David Howell

David Howell

Dec 3, 2010, 4:48 PM |

David Wei Liang Howell (born November 14, 1990) is an English chess player. He is the youngest grandmaster in the United Kingdom, a title he earned when he came second during the 35th Rilton Cup in Stockholm on 5 January 2007 when he was 16. The previous record holder, Luke McShane, was six months older when he became a grandmaster.

Howell was born in Eastbourne to Angeline (originally from Singapore) and Martin Howell. He has a younger sister, Julia, and lives with his family in Seaford, East Sussex. He has been playing chess since the age of five years and eight months, following his father's purchase of a second-hand chess set at a jumble sale.

Howell quickly learned to defeat his father and soon came to the attention of the Sussex Junior Chess Association, where he received tuition from a number of established county players. He progressed rapidly and became the British Under-8, Under-9 and Under-10 chess champion.

In August 1999, Howell became famous internationally when he broke the world record for the youngest player to have defeated a Grandmaster in an official game. He defeated GM John Nunn in a blitz game at the Mind Sports Olympiad. Howell still holds this record. He is also the youngest player in the world to have qualified to compete in a national chess championship, taking part in the British Chess Championship in August 2000. He came fourth in the Player of the Year ballot held by the British Chess Federation during 2000.

In 2001, Howell came joint first in the European Under-12 Chess Championship and joint second in the World Under-12 Championship. In the Hastings Challengers tournament in January 2001, Howell became the youngest ever British player to defeat a grandmaster at classical time controls when he beat GM Colin McNab.

In March 2002, Howell drew the last of four games with the Einstein Group World Champion, Vladimir Kramnik, becoming the youngest player in the world to score against a reigning world chess champion in an organised chess match. The resulting publicity led to articles in all the main British national newspapers. At a televised awards show for Britain's most talented youngsters, he was presented an award by Patrick Moore.

Progress was perhaps more measured during his early to mid teens, but Howell continued to meet all the milestone challenges, first gaining the International Master title, and culminating in becoming a grandmaster at the age of sixteen, the youngest ever in the UK. Along the way, he performed well at the Hastings knockout-style tournament (2004-5 edition), where he was eliminated at the quarter-final (round 5) stage by the strong Polish GM Bartosz Soćko.

His chess coaching with grandmaster Glenn Flear was sponsored by JEB (Hove) Ltd, the software developer responsible for the BITEM event management website. There were also training sessions with Nigel Short who has worked with other successful juniors such as Pentala Harikrishna, Sergey Karjakin and Parimarjan Negi.

He obtained the three necessary GM norms between 2004 and 2007. Since becoming a grandmaster in 2007, Howell has participated in a variety of competitions; he took a share of fourth place in the British Chess Championship that year and went on to scoop the English Chess Federation's Player of the Year Award.

A significant rise in his Elo rating followed his achievements of 2008. At the Dresden Olympiad of 2008, he joined the England team on board 3 and contributed 7½/11 for a tournament performance rating (TPR) of 2675. Howell was the British Rapidplay Chess Champion in 2008 with a score of 10/11 points, and in 2009 with 9/11. In 2009/10 he tied for in the Hastings International Chess Congress. He placed third in the London Chess Classic in December 2009. He won the British Rapidplay Chess Championship again in 2010 with a score of 10½/11.