Nihal Sarin up against Vassily Ivanchuk at the Leon Masters 2019

Fourteen-year-old Grandmaster Nihal Sarin will take on the former World No. 2 Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine in a battle of generations in the first semi-final of the Leon Masters 2019 tournament, beginning on Friday.

The match will be four rapid games with Nihal starting the first game with black pieces.

Nihal goes into the tournament as currently the world’s youngest player rated above 2600.

The handshake

Speaking about his expectations, Nihal said, “Ivanchuk is a great player, but I will try and play at my best and win the match. ”

When asked about his match strategy, Nihal said that since Ivanchuk starts the match with the white pieces, he will have to wait and see what the latter does.

“The first game will be the key. If I manage to play well, I have two whites in the last three games in a pressure situation,” he commented.

Nihal goes into the tournament on the back of good form in the last few months which saw him break the 2600 barrier, the third youngest in history to do so, and also become the Asian Blitz Chess Champion in June, the youngest in history.

A painting commemorating Nihal’s debut at the prestigious tournament.

Vassily Ivanchuk comes to the tournament after winning the strong Capablanca Memorial tournament in early May.

Leon Masters is a 4-player knockout tournament. It takes place from 5-7 July 2019 in Leon, Spain. Players will play 4 rapid games in the match with 20 minutes for the entire game, plus a 10-second increment starting from move one. In case of a tie two blitz games (5+3) will be played, and if still tied an Armageddon game.

Other players include GM Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran and local star GM Jaime Santos Latasa of Spain who will be playing their match on 6thJuly. The winner of this match will reach the finals and play the winner of the first match between Nihal and Ivanchuk. The finals will be held on 7th July.

The match will start at 8 pm IST at the Auditorio De La Ciudad De León.