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.