The Top Chess Players in the World

GM David Howell

David Howell
Full name
David Wei Liang Howell
Nov 14, 1990 (age 33)‎
Place of birth
Eastbourne, England, United Kingdom



David Howell is an English grandmaster and three-time British chess champion. He set several records as a chess prodigy, including being the youngest Briton to earn the GM title. Howell remains active as a player, columnist, and commentator.

Early Chess Career (1996 To 2008)

Howell learned how to play chess at five years of age and quickly became a formidable player. He won multiple British championships in the under-8, under-9, and under-10 age groups.

One highlight for Howell came when he became the youngest player to beat a GM in an official game, when the eight-year-old did so against GM John Nunn in a blitz game at the Mind Sports Olympiad. In the same vein, he was the youngest player ever to compete in a national chess championship (as a nine-year-old at the British championship in 2000).

In 2001, he became the youngest ever to beat a GM in classical time controls (Colin McNab). And finally, in 2002, Howell was the first to score against a reigning world champion, when the 11-year-old drew against GM Vladimir Kramnik.

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

Howell earned his GM norms from 2004 to 2007 and the title in 2007 at the age of 17. He became, and still is, the youngest-ever Briton to become a GM. Then he put together several strong performances in 2008, such as top-five showings at the World Junior Chess Championship and the EU Individual Open Chess Championship.

Multiple-Time British Champion (2009 To 2021)

In August 2009, the 18-year-old Howell scored 9/11 points at the British Chess Championship. He was the second-youngest to do so (after GM Michael Adams at 17 years old).

Four years later, Howell claimed his second British championship with 9.5/11 points at the 2013 event. Then he was co-winner with then-IM Jonathan Hawkins at the 2014 British Chess Championship with 8.5/11 points, making it three national titles for the former prodigy.

In 2015, Howell placed second at Gibraltar Masters and won the inaugural British Knockout Championship. The same year, in August 2015, he broke 2700 and earned career-bests for rating (2712) and world ranking (36).

David Howell at the 2016 London Chess Classic
David Howell at the 2016 London Chess Classic. Photo: W. Jekel, CC 2.0.

He scored a top-10 performance at the 2017 European Individual Chess Championship after leading for much of the tournament. He narrowly missed another top-10 finish at the 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss after blundering a drawn position in the final round. Howell went undefeated in the 2021 Hastings online tournament, cruising to victory and eclipsing the pack by 1.5 points. The field included four other top-10 English players.

Present And Future

David Howell remains a constant presence at high-level tournaments.
David Howell remains a constant presence at high-level tournaments. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Howell remains one of the best players in England and was temporarily among the world’s top-40 players. Don’t be surprised if he continues to challenge the world’s elite in tournaments. As a chess player, columnist, and commentator alike—and still relatively young—it seems like he has a lot left to give.

Best Game

Most Played Openings