Nihal Sarin delivered his career best performance to win Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Rapid with a round to spare. Until the final round, he was the only player who remained unscathed. It was fitting that his best friend and the defending champion, Arjun Erigaisi became the sole person to win against the champion. The 18-year-old delivered his career best performance to win the strongest tournament he has ever participated so far. Arjun Erigaisi finished a half point behind Nihal at 6/9, five players finished at 4.5/9. They are - Vidit Gujrathi, Hikaru Nakamura, D Gukesh, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Nodirbek Abdusattorov. Vidit was adjudged third according to tie-breaks. Tomorrow 2nd December is a rest day. The Blitz tournament starts on Saturday 3rd December from 4 p.m. IST. Photo: Lennart Ootes
Nihal Sarin delivers his career best, India claims the podium
It has been 16 months since Nihal Sarin won his last event at Biel GMT Blitz 2021. It was part of the Grandmaster Triathlon (GMT). A complete tournament triumph was in July at Serbia Masters 2021. One must not forget Nihal's stellar unbeaten 7.5/10 performance at the 44th Chess Olympiad. However, winning a super tournament as his first triumph in a long time, is undoubtedly special. If Gukesh, Arjun Erigaisi and Praggnanandhaa have announced their arrival at the big stage then Nihal cements the position of the Indian teenagers. Speaking of big stage, Tata Steel Challengers 2023 has announced three out of 14 names so far - GM Abhimanyu Mishra (USA), GM M Amin Tabatabaei (IRI) and GM Luis Paulo Supi (BRA). Out of the remaining 11, one of them has to be the local favorite and prodigy, 16-year-old, IM Eline Roebers (NED). She won the individual Silver on Board no.1 at the 44th Chess Olympiad and recently became IM directly without having any previous titles. Thus, it leaves 10 places, one of them certainly should go towards Nihal. He has earned it.
Nihal Sarin wins his first super tournament with a career best performance | Photo: Lennart Ootes
Top 3 (L to R) in Rapid - 2nd GM Arjun Erigaisi, 1st GM Nihal Sarin and 3rd GM Vidit Gujrathi | Photo: ChessBase India
Round 7: Nihal shocks Shakh
Nihal Sarin (2616) started the day with a very nice victory over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE, 2747).
Mamedyarov - Nihal
Position after 24.Rc2
24.Rc2 exposed White's backrank weakness. Nihal is tactically alert. He found a very nice backward move 24...Ne7 25.a3 Bxa3 26.Rd2 Bb4 27.Rd3 Nf5 28.Bb2 Rxd3 29.Bxd3 Qd5 and things finished in a hurry due to the weakness on the long diagonal caused by the queen and bishop battery.