Nimkar takes the crown

Senior chess player takes first at state competition, headed to nationals

Cortlynn Stark


Joseph Anderson

Holding his opponent’s pawn in one hand, senior Kaustubh Nimkar contemplates his next move during a fall chess club meeting in sponsor Andrew Bricker’s classroom.

By Cortlynn Stark

While the basketball team prepared for its state championship game against Wichita East, a different state championship contender was also gearing up for a tough competition.

Senior Kaustubh Nimkar took first place at the state chess tournament at Wichita North High School on March 14.

“The first couple rounds were pretty easy,” Nimkar said. “My third round was especially hard, because I kind of made a few mistakes in the opening, but in all of my games I managed to get the win.”

Nimkar won all six of his rounds to take the championship despite facing the state winners from the past two years.

He will advance to the national tournament Aug. 1 in Arizona.

Chess has played a big role in Nimkar’s life since elementary school, he said.

“I think after the third grade I became more serious,” Nimkar said. “It’s not just that I started enjoying it more, it was kind of like basketball to me. I just loved the competition.”

In seventh and eighth grades he won the state championship at his level. His freshmen year, he won first place in his division of the U.S. Chess Federation’s National High School Chess Championships and went on to take third place at the state competition the same year.

As the years have passed, he’s become more involved in the chess-playing community, practicing at different chess clubs like the Lawrence Chess Club and LHS’s own club, where he occasionally plays against sponsor and science teacher Andrew Bricker.

“Usually he checkmates me pretty quickly,” Bricker said. “But sometimes he lets me hang around for a while.”

Nimkar has won chess games in as little as four moves.

He also plays against sophomore Apramay Mishra at chess club.

“Every game we just help each other get better,” Mishra said. “It’s fun because we’ve been playing against each other for a while. We’re pretty evenly matched.”

Nimkar knows the game exceptionally well. Bricker acknowledged that there is nothing new he taught Nimkar about chess, and applauds Nimkar’s drive to succeed.

“Kaustubh is not afraid of defeat. That’s part of what makes him so tough to beat,” Bricker said. “It’s something I’ve learned from his demeanor before, during and after tournaments.”