The Curious Case of David Howell
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The Curious Case of David Howell

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On August 30, 1999, world-renowned newspaper The Guardian published a piece of article on a boy; the title was “Chess star is born, aged 8”

The author was English Chess master Leonard Barden, who is 92 years old now. Leonard wrote:

“Even in a game known for its prodigies, it was a momentous achievement. British chess was hailing a new child star yesterday after a boy aged eight took on England's number five grandmaster and won.

In the most sensational result of the Mind Sports Olympiad in London, David Howell, British under-10 champion of Seaford, Sussex, defeated John Nunn, 44, player, and author of world renown.

The victory will convince the 150 nations of the world chess body Fide that Britain has a new star. Although it was only five-minute blitz chess, a race of moves against the clock, experts take this form of the game extremely seriously. All the Olympiad blitz events have been won by grandmasters, and each offers £500 prize money.

The audience of experts yesterday was too stunned to applaud when Nunn resigned. But David, who learned the game at five, had already shown the promise of a Nigel Short. In a side event at the British Championships in Scarborough this month he defeated the top woman, Harriet Hunt, in a game that broke an age performance record that had stood since 1920.”

Leonard Barden had to write a piece of article again on this David Howell boy as he becomes the UK’s youngest grandmaster ever.

“David Howell became the UK's youngest ever grandmaster in Stockholm yesterday where he tied for the second prize with 7/9 in the traditional Rilton Cup.

The Sussex 16-year-old already had two of the three required GM results, while his new 2501 world rating completes the requirements. At 16 years one month Howell breaks Luke McShane's UK age record set in 2000 by around six months. Before that our youngest GM was Michael Adams, now the world No9, who did it at 17. Howell is among the 20 all-time youngest GMs, though his contemporaries Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin are far ahead and approaching the elite GM 2700 level.”

David Wei Liang Howell also known as David Howell, besides being the most famous chess commentator, still holds the record for being the youngest Briton ever to achieve the title of Grandmaster which he earned only at the age of 16! (Read His Bio - Here)

David Howell in 2005. Photo: A. Raoff, CC 2.0.

Since then, he is continuously winning events, created records, won British Championship again, Created records, broke the world's top #100, and so on. Howell first cracked 2600 in January 2009 when he was 18 and has remained above that rating since, apart from a single rating period in November 2009 when he dipped below 2600 by three points. His progress since then has been slow and steady, averaging a rating increase of about a point a month until he reached 2700 in August 2015 at the age of nearly 25.

David first became one of the world's top 100 ranked players in April 2014. He dropped below #100 from June to August 2014, regaining his ranking in the top 100 in September 2014 where he has remained.


We all are aware of the FIDE Grandswiss Tournament from where 2 players will qualify for the Candidates Tournament 2022, and the rest of the top eight will qualify for the FIDE Grand Prix 2022.


In the ongoing Grandswiss, after 9 games, Howell only lost to Caruana, Drew 3 games, and won the rest of them. On game 9, he defeated GM Anton Korobov and climbed to second place in the standings with Caruana-Alireja; 6.5 points each. Howell is having one of the best tournaments. In an interview after the game, he even stated that:

“I think we were both out of book pretty early on,". But I am quite familiar with this type of structure at least and I've noticed he'd never done this type of thing before. Everyone is trying to surprise me in this tournament!”

© chess24, full standings here

Still, there are several games to left. But it will be a classic if Howell makes it to the Candidates! What's your take on this? Let me know in the comment!