Sarin Beats Sadhwani, Retains Junior Speed Chess Championship Title


GM Nihal Sarin defeated fellow-Indian GM Raunak Sadhwani 16.5-10.5 to retain his title at the Junior Speed Chess Championship presented by ChessKid. Sarin gained an entry into the 2021 Speed Chess Championship Main Event beginning in November.

Though the final margin of victory looks sizable, Sadhwani fought well throughout the 5|1 and 3|1 segments and even had the scores tied at 9-9 after a win in the first game of the 1|1 segment. But, Sarin stepped up his game in the final stretch, scoring an impressive seven wins in the final 10 games to clinch the segment (with a score of 7.5-2.5) and the match convincingly.

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Speaking to the commentators afterward, Sarin admitted that it had been difficult: “It was a very tough match. Raunak played extremely well.” Sadhwani confessed: “Overall I am happy with the way I played blitz in this tournament.” Both these statements can be understood perfectly if one looks at the course of the first two segments of the match.

Blitz 5|1: Sarin – Sadhwani 4.5-3.5

Though Sadhwani took an early lead at 1.5-0.5 with a long grind in the second game, Nihal fought back into the match with wins in the fourth and fifth games. If there is a common thread to Nihal’s wins, it could be attributed to occasional slip-ups in Sadhwani’s handling of tactical positions:

In the next game too, Sadhwani made an error in calculation, even though the position was devoid of any tactics:

Just when commentators at live stream GM Jon Ludvig Hammer and GM Robert Hess started to wonder if Sarin was taking over the match slowly due to his superior handling of tactics over the board, Sadhwani built up what looked like an admirable thrust on the kingside in the very next game. But things soon got messed up when he mishandled the attack:

The best game of the segment came at the final eighth game when Sarin conducted a nice exhibition of color complexes after sacrificing a pawn for long-term compensation:

The beautiful finish to the eighth game of the 5|1 segment

Thus, when the segment ended, it was justifiable to feel that though both the players were fighting hard on almost equal terms, Sadhwani was occasionally missing a few tactical details compared to Sarin.

Blitz 3|1: Sarin – Sadhwani 4.5-4.5

The segment started with three almost uneventful draws, and the fourth game brought in the much-expected twists and turns:

In the next game, Sarin won with an even simpler tactic:

After this ‘double-strike’ in the fourth and fifth games, Sarin seemed to be in the driver’s seat with a 3.5-1.5 lead in the segment, but the match wasn’t over yet:

So, with this turnaround, Sadhwani confidently won the eighth game as well to tie the scores at the end of the segment. By then he was trailing by a score of 8-9 overall.

Raunak Sadhwani – admirable fightback in the blitz sections.

Bullet 1|1: Sarin – Sadhwani 7.5-2.5:

Sadhwani began the segment briskly winning the first bullet game to tie the score at 9-9, but lost steam subsequently, as the games seemed to be getting decided in simple tactical operations:

The dramatic turnaround in the eighth game of the bullet segment.

Hence, it was the final bullet segment that gave Nihal overall superiority in the match, as he said after the match: “After I got a win [in the bullet segment], I started to relax a bit and fortunately things started to move my way.” Sadhwani was graceful in defeat, admitting: “Bullet has been my weakness in this whole tournament.”

Sadhwani earned $972 on win percentage. Sarin won $2,500 plus $1,528 on win percentage, totalling $4,028. Like last year, he qualified for the Speed Chess Championship Main Event.

All games

2021 Junior Speed Chess Championship results

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