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P Shyam Nikhil becomes the 85th Grandmaster of India

by Shahid Ahmed - 13/05/2024

IM P Shyam Nikhil became the 85th Indian to achieve the Grandmaster title on Sunday 12th May 2024 at Dubai Police Masters 2024. He drew with GM Jinshi Bai (CHN) in the final round to secure his final GM-norm. Shyam earned his first GM-norm way back in September 2011 at 4th Mumbai Mayor's Cup. In the following month, he scored his second GM-norm at 46th National Premier 2011. Five months later in May 2012 he got a published rating 2502. A few of his norms were missed and got cancelled due to technicality. He had to score his final GM-norm outside of India. 12 years later in Dubai, the same place where he crossed 2500 in 2012, is where he became a Grandmaster. Shyam's journey is undoubtedly inspirational, a concoction of grit, passion and perseverance. Photo: Aditya Sur Roy

12-year-long wait is finally over

P Shyam Nikhil started learning chess at the age of eight years. He had a chess board at home. His parents taught him a bit about chess. He started playing chess tournaments at the age of eleven as there were not a lot of opportunities or tournaments in his hometown. After Under-11 only, he started playing outside of his hometown. He won his first State Championship in Under-13 category, qualified to the Nationals where he finished second. That State title is a memorable one for Shyam. In 2017, Shyam joined Integral Coach Factory of Indian Railways. They are very supportive of him in his chess career with leaves and everything.

P Shyam Nikhil becomes the 85th Grandmaster of India | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy
P Shyam Nikhil becomes the 85th GM of India, ending his 12-year-long wait | Video: ChessBase India

"I am really happy for this title because my parents were expecting it for a long long time. So for them I really feel, very very happy and it's successfully done. For me, I wanted to play good games, like Mikhail Tal, Garry Kasparov's games. I wanted to play just in a way to have that enjoyment in the game. That is my main motive. Now that the title is done, I can play more freely." - India's latest GM P Shyam Nikhil on what the Grandmaster title means to him. "Still a long way to go. I will keep improving and I'll play more good games in the future. Thank you so much." - Shyam's parting words.

First GM-norm: 4th Mumbai Mayor's Cup Open 2011

Shyam earned his first GM-norm at 4th Mumbai Mayor's Cup Open in September 2011 in Mumbai. He made a blazing start scoring 5/5 including wins over GM Sethuraman S P and then IM Priyadharshan K. In the ninth round he scored a must-win game against GM Bartolomiej Heberla (POL). He also drew with GM Niaz Murshed (BAN), GM Deviatkin Andrei (RUS) and GM Abhijit Kunte.

Heberla - Shyam, Round 9

Position after 21.Qc5?

21.Qc5? allowed Black to gain the upperhand Qe6 22.Rb3 Rad8 23.Qc7 Rxd4 24.Nb1 Bg4 25.f3 Rd7 26.Qc2 exf3 things fell apart in a hurry for White and Black won the game in another ten moves.

IM P Shyam Nikhil en route his win over GM Bartlomiej Heberla (POL) and his maiden GM-norm | Photo: Kadmoorthy

Shyam scored 7.5/11 and increased his Elo rating points by 17.1 points

Second GM-norm: 46th National Premier 2011

Shyam scored his second GM-norm in the following month at 46th National Premier in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. He did not have the best start as he scored only 1.5/3. Shyam won against GM Deep Sengupta and GM Neelotpal Das, drew with then IM Vidit Gujrathi, GM Parimarjan Negi and GM Sethuraman S P.

Shyam - Deep, Round 9

Position after 37...Rh1+

37...Rh1+? 38.Ke2 Ra1 39.Rc4 now both black rooks are disconnected. The b8-knight is not doing much either. 39...Re7 40.Nd4 Ra3 41.Rd8 and it's over.

P Shyam Nikhil defeated GM Deep Sengupta in a must-win ninth round game to earn his second GM-norm | Photo: Sergio/Chessdom

Shyam scored 8/13 and gained 26.4 Elo rating points en route his second GM-norm

Third GM-norm: Dubai Police Masters 2024

Six months later, he crossed 2500. He got a published rating of 2502 in May 2012 FIDE Rating list. Shyam earned his final GM-norm at Dubai Police Masters 2024. He scored an unbeaten 5/9 to secure his norm. His sole victory of the event was against GM Mustafa Yilmaz (TUR). He drew with GM Haik Martirosyan (ARM), GM Vahap Sanal (TUR), GM Emre Can (TUR), GM Iniyan Pa, GM Pranav Anand and GM Jinshi Bai (CHN).

Mustafa - Shyam, Round 2

Position after 38.c5?

Shyam persevered a tough position. When the opportunity arose, he generated counterplay 34...f5. After a few moves, White faltered 38.c5? Qxc5-+ 39.Qxc5 bxc5 and Black got a decisive advantage. He had no trouble converting it into a win.

P Shyam Nikhil in action at Dubai Police Masters 2024 | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy

P Shyam Nikhil scored an unbeaten 5/9, gained 21.5 Elo rating points to secure his final GM-norm and become India's 85th Grandmaster

FM FT K Visweswaran

IA R Anantharam helped Shyam a lot in his initial stages

Replay Shyam's games

P Shyam Nikhil won Gold at Commonwealth Championship 2022 in Sri Lanka | Photo: IA Asit Baran Choudhury

P Shyam Nikhil won 7th Noisiel Open 2022 | Photo: IO FI Narayanin Oupindrin

P Shyam Nikhil clinched a Blitz Rating Open 2022

Winner of 5th SCS Rating Open 2019 - P Shyam Nikhil | Photo: IA R Anantharam

P Shyam Nikhil won 5th Keshabananda Das Memorial Rating Open 2016

P Shyam Nikhil receiving his champion's trophy in a rating tournament in 2016

P Shyam Nikhil became champion at 18th Tamil Nadu IM-norm Round Robin 2024 | Photo: IA R Srivatsan

P Shyam Nikhil finished third at 38th ChessOrg Festival Bad Woerishofen 2023 | Photo: IO IA Gerhard Bertagnolli

P Shyam Nikhil also won a unique chess tournament - Basque chess in 2015

Shyam's Best Achievements

P Shyam Nikhil has a lot of achievements in his career. Here are some of his best ones:

• Gold - Commonwealth Chess Championship 2022

• Gold - World Youth Under-16 Olympiad 2007

• Silver - Asian Youth Under-18 Open 2009

• Champion - 18th Tamil Nadu IM-norm Closed Round Robin 2024

• Champion - 7th Noisiel Open 2022

• Champion - 2nd VS Chess Academy Rapid Rating Open 2022

• Champion - Pandit Shiv Kumar Khamparia Memorial Blitz Rating Open 2022

• Champion - 5th SCS Rating Open 2019

• Champion - 2nd Rail Wheel Factory Rating Open 2016

• Champion - Shri Maheshwaranand Saraswati Memorial Rating Open 2016

• Champion - 5th Keshabananda Memorial Rating Open 2016

• Champion - Sivakasi Sivam Hospital Rapid Rating Open 2016

• Champion - 3rd Teekay Rating Open 2016

• Champion - 9th KCA Rating Open 2015

• Champion - 2nd ACCF Rating Open 2015

• Champion - Modern Senior Secondary School Rating Open 2008

• Champion for ICF - All India Inter Railway Team 2023

• Champion for ICF - 30th and 31st All India Inter Railway Team 2017 and 2018

• Champion - 26th National Youth Under-25 2017

• Champion - 19th National Under-17 Boys 2008

• Runner-up - 49th National Challengers 2011

• Runner-up for RSPB B - 43rd National Team Open 2024

• Runner-up for RSPB A - 41st National Team Open 2022

• Second Runner-up - 38th ChessOrg Festival Bad Woerishofen 2023

• Second Runner-up for RSPB B - 38th and 39th National Team Open 2018 and 2019

• Second Runner-up - 52nd National Challengers 2014

• Second Runner-up - 23rd National Youth Under-25 2014

• Second Runner-up - 40th and 41st National Junior Under-19 2010 and 2011

• Champion - 57th Tamil Nadu State Rating 2009

• Runner-up - 37th Tamil Nadu State Under-19 Open 2008

• Second Runner-up - 61st Tamil Nadu State Senior 2013


The power of passed pawns - IM Shyam Nikhil vs IM Nisha Mohota | Video: ChessBase India
Railways buddy IM Shyam Nikhil derails GM Deepan in Pirc | Video: ChessBase India
Defender must defend correctly even in a drawn Rook & Pawn endgame | Nithin vs IM P Shyam Nikhil | Video: ChessBase India
"Yes, I had crossed 2500 and have two GM norms. Do you have a doubt?!" | Video: ChessBase India


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