Chess champ comes home showing all the right moves
By Jake Bambrough
CHESS players in Crowborough met a king of the sport when the British champion gave them a grandmasterclass.
David Howell, who used to play for the town’s club, returned to his old stomping ground on Saturday to talk about his triumph – and give tips to rook-ies.
He was the guest of honour at the Crowborough Junior Chess Tournament where more than 90 players aged between four and 18 competed.
He also guided young players through one of his games.
“I really enjoyed it, it’s refreshing to see the fresh faces of all the young players, I didn’t expect so many people to be there either,” said Mr Howell, who grew up in Sussex.
“My parents used to take me along to play at Crowborough, it helped me a lot to progress when I was a kid because I got to play some very good players.
“It’s quite humbling in a way to see the respect and support they give me and I try to take the time to answer questions, and speak to parents about how they can help their kids. It wasn’t that long ago that I was like them.
“It’s always nice to see the kids enjoying their chess, and anything I can do to help is a pleasure. “I’m hopeful that there are some players there who could follow in my footsteps. When I did the masterclass, there were a few kids who guessed my moves quicker than I did in the game.
“They have some great coaches, the young players are in the right hands to progress.”
Mr Howell began playing chess at the age of five, he shot to international attention when he became the youngest player to defeat a grandmaster (GM) in an official game at the age of eight. At 16 he became the youngest ever UK GM.
He became the youngest ever UK Chess Champion in 2009, aged 18. Now 22, he claimed his second title last month, going undefeated at the two-week British Chess Championship in Torquay.
Speaking about his recent title win, he added: “It had been a few years since I won my first title, so I was determined to win. There were quite a few faces from Sussex there to cheer me on too.”
Jonathan Tuck, Sussex junior chess training manager said: “We’re delighted that David, the top chess player in the country, opened the season for us. What he has achieved at such a young age is remarkable and we are hopeful that some of our youngsters can emulate him.
“He won his first tournament as a Sussex junior aged seven, and is now ranked in the world’s top 100 and our president. He is such an excellent role model.”