David Howell’s confident unbeaten 9.5/11 total in winning the British Championship at Torquay means England’s youngest grandmaster, 22, has reached the important 2650 rating mark, the level of the world top 100. It was Howell’s second title. He met tough opposition, was in danger only when Simon Williams spoilt a winning attack and generally outclassed his rivals.
Howell is now less than 40 rating points behind Nigel Short, 25 years his senior, which implies that the long-standing Michael Adams-Luke McShane-Short dominance at the peak of UK chess is under threat.
The defending champion, Gawain Jones, tied for second on 8/11 with Manchester’s Stephen Gordon and the veteran Mark Hebden, a consistent high finisher over several decades. Jones was handicapped because he had also qualified for the World Cup in Norway, which began a day after Torquay.
Though GMs took most of the top places, there were some encouraging performances by teenagers. Manchester Grammar’s Dan Fernandez beat two GMs and impressed with his creative play, while the fast improving Matthew Wadsworth, 13, of Reading School, totalled 6.5/11 for his best result yet.