Coach Of The Month: WGM Adriana Nikolova

Coach Of The Month: WGM Adriana Nikolova

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WGM Adriana Nikolova became a WFM in 2007, WIM in 2008, and WGM in 2011. That same year, she became the women's champion of Bulgaria in standard, rapid, and blitz time controls. She is also a chess streamer.

In addition to her accolades as an adult player, she spent many years during her youth championing her age group in the country and has played for the Bulgarian national team on multiple occasions.

All of this to say: It's hard to find a more qualified chess coach to take your game to the next level!

Readers seeking private instruction can contact Adriana via her profile and can find other skilled coaches at

At what age were you introduced to chess, and who introduced you?

I started playing chess when I was four years old. The whole process started around a coaching session between my father and my brother, who is eight years older than I am. I was so curious to understand what exactly they were doing and I was following them all the time. One day, I accidentally decided to destroy the pieces in front of them and ask them to pay attention to me because I wanted to participate in this game too.

An image of WGM Adriana Nikolova at the chessboard.
Photo courtesy of WGM Nikolova.

What is your first vivid memory from chess?

I remember very well how I was fighting and winning my first bronze medal in my first official tournament when I was six years old.

Which coaches were helpful to you in your chess career, and what was the most useful knowledge they imparted to you?

Through the years I tested many GMs, but I could say that the most memorable and useful for me was GM Vladimir Dimitrov. How he contributed to my success is the key moment in my chess career.

During this part of my life, I can confirm that one of my biggest weaknesses was the opening. I was well-prepared for endgames because this is what my father had coached me on in the past. At the same time, I was working so hard on my middlegame skills, but I was confused about so many opening questions.

GM Dimitrov is a coach who is completely dedicated to you and does individual work with you; he is there to really help you and answer all your questions. That's why today I am trying to give extra time to most of my students whenever I can. One hour per week is definitely not enough to study chess, even as a hobby.

An image of WGM Adriana Nikolova at the chessboard.
Photo courtesy of WGM Nikolova.

How would you describe your approach to chess coaching?

I began working as a chess coach at the Dubai Chess & Culture Club in 2017. Eight years of professional chess coaching already!

In the first place, I think over all these years of playing I have enough experience to give real-life examples to my students. Secondly, when I am starting the coaching process, I always respect the opinions and thoughts of a student, like what he/she needs exactly to improve in his/her game.

Thirdly, I am helping all kinds of different ages and rating levels; this includes players between 0-2400 Elo. I am trying to improve their overall chess skills by working on openings, middlegames, and endgames, and giving additional homework too.

Once players become competitive, of course, I am glad to follow and support them in different events and analyze their mistakes together.

I also point out during the process that chess is more or less an individual sport and indeed involves individual work, so studying the system and the books that I am recommending during a lesson are also very important.

An image of WGM Adriana Nikolova at the chessboard.
Photo courtesy of WGM Nikolova.

What do you consider your responsibility as a coach, and which responsibilities fall on a student?

Probably my responsibility is to take care and follow the level of my students. I am also keeping in touch with my students after lessons for additional questions, recommendations, urgent support, hints, opinions, and homework.

Their job is following my recommendations, raising their rapid/blitz rating, solving puzzles, and doing their homework. They should play regular rapid games to have enough material to analyze, and study opening questions and read books in their free time.

What is a piece of advice that you give your students that more chess players could benefit from?

Well, this could definitely be regularly practicing chess games and puzzles. Also, there is nothing to lose from playing against higher-rated players! We can study the mistakes that were made, and these can be useful training sessions.

Join your favorite social chess community and never forget about finding your own approach to how to enjoy the game.

What is your favorite teaching game that users might not have seen?

What puzzle that you give students tells you the most about how they think?

This Sterner-Boleslawski puzzle. Evaluating the position correctly is sometimes the most important aspect of the middlegame. It is Black to move:

Do you prefer to teach online or offline? 

I prefer online coaching and the flexibility that comes with it. The difference is the freedom that you have. Let me give you an example: if I have to have a lesson in school starting at 6 a.m., what time should I get up? And if it's only for one hour, does it make sense? How many schools should I travel to instead of emailing my students in an easy way?

Another benefit is the one-on-one work. I am a huge fan of it because I am paying attention personally to the student and their personal weaknesses and not talking generally.

What do you consider the most valuable training tool that the internet provides?

I would highly recommend a top website that would definitely help your chess development, like, especially if you use the full benefits of a diamond membership. This gives you access to an ocean of materials, games, opponents, and tournaments to study, and it's more than enough for amateurs and beginners as well as professional chess players.

Are you a chess coach who is looking to find new students, build your brand, and be paid more for the work that you're already doing? Check out's Coach Affiliate Program.

Previous Coaches of the Month:

Mick Murray

Mick is a writer and editor for and ChessKid. He enjoys playing the Caro-Kann and Italian Game to varying degrees of success. Before joining, Mick worked as a writer, editor, and content manager in Japan, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.

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