Her father, a chess lover, was a junior to world champion Viswananthan Anand at Loyola College, Chennai. Her brother, an U-12 champion. And she herself has been an U-10 champion for three consecutive years.
There are so many links between Nithyalakshmi and chess. Yet, the 10-year-old girl aspires to be a pilot. “Chess is just my hobby. I want to be a pilot and fly high. In the future I would like to teach the sport,” says an animated Nithyalakshmi.
The young chess champ is a Malaysian national, and her family has been living there since before she was born. A school topper, Nithyalakshmi took to chess at the age of 6, “I would watch my brother play, that’s how I developed a liking for the sport.”
Nithyalakshmi is in the capital along with her brother and mother to participate in the Parsvnath Commonwealth Chess Championship. The budding talent has been supported by Malaysia Airlines for the last two years, helping her participate in events around the region.
“We spotted her at the U-10 Malaysian championships in 2008, and have been with her since. The Commonwealth Age Group Championships in Singapore last year was our first event with her. Her performance was rather impressive,” says Lailawaty Mohd Yusoff, executive secretary of Malaysia Airlines (MH). Nithya was adjudged the ‘Best Girl’ in Singapore.
So will MH bring Nithyalakshmi to India for the Commonweatlth Games?
“You never know. It all depends on how she fares in this championship,” said Lailawaty.
Interestingly, Nithyalakshmi and her brother, Subramanian Sivanesan, are the brand ambassadors for a Malaysian Airlines project to help rural kids there take up chess. “It’s a wonderful experience. I get to play with and meet kids of my age,” she says.
But when asked whether she would like to fly with MH or be a chess player, the prompt reply is, “I would rather be a pilot.” Either way, nothing’s going to stop this young star from reaching for the skies.