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16-year-old Nihal Sarin Giving World Champion Magnus Carlsen a Run for his Money in Blitz Chess

File photo of Nihal Sarin (Photo Credit: @NihalSarin)

File photo of Nihal Sarin (Photo Credit: @NihalSarin)

Nihal Sarin is benefitting from the shift of chess to the online platform amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Online chess has been a rage in the past couple of months. Due to the coronavirus lockdown and the world of sports shut down, chess players all over the world have engaged in matches on online platforms that has brought not only new audience to the sport but also more experience for the young.

For 16-year-old Nihal Sarin, the online platform has meant he is able to directly challenge Norwegian four-time world champion Magnus Carlsen and even beat him in blitz games.

On Friday, Sarin played against Carlsen in a series of one-minute chess shootouts and at the end of these 'bullet games', Sarin had won 13 games to Carlsen's 19.

A week ago, Sarin had even defeated Carlsen in a blitz game, where players get only three minutes to work out their moves.

At the back of such heroics, Carlsen described Sarin as "one of the best blitz players around" while at highly-rated, Sarin is ranked No.3 in bullet chess after playing 15,431 games.

Sarin feels "it would be fun if online goes mainstream."

"I just saw him (Carlsen) online, so I sent a challenge," Sarin was quoted as saying by the Indian Express. Sarin estimated that over the years, he has played close to 200 bullet games against Carlsen and won a fourth of them.

Veteran Grandmaster Praveen Thipsay, who runs a chess school, told Indian Express that youngsters have sharp reflexes when it comes to moving the mouse as they are very much adept with online chess. That becomes an advantage for them.

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Some tournaments have three-minute games, some one minute, so a fraction of a second makes a lot of difference. I take one second to make the move so generally I don't have any leftover time. Players like Sarin, after 10 moves, have accumulated five seconds. This means they are making a move in half a second," Thipsay said.

Sarin has a very different method of chess training. He just goes online and plays against a variety of players to "learn the concepts first-hand."

"When you are about to make a move in a real game, you see things in those moments that will never occur to you while you are thinking or training for hours… I just love doing it this way."

Sarin and 18-year-old Alireza Firouzja from Iran are the flagbearers of this generation due to their extensive online experience.

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first published:June 09, 2020, 17:44 IST