India’s Sarin wins Serbia Open chess, enters top 100

Young Indian chess sensation Nihal Sarin won the Masters’ section of the Serbia Open Chess Championship, his second consecutive tournament victory, after claiming the title in Silver Lake Open, which has propelled him into the top 100 in live chess ratings.

The 16-year-old from Thrissur, Kerala, on Thursday, played out a draw with GM Vladimir Fedoseev of Russia to finish with 7.5 points out a possible nine to finish clear first in the 280-player field in the nine-round Serbia Ope.

It was an incredible display of chess prowess by Sarin, with a rating of 2620, as he was only the eighth-seeded player in this tournament but finished with a performance worthy of a player with a rating of over 2800.

Sarin, who became a Grandmaster in 2018 at the age of 14, won six games and drew three, thus remaining unbeaten. Sarin, who started the Serbia Open with wins in the first two rounds, ended the event with three successive wins and a draw in the final round, finishing a clear half point ahead of the field.

This was Sarin’s second consecutive tournament triumph in Serbia, having won the Silver Lake championships last week with a similarly dominant performance and finishing with eight points from nine rounds. Silver Lake Open was his first over-the-board event after the COVID-19 pandemic break.

The two victories pushed his live ratings to 2655, an incredible gain of 35 points in a couple of weeks. Though the live ratings are unofficial as FIDE updates its ratings and rankings at the end of every month, Sarin, on the basis of his brilliant performance in the Serbia Open, has moved into the top 100 in the world — one of the youngest to do so. The live rating will also put him at 88 in the rankings list.

Sarin was ranked 2620 in the ratings issued on July 1 and was the 10th ranked player in India. Having gained 35 points, he is likely to move up to around No. 5.

After his exploits in Serbia, Sarin will move to Sochi in Russia to compete in the FIDE World Cup.

Sarin, who was introduced to chess at the age of six by his father as he wanted to keep him busy during school vacation, is the youngest Indian to play in the World Cup, at the age of 15 in 2019 when he reached the second round.

A world champion in the under-10 section and also in under-18, Sarin had helped India win the Online Chess Olympiad last year.