The 21-year-old chess phenomenon

The 21-year-old chess phenomenon

Nikolas Theodorou belongs to Generation Z, the generation born near the millennium, for many the children of technology and mobile phones. Nicholas, however, followed a sport that you need, it is deep thought and study for your next move.

He was born in September 2000 in Athens and in 2006 his family moved to Atsipopoulo, Rethymno, where he finished elementary school. When he was 7 years old (in 2007) his parents thought that in addition to the classic board games such as the snake and the grumpy, he could also try his hand at chess. From the first games, Nikolas made the difference and his father and university professor Panos Theodorou decided to enroll him immediately in the chess club of Rethymno (SKOR).

“In 2007 in Rethymno, two years after we moved there from Athens, I started at the Rethymno Chess Club. It was very lucky that the teacher there, as well as at the Chess Academy of Chania, was Costas Tsarouchas. Thus began my adventure in his wonderful world. Local games, Pan-Cretans, Pan-Hellenic student championships, Pan-European, world, many victories and firsts, cups, medals, some bitter moments, and many questions about my future relationship with the sport. “Especially if you add a lot of tournaments every year. The specialized coaching is also extremely costly, after, for example, the 2,200 to 2,300 ELO” he has stated in an interview.

But chess was more than a game for the gifted Nikola Theodorou and this proved to be a peritrans since at the age of 21 he won the lifetime title of Grand Metr in world chess. Only 11 Greeks have achieved this, among them Andreas Keliris, Stelios Chalkias, Stratis Grivas, Vassilis Kotronias, Georgios Makropoulos.

In 2018 he graduated from the Experimental High School of Rethymnon while in July 2016 he had received the title of International Master (IM).




When Theodorou started in the field of chess, he immediately stood out for his disciplined thinking, for his strategy but also for his comfort to handle high level mathematics and logarithms and to analyze in depth the game of his opponents. Having the good fortune to be close to experienced and good coaches he made leaps and bounds.

In September 2021 he achieved three norms and with his ELO (individual score of each athlete who comes out through the mathematical formula of 9 top games) having reached the impressive 2,576 points, the 21-year-old is considered a chess genius. In fact, if one considers that the Norwegian world champion with 2,850 ELO points is at the top, one realizes that Nicholas is a breath away from him.



The Grand Metr title is a lifelong dream for the 600 million chess players in the world, who are estimated to be actively involved in the sport, but only 1,600 worldwide have achieved it.

However, Nicholas’s course did not go unnoticed by the University of St. Louis in the USA, which is considered the Mecca of chess players. He was offered a scholarship and although in the Panhellenic exams he collected 18,835 entering a very good series of Electrical Engineers at NTUA, he finally chose to accept the offer of St. Louis where in parallel with his studies as Mathematician and Physicist he has devoted himself to professional chess. points and titles.




A few months ago, with the University of St. Louis, he won 1st place in the International Rapid Chess Championship (FIDE) World Championship and 2nd place in the FIDE World Rapid Chess Championship (Blitz). At another time when he was demonstrating his chess skills, a match was organized in the old port of Chania where he faced at the same time 35 strong players whom he of course defeated.




Nicholas arrived in America through the education he has received from his family and their significant support.

“My family did everything they could until I found myself a fellow student in the US, choosing the offer of St. Louis University in Missouri, in a city that is considered something like the Mecca of chess. Unfortunately, in Greece and probably not only in chess, there is no corresponding culture and care. It is also extremely difficult to find sponsors. The clubs do what they can, the Hellenic Chess Federation tries with very little money.I insist on specialized coaching and indoor tournaments, which are extremely rare in Greece,” he said in a recent interview.

ΝωKostas Tsarouchas, where he coaches the chess club of Chania, one of the largest academies in Greece. “Nikolas stood out from a young age. In fact, he could have won the Grand Metr title at a younger age. He has the whole future ahead of him and he will give us great emotions. We are proud of his course “, said Costas Tsarouchas characteristically full of pride, adding:” In general, Crete has a long tradition in chess. Do not forget that every year we make the biggest tournament in Greece in Paleochora with the participation of 300 athletes from all over the world. In this way, we strengthen sports tourism and highlight new talents. “Unfortunately, the costs are high and we need help to highlight this wonderful sport that has 3,000 years of roots and fits in with the culture and philosophy of the Greeks.”


For many, chess is a process that takes a long time, but Nicholas says the following : “The time I spend on chess was progressively increasing, as, going up to ELO, I understood the growing demands of the sport. People thought I was spending day and night studying the various parts of the game and each of the aspects of how to play. The truth is that as a child I did not devote remarkably many hours of study to chess. Yes, my parents encouraged me to go ahead and have big ambitions, but they were reluctant to let me, let alone direct myself, to the full orientation towards a possible chess player career. I was always told that I had to study for my studies if I wanted to achieve high performance and distinctions, but I was constantly encouraged to enjoy the simple joys of childhood. Certainly this does not correspond to the logic of the intensive study we know or assume is behind the top chess players in the world today. My parents’ logic was that I should not put all the eggs in a basket from the beginning and give them all there. “I grew up in a context where there was a relative bonus in the perspective of the highest possible studies with a constant effort in chess,” said the young chess player in an interview.



For Nikolas Theodorou, chess is much more than a simple game, in the course of his life he discovered that through it he could be helped in other areas as well. So, although I scored 18,835 points in the Panhellenic exams and passed in a very good series at the Electrical Engineers at NTUA, we decided as a family to accept the chess scholarship of St. Louis University, since there they would provide me, and indeed it happened, excellent student and financial conditions, such that helped me progress a lot in chess and reach the GM norm. Unfortunately, the Greek Universities do not provide special care, financial support, suitable training conditions, etc., for students who combine championships in a sport. “I wish things were different and I wish they would be like that someday,” said Nicholas


. his place in the world rankings but for Theodorou the development and the conquest of other titles is one way. “The fact that I won the really enviable and relatively rare GM title makes me very happy, since it was my first very big goal in chess. So this is not something that is already behind me and I forget about something new. It is a title that will accompany me for as long as I live. Of course, I do not intend to be content with that. The next logical goal is to rise in the ELO rankings and in the world ranking. I will try to play in as strong an international tournament as possible and I will try to have the opportunity to play with all the extremely strong players on the international chess scene. I hope I still have enough chess to go in front of me “.



In 2021 Nicholas together with the team of the University of St. Louis won 1st place in this year ‘s World Rapid Chess Championship (rapid) of the also International Chess Federation FIDE. They also won 2nd place at this year’s FIDE Blitz World Championship.


“It is true that I really like both rapid (rapid) and very fast (blitz) chess. On the big chess platforms, where this kind of game is much more offered, I do not miss the opportunity to challenge the very big chess players to this kind of chess. There are various jokes and various plates, especially from my fast chess duels with the famous Hikaru Nakamura. In fact, he commented on his channel on my game with Levy Rozman (also known from his internet channel as Gotham Chess), with which I actually got my third norm and the GM title, “said Theodorou.



. It is not independent of the mathematical way of thinking of a gifted mind like that of 21-year-old Nicholas. finding the best solution, combinatorial thinking, concentration, etc. “Another very strong lesson that chess gives you very quickly in life is that victory is sweet and defeat is painful. However, this does not make you either carefree or scared. “says Nikolas Theodorou.


A key feature of the sport is that whatever you do in the end you will get what you deserve. Chess is fair and rewards you with joy depending on the move you make. His defeats again are quite painful if you find yourself in a hard rouge. But you learn from everything and evolve so that in the next round you get the rematch with the right moves. “A defeat in chess may be more painful than in other games, as it can come after an exhausting match of 5 or even six hours. And you are there alone to manage it. You learn a lot from these defeats “said the 21-year-old.



The life of Nikolas Theodoros in America has a lot of chess but also reading. In his second year he turned to physics and mathematics even though he had started physics for engineers. the possibility of changing your direction within the first 2 years of your studies.The University has already made him an offer for a master




‘s degree.The advice he gives to young children who want to play chess and anything else they love is to cultivate Chess is a beautiful spiritual sport that offers great emotions, both positive and negative (we are talking about a lot of adrenaline!). It is very strange how a seemingly so quiet — almost inactive outside — sport can I would say that it requires even good physical condition to endure long hours of hard work. to offer, therefore, in matters of education in the organization of thought, in concentration, in the development of imagination, etc., chess is an inexhaustible field of experiences and self-discovery, ”said Nicholas.



Finally, the promising Greek chess player dedicated the GM title to his teachers: “I dedicate my success in winning the GM title to my chess teachers, who at various times and for longer or shorter periods helped me to raise the My level: Costas Tsarouchas, Christos Banikas, Vassilis Kotronias, Antonis Vragoteris, Giannis Papaioannou, and, in recent years in St. Louis, Alejandro Ramirez. I achieve important things in chess and in my parents who have always supported me calmly and continue to support me and inspire me to continue “.

Nikolas Theodorou with his bright mind and insightful mind has opened a long way in front of him that seems to have successes and many streams of mat.