his regret he had not beaten any stronger players there, a feat he had pulled off earlier this year at the Open in Cappelle-la-Grande in France. There he scored an International Master norm and for the first time defeated a Grandmaster, the Frenchman Jean-Luc Chabanon. After Dubai his coach had contacted Altibox Norway Chess board member, Jøran Aulin-Jansson, and asked him if he could come to Norway and watch his hero Magnus Carlsen at the Altibox Norway Chess tournament. He was told that he was very welcome and here he was.

Nils Grandelius faced Magnus Carlsen when Nihal was in the tournament hall

The game of Carlsen that he had watched was certainly to his liking. ‘It was a good game, he sacrificed a piece.’ As Nihal plays the sharp King’s Indian Defence, we suggest that he is an attacking player himself, but this meets with a calm and surprisingly mature answer: ‘I play mainly according to the position. Depending on the requirements of the position I will attack or defend or play positionally.’ It’s not the only time he surprises us. When we get to talk about another of his favourite players, the legendary fourth World Champion Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946), he says: ‘I like his attacking style. But nowadays that sort of attack will not work anymore. There is so much theory. At that time there was not much theory, but now there is a lot and many games end in draws.’ To which he adds the reassuring thought that chess is still difficult enough and that there is no reason to fear that all games will end in draws.


Although he wouldn’t mind playing chess all the time, Nihal still goes to school, and if it’s up to his parents he will continue to do so for a long time to come. His favourite subject is math, and yes, he is good at it, but he doesn’t see a connection with chess as people often do.

Nihal with the most solid player on this planet!

Nihal’s mature observations about chess say a lot about the seriousness with which he works on his passion. One of his coaches is the Ukrainian Grandmaster Dimitry Komarov. And when he speaks about his favourite chess books he mentions titles for highly advanced players. ‘I like Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual. And I also like Aagaard’s Strategy books.’

Tough books, for sure, but then Nihal will soon be an International Master. And that’s not where he plan his journey to end. As if it’s a plan that he already decided on several years ago he almost routinely says, ‘I want to get a rating of about 2700.’ And after a small pause he adds, ‘And maybe to become World Champion.’

This experience of meeting the best players in the world will go a long way in motivating Nihal to work harder towards his ultimate aim!

We thank the organisers of Norway Chess 2016 for giving us the permission to republish this article from the official website.

Related news:
अब नॉर्वे शतरंज में नजर आएंगे भारत के गुकेश

@ 15/03/2023 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Gukesh set to battle Carlsen, Nakamura and co. at 11th Norway Chess 2023

@ 14/03/2023 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
John Paul Wallace wins 6th Kragero Resort Open 2023, Leon third

@ 08/03/2023 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Jules Moussard wins Djerba Chess Festival Masters 2023, Nihal Sarin third

@ 04/03/2023 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
No-castling chess: GM Prithu Gupta vs IM Tor Fredrik Kaasen

@ 06/08/2022 by Himank Ghosh (en)
Anand's fantastic performance in Norway Chess!

@ 12/06/2022 by Himank Ghosh (en)
कार्लसन नें रिकॉर्ड 5वीं बार जीता नॉर्वे शतरंज का खिताब

@ 11/06/2022 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Praggnanandhaa wins Norway Chess Open 2022

@ 11/06/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Magnus Carlsen clinches his fifth Norway Chess title, Vishy Anand third

@ 11/06/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
10th Norway Chess 2022 R8: Carlsen survives Maxime scare, Anand blunders

@ 10/06/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
10th Norway Chess 2022 R7: Anand scores, Carlsen loses his third Armageddon

@ 08/06/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
नॉर्वे शतरंज - आनंद ने अनीश से हिसाब किया बराबर

@ 07/06/2022 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
10th Norway Chess 2022 R6: Carlsen gains sole lead, Anand wins Armageddon against Giri

@ 07/06/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
10th Norway Chess 2022 R5: 'The Lightning Kid' Anand conquers Carlsen again

@ 06/06/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
नॉर्वे शतरंज - आनंद के साथ अब कार्लसन भी सयुंक्त बढ़त पर

@ 04/06/2022 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
10th Norway Chess 2022 R4: Wesley So ends Anand's unbeaten streak, Carlsen catches up

@ 04/06/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
10th Norway Chess 2022 R3: Anand beats Hao in Armageddon, maintains sole lead

@ 03/06/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
10th Norway Chess 2022 R2: So beats Carlsen again, Anand reenters World top 10

@ 02/06/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
नॉर्वे शतरंज - आनंद का जलवा कायम ,अब टोपालोव को हराया

@ 02/06/2022 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
एमवीएल को मात दे आनंद नें किया नॉर्वे चैस का आरंभ

@ 01/06/2022 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
10th Norway Chess 2022 R1: Accurate Anand strikes Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

@ 01/06/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
नॉर्वे ब्लिट्ज़ :5 साल बाद आनंद नें दी कार्लसन को मात

@ 31/05/2022 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
10th Norway Chess 2022 Blitz: Anand beats Carlsen for the first time in almost five years

@ 31/05/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Vishy Anand set to clash with Magnus Carlsen and others at 10th Norway Chess 2022 starting today

@ 30/05/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Sanan Sjugirov wins Belgrade GM Tournament 2022, Nihal Sarin second

@ 15/03/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
35th Cannes Chess Festival R1-4: Nihal scores with a brilliant display of attack

@ 24/02/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Vladislav Bakhmatsky wins 38th Cappelle la Grande Open, Nihal Sarin second

@ 19/02/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
38th Cappelle la Grande Open R6-7: Nihal Sarin joins the lead 6.0/7

@ 17/02/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
38th Cappelle la Grande Open R1-5: Nihal's incredible king walk

@ 16/02/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
कार्लसन नें लगातार तीसरी बार जीता "नॉर्वे शतरंज "

@ 18/09/2021 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Magnificent Carlsen does a hat-trick of Norway Chess triumphs

@ 18/09/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
नॉर्वे शतरंज - कार्याकिन को हराकर कार्लसन नें बनाई बढ़त

@ 17/09/2021 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Norway Chess R9: Carlsen scores four in-a-row, takes sole lead

@ 17/09/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
नॉर्वे शतरंज 2021 : क्या कार्लसन लगाएंगे ख़िताबी हैट्रिक

@ 16/09/2021 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Norway Chess R8: Carlsen does a hat-trick by beating Rapport

@ 16/09/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Norway Chess R7: Rapport overcomes Karjakin, moves to World no.6

@ 15/09/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Norway Chess R6: Karjakin gets his revenge against Nepomniachtchi

@ 14/09/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Norway Chess R5: Karjakin beats Carlsen in Classical first time since 2016

@ 13/09/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Norway Chess R4: Carlsen beats Nepomniachtchi in Armageddon

@ 11/09/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Norway Chess R3: Rapport misses his chance against Carlsen

@ 10/09/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Norway Chess R2: Carlsen overcomes the Tari turmoil

@ 09/09/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Norway Chess R1: Carlsen survives a scare, beats Firouzja in Armageddon

@ 08/09/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
नॉर्वे शतरंज अब मई की जगह सितंबर मे होगा

@ 01/04/2021 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
How playing online blitz helped Nihal win the Gazprom Brilliancy Prize

@ 23/01/2021 by Sagar Shah (en)
निहाल सरीन नें जीता गज़प्रोम सर्वश्रेष्ठ खेल पुरूष्कार

@ 21/01/2021 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
अरोनियन से हारकर भी कार्लसन नें जीता नॉर्वे शतरंज

@ 17/10/2020 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Altibox Norway Chess R10: Aronian beats Carlsen

@ 17/10/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
नॉर्वे शतरंज R9 : एक राउंड पहले ही कार्लसन विजेता

@ 16/10/2020 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Carlsen wins Altibox Norway Chess 2020 with a round to spare

@ 16/10/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
नॉर्वे शतरंज R8 : मेगनस कार्लसन नें फिर बनाई बढ़त

@ 14/10/2020 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Altibox Norway Chess R8: Carlsen regains his sole lead

@ 14/10/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Altibox Norway Chess R7: Firouzja maintains his sole lead

@ 13/10/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
नॉर्वे शतरंज R 7 - अलीरेजा फिरौजा की बढ़त बरकरार

@ 13/10/2020 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
नॉर्वे शतरंज R6 : 17 वर्षीय अलीरेजा नें बनाई एकल बढ़त

@ 12/10/2020 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Altibox Norway Chess R6: Carlsen avenges his loss

@ 12/10/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Jan-Krzysztof Duda ends Carlsen's 125-game unbeaten streak

@ 11/10/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
802 दिन बाद : 125 मुकाबलों बाद हारे मेगनस कार्लसन

@ 11/10/2020 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Altibox Norway Chess R4: Carlsen takes sole lead

@ 09/10/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
नॉर्वे शतरंज R4 : करूआना को हरा कार्लसन सबसे आगे

@ 09/10/2020 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
नॉर्वे शतरंज R 3 : मेगनस कार्लसन को मिली पहली जीत

@ 08/10/2020 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Altibox Norway Chess R3: Firouzja beats Caruana in the Armageddon

@ 08/10/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
नॉर्वे शतरंज :R 2 : फबियानों की लगातार दूसरी जीत

@ 07/10/2020 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Altibox Norway Chess R2: Carlsen survives a massive scare

@ 07/10/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Altibox Norway Chess R1: Carlsen starts with an Armageddon victory

@ 06/10/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
कार्लसन के नमस्कार से शुरू हुआ नॉर्वे शतरंज 2020

@ 06/10/2020 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
नॉर्वे शतरंज - 211 दिन बाद :ऑन द बोर्ड कार्लसन

@ 05/10/2020 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Carlsen returns to OTB at Altibox Norway Chess 2020

@ 05/10/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
तैयार हो जाये आ रहा है नॉर्वे शतरंज क्लासिकल

@ 29/09/2020 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
भारत के सुनहरे भविष्य का संकेत : निहाल -प्रग्गानंधा

@ 03/09/2020 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Nihal beats Carlsen for the very first time in a Blitz game

@ 29/05/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Test your calculation with Nihal Sarin

@ 11/04/2020 by Sagar Shah (en)
Nihal Sarin - The second highest paid player in the history of Indian chess?!

@ 04/09/2019 by Sagar Shah (en)
Nihal reveals one of his favorite books

@ 23/07/2019 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
How Magnus Carlsen’s exploits changed chess from a minor sport in Norway to prime time television!

@ 17/06/2019 by Tanmay Srinath (en)
नॉर्वे शतरंज 2019 – मेगनस कार्लसन बने विजेता ! आनंद को सातवाँ स्थान

@ 15/06/2019 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Caruana's London Redemption and Yu Yangyi's Stirring Finish!

@ 15/06/2019 by Tanmay Srinath (en)
Magnus Carlsen wins Norway Chess 2019 with one round to spare!

@ 14/06/2019 by Tanmay Srinath (en)
Carlsen's Cascade and Ding's Annihilator underline an inexorable day!

@ 13/06/2019 by Tanmay Srinath (en)
नॉर्वे शतरंज 2019 - तीन जीत के बाद हारे आनंद

@ 11/06/2019 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Fatigue supersedes brilliance as Carlsen continues to march ahead

@ 11/06/2019 by Tanmay Srinath (en)
Norway 2019 Round 5: Aronian's trickery and Vishy's consecutive Armageddon wins!

@ 10/06/2019 by Tanmay Srinath (en)
Norway 2019 Round 4: The Tiger Roars, while the Mozart of Chess eases through!

@ 09/06/2019 by Tanmay Srinath (en)
From Hollandaise sauce to Salmon, Vishy Anand is unbeatable as a chef!

@ 08/06/2019 by Sagar Shah (en)
नॉर्वे शतरंज 2019 - आनंद की वापसी आगे और चुनौती

@ 08/06/2019 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Norway 2019 Round 3: Carlsen's Alpha Zero Strategy amidst an uncompromising day!

@ 07/06/2019 by Tanmay Srinath (en)
Norway Chess 2019 Round 2: Caruana's Norwegian Immortal and Mamedyarov's Tai-Chi Reversal!

@ 06/06/2019 by Tanmay Srinath (en)
Norway Chess 2019 Round 1: Armaggeddon Crazy Chess at Norway 2019!

@ 05/06/2019 by Tanmay Srinath (en)
Norway Blitz: Hurricane MVL destroys the competition, moves to world no.1 with 2948 Elo!

@ 04/06/2019 by Tanmay Srinath (en)
Home Front - The Hidden Bane of Top Level Chess

@ 03/06/2019 by Tanmay Srinath (en)
Vishy Anand welcomes Nihal Sarin to the 2600 club!

@ 03/06/2019 by Sagar Shah (en)
नॉर्वे शतरंज 2019- क्या आनंद दोहराएंगे परिणाम ?

@ 01/06/2019 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Nihal Sarin crosses 2600 on the live rating list at Tepe Sigeman & Co.

@ 05/05/2019 by Sagar Shah (en)
The consistency of Nihal Sarin

@ 01/05/2019 by Sagar Shah (en)
14-year-old Nihal Sarin's blitzkrieg in Saint Petersburg!

@ 30/12/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)
World Rapid Championship: Anand closes in on the tournament leaders going into the final day

@ 28/12/2018 by Aditya Pai (en)