Quick Q/A with Nihal

We do receive a lot of ‘fan mail’ and whenever somebody wishes Nihal, we pass on the message to him. The bygone weekend, we received a particularly warm email wishing Nihal all the success in his journey. But this one had an additional question.

If you a chessplayer looking for ways to become stronger, it can be very frustrating when no progress seems to be happening despite all the hard work. What can you do to become a better player? It does not matter what level you are in if your foundation itself is shaky. In this article, Nihal answers the questions of one of his followers.

Anand Krishnan writes, “I love playing chess. I always watch your games online, especially blitz. Also an interesting thing—I always see you on my study table! I have the book “നിങ്ങൾകു൦ ആകാം ചെസ്സ് ചാമ്പ്യൻ ” by Anil Kumar Sir with your photo on the cover.”

Thank you so very much for the kind words, Anand! Back to the email: He continues, “I wish to learn from you…” and he asks a set of questions. Here are Nihal’s answers:

Who is your favorite chess player?

Originally, my favourite player was (and still is) Alexander Alekhine. His games are a great way to improve your feel for the attack, which is what we should learn first. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it is difficult to play in a similar manner anymore. Because opponents aren’t as cooperative.

Among the modern legends, I like Magnus Carlsen but of late I have also begun to develop a strong liking for Wesley So’s games—very concrete moves.

Magnus Carlsen vs. Wesley So (Photo: Shamkir Chess)

Which is your favorite chess book?

There are many useful books. When starting out, I loved Alexander Alekhine—Master of Attack. I do not dig deep into positions in the book(s). I just read text, positions, variations and enjoy the process.

A well-used copy of Alexander Alekhine—Master of Attack. Nihal loves the games so much that there used to be two copies in the house (one for the bedside, and the other for the living room).

Studying classics and old champions is important. It is like learning History in school.

The collection of books continues to grow steadily. There is no system as such. He picks up a book and reads it as per his mood.

Which is your favorite chess game ever played?

I enjoy every game I see. They usually have something valuable to learn from and I just enjoy them. No particular favourites.

Which one of your games do you consider the best so far?

Among my games, I don’t really think any are ‘best’.  I have a lot to learn before they are any good.

But if you asked me to show a game or two for fun, I would love to show the following games.

This one has a king walk across the board, reminiscent of the more famous Nigel Short-Jan Timman game:

This one has a nice tactic:
Your favourite chess piece?

They are all good to me. No particular favourites!


We hope you learned something useful to improve your chess. In fact, these methods can be applied in any field.

How Devamatha CMI Public School is helping Nihal grow

If India has any chances to reach the top in sporting competitions, it needs a revolution. A revolution in the way people think about sports, approach sports, and also what we do for our sportspersons. And this revolution has to start at the entry point itself. In India, more often than not, these entry points are India’s schools.

A school’s responsibility is not limited to teaching its students’ life skills and lessons, nor is it just about coaching the kids. Most schools do that, and that is all. But in reality, if a school really has to make a difference, it has to support the student’s sporting ambitions in every way possible—by making sure that the student is well-funded, by taking special care of the student’s educational needs,  and also maintaining the right social environment around the child. True education is holistic and the child should not miss out on a childhood just because it has to focus on being the best in some sporting or other activity.

Luckily, for Nihal, Devamatha CMI Public School in Thrissur does everything they possibly can, while taking care of his education, etc., to raise him like a proper student, who happens to be good at chess.

Nihal does not need to worry about missing out on classes, or exams. The school is always there to support him and make sure he up to date with the studies by taking special care of him.

After Nihal became in International Master, the school invited him and his parents for a heart-warming felicitation that was attended by the entire school.

Devamatha CMI Public School, Thrissur, where Nihal studies.
Nihal with his teacher and friends. Nihal was felicitated by the authorities in school assembly, cheered by all the students of the institution.
A shy Nihal watching…
Before he is inundated with requests for selfies!
Nihal with (left to right) Devamatha CMI School Principal Rev. Fr. Shaju Edamana, Co-curricular Activities coordinator Mr. O.D. Varkey, Dr. Sarin (Nihal’s father) and Dr. Shijin (Nihal’s mother).
Near the institution building, the school had put up billboards celebrating Nihal’s success!

It was truly a very special moment to be a part of such a warm reception, but more importantly, it is even more special to be a student in such a caring school.

This is how schools in India should be, and this is how India can rise to become a sporting superpower.

Devamatha School Website

School Press Release on Nihal

How Devamatha CMI Public School is helping Nihal grow

If India has any chances to reach the top in sporting competitions, it needs a revolution. A revolution in the way people think about sports, approach sports, and also what we do for our sportspersons. And this revolution has to start at the entry point itself. In India, more often than not, these entry points are India’s schools.

A school’s responsibility is not limited to teaching its students’ life skills and lessons, nor is it just about coaching the kids. Most schools do that, and that is all. But in reality, if a school really has to make a difference, it has to support the student’s sporting ambitions in every way possible—by making sure that the student is well-funded, by taking special care of the student’s educational needs,  and also maintaining the right social environment around the child. True education is holistic and the child should not miss out on a childhood just because it has to focus on being the best in some sporting or other activity.

Luckily, for Nihal, Devamatha CMI Public School in Thrissur does everything they possibly can, while taking care of his education, etc., to raise him like a proper student, who happens to be good at chess.

Nihal does not need to worry about missing out on classes, or exams. The school is always there to support him and make sure he up to date with the studies by taking special care of him.

After Nihal became in International Master, the school invited him and his parents for a heart-warming felicitation that was attended by the entire school.

Devamatha CMI Public School, Thrissur, where Nihal studies.
Nihal with his teacher and friends. Nihal was felicitated by the authorities in school assembly, cheered by all the students of the institution.
A shy Nihal watching…
Before he is inundated with requests for selfies!
Nihal with (left to right) Devamatha CMI School Principal Rev. Fr. Shaju Edamana, Co-curricular Activities coordinator Mr. O.D. Varkey, Dr. Sarin (Nihal’s father) and Dr. Shijin (Nihal’s mother).
Near the institution building, the school had put up billboards celebrating Nihal’s success!

It was truly a very special moment to be a part of such a warm reception, but more importantly, it is even more special to be a student in such a caring school.

This is how schools in India should be, and this is how India can rise to become a sporting superpower.

Devamatha School Website

School Press Release on Nihal