All of 12 years and eight months, Nihal Sarin shares an interesting parallel with reigning world chess champion Magnus Carlsen. The Kerala boy has turned an International Master (IM) at exactly the same age that the current world No. 1 did, becoming one of the world's youngest players to do. Sarin attained his third and final IM norm at the ongoing Aeroflot Open in Moscow.
Aged 10, fellow Indian R Praggnanandhaa became the world's youngest IM last year. For attaining the IM title, a player has to secure three norms and a FIDE rating of at least 2400.
Viswanathan Anand had turned IM at the age of 15 and Grandmaster (GM), a higher title which requires a rating of at least 2500, at the age of 18. Over the years, the average age of both IM and Grandmaster titles among players has progressively dropped.
In 2014, Nihal won the classical Under-10 world title apart from the Asian Under-10 rapid and blitz titles.
Known to be a bundle of restless energy who often paces around the playing hall during games, and with maturity that well belies his age, Nihal has been counted as a bright prospect right from his early years in the sport.
Senior national coach RB Ramesh while heaping praise on Nihal pointed out that the likes of him and Praggnandhaa have raised the bar with their early breakthroughs.
"Nihal is an extremely talented boy and we were certain that he would achieve this feat pretty soon," Ramesh said. "This is great news for Indian chess and there's nothing more heartening than to see the future of the sport in promising hands."