He looks like any other eighth grader at Ransom Everglades School, fitting right into the orchestra’s violin section, part of the big picture. It’s at the chess board where Nikhil Kumar stands out.
"I really wasn’t expecting that from myself, but like when I won it was a good feeling," said Nikhil.
What did he win? Nikhil took home first place in the World Chess Championship last week in the Republic of Georgia, beating kids from 36 nations to win his age group. He draped an American flag over his shoulders as he accepted the first place medal and trophy.
"I was proud of myself, and happy to be representing the country, like in such a good way," Nikhil said, saying he felt like an Olympic athlete winning a gold medal.
His classmates and teachers at the Coconut Grove school knew he was gone for a couple of weeks, but most didn’t know why.
"And he won, he brought home the gold," said Head of School Rachel Rodriguez. "And I’m sure he’s as humble about his winning as he is every day on our campus."
Taking chess to such a high level, Nikhil is an extreme example, but the game is great training for any student in any subject.
"Like, chess involves a lot of thinking and staying focused so whenever I’m taking a test or something like that, I stay focused,” Nikhil explained.
Speaking of being focused, the young man is eyeing his next challenge.
"Become the best in the world in any age, that’s my goal,” Nikhil said.
Once you get the gold, nothing else will do.