FIDE Master (2001); International Master (2004); Grandmaster (2007); British U8 champion (1998); British U9 Champion (1999); British U10 Champion (1999); IAPS U13 Champion (1999); British Champion (2009 & 2013), British co-Champion (2014).
Early days (1)
David Wei Lang Howell learned the moves from his father in July 1996 when he was five years old. He played his first tournament, the Sussex U11 Open, two months later, winning three games out of six. He studied under the guidance of GM Glenn C Flear. (2) His initial rating at the age of 10 was 2193, above which it has always remained. Since that time he has steadily progressed through the ranks such that by 2015, he is the second rated player in the United Kingdom, second only to Michael Adams.
Master qualifications and norms
<FIDE Master> Howell won his FM title when he placed =1st in the European U12 Championship which ended 9 September 2001. (1) He gained his FM title at the age of 10 years 9 months and 26 days.
<International Master> He gained his three IM norms at the First Saturday IM Tournament in Budapest in April 2003, which he won; the British Championship, Edinburgh, in 2003; and at the Gibraltar Masters (2004) which finished 5 February 2004. (1) Howell thereby gained his IM title at the age of 13 years 2 months and 22 days.
<Grandmaster norms> He obtained the three necessary GM norms between 2004 and 2007 at the 4NCL team tournament (season 2004/5); the CCA-ICC International at New York in 2005 and at Stockholm's Rilton Cup (2007). (2) Thus on 5 January 2007, he earned his GM title aged 16 years and 1 month and 22 days.
<Youth> Howell was the British Under-8 Champion in 1998 and the British Under-9 and Under-10 champion in 1999. He won the London Junior Under-14 Chess Congress in 1999, while he was nine years old, breaking the record set by Nigel Short. He was second at the European U10 Championship staged in Halkidiki, Greece in October 2000 and =1st (3rd on tiebreak) at the European U12 Championship 2001 that was staged in Oropesa del Mar in Spain. In November 2002, he won bronze at the World U12 Championship played in Crete.(1) In October 2008, he scored 7.5/11 at the World U18 Championship staged in Vietnam, half a point behind the five co-leaders Ivan Saric (the winner on tiebreak), Ngoc Truongson Nguyen, Sam Shankland, Ioan-Cristian Chirila and Samvel Ter-Sahakyan.
<School> Howell won the Independent Association of Prep Schools U13 Championship in April 1999 a the age of eight, the youngest player to do so. (1)
<Junior (U20)> He first participated in the World arena in this division when he was 15 years old at the World Junior Championship (2006), scoring a solid 8/13. The following year he improved with 7.5/11 at the World Junior Championship (2007), placing =5th. Further improvement followed at the World Junior Championship (2008) where scored 9/13 to place =3rd behind Abhijeet Gupta and Parimarjan Negi. He lost momentum at the 48th World Junior Championship (2009) where his 8/13 was sufficient for =9th, 2.5 points off the lead.
<National> He first played in the British Championship in early 2000 at the age of nine, the youngest person ever to qualify for that event. (1) He has regularly participated in this event, placing 3rd at the British Championship (2012) and winning twice outright: at the British Championship (2009) with 9/11 and at the British Championship (2013) with a round to spare. He was co-winner, with Jonathan Hawkins, of the British Championship (2014), and then a runner-up alongside Nicholas Pert and Daniel Gormally behind Hawkins the following year at the British Championship (2015).
<Continental> David's first tilt at a continental championship was at the European Championship (2007) where he scored a par-for-rating 6/11. He improved with his next effort, that being at the European Union Championship (2008), where he scored 7/10 and placing =5th, a point behind the winner Jan Werle, and half a point behind joint second place getters Nigel Short, Viktor Laznicka and Michael Adams. The following year at the European Championship (2010), he scored 7.5/11, placing =11th. Unfortunately, his placement on tiebreak meant that he missed the cut for the World Cup 2011. His 7/11 at the European Championship (2012) and 6.5/11 at the European Championship (2015) were below his usual standard and again he failed to qualify for the next World Cup.
<2001-2006> The most significant tournament David played in during this early stage of his career was the Hastings Challenger Tournament played over the 2001-02 New Year period when he defeated Colin McNab (see below). In April 2003 he won first prize at the First Saturday IM Tournament, Budapest also gaining his first IM norm. He gained his third IM norm at the Gibtelecom Masters tournament in early 2004 (see above) and in February 2005, he won the Jersey Festival Open with 6/7 and two months later placed 2nd to veteran IM Ralf Akesson at the category 7 Gausdal Classics GM B in Norway.
<2007-2009> He placed =2nd at the 2006-7 Rilton Cup, scoring 7/9 - this was the event in which he won his final GM norm. In March 2008, he won the category 10 round robin Jack Speigel Memorial at Southend in England with 6/7, well clear of Peter K Wells (4.5/7) and Lawrence Trent (4/7). In July 2008, he was clear first at the 26th Andorran International Open with 8/9, half a point ahead of outright 2nd placed Romain Edouard. In October 2008, he won the Master Open at the 8th Winterthurer Chess Week (in Switzerland) with 7.5/9 on tiebreak ahead of Axel Bachmann. 2009 started with his initiation into the major events at Wijk aan Zee, where he was invited to play in the Corus Group C (2009). There he scored =4th with 7.5/13 behind Wesley So, Tiger Hillarp Persson and Anish Giri. David's introduction to supertournaments was as the bottom seed at the category 18 London Chess Classic (2009) where he was undefeated with 4/7 (+1 =6) to place =3rd behind the winner Magnus Carlsen, runner-up Vladimir Kramnik, alongside compatriot Michael Adams and ahead of Hikaru Nakamura, Nigel Short, Luke McShane and Ni Hua.
<2010-2011> David saw in 2010 by sharing first prize with Romain Edouard, Mark Hebden and Andrei Istratescu at the Hastings (2009/10) scoring 7/9. His success at the Corus C event in 2009 saw him invited to the Corus Group B (2010), where he scored a par-for-rating 6/13 to place =8th. In April 2010, he won the Southend Open outright with 6/7. 2010 finished with a mediocre 2/7 at the category London Chess Classic (2010), although he only lost 3 rating points highlighting that the event was the most powerful ever staged in Britain. 2011 started with =2nd at the Hastings Masters, scoring 6.5/9, half a point behind the winner Deep Sengupta. There followed =2nd behind Sergei Tiviakov at Leiden in July 2011 and he finished 2011 with 2/11 at the category 20 London Chess Classic (2011), again losing only a few rating points.
<2012-2014> Following a mediocre performance at the Hastings Masters tournament at the beginning of the year, Howell scored a strong 7/10 at the powerful Gibraltar Masters (2012), enough to place =7th. In May he was =1st alongside Vitaly Teterev with 6/7 in the Masters section of the 6th International Chess Festival staged in Wunsiedel in Germany. Two months later he won clear first at Leiden with 7.5/9. He started 2013 with another win at the Southend Open in March, scoring 6/7. There followed a series of championships and team events (see other sections) before he scored =2nd behind Nigel Short at the powerful Isle of Man Masters (2014) in October 2014.
<2015> The year started with =2nd behind Zhao Xue at the New Zealand Open. He placed outright second at the Gibraltar Masters (2015) with 8/10 (+6 =4), half a point behind the winner Hikaru Nakamura for one of the best performances of his career. He followed this in April with =1st from 7/9 at the Dubai Chess Open (2015) and in July 2015 with clear first place at Leiden in Netherlands, scoring an outstanding 8.5/9 (TPR of 2895) to propel him into the 2700 club for the first time
Team Events (3)
<National representation> Howell represented England on board 3 at the U16 Olympiad staged in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) in 2002, his team placing 13th. He also represented his country at the Dresden Olympiad (2008) held in Dresden, Khanty-Mansiysk Olympiad (2010) in Khanty-Mansiysk, Istanbul Olympiad (2012) in Istanbul and Tromso Olympiad (2014) in Troms, usually on board 4. During those Olympiads, he played 38 games for a percentage result of 65.8% (+18 =14 -6). He also represented England at the European Team Championship (2011) and European Team Championship (2013), playing board 3 in the former and reserve in the latter for a +2 =2 -7 result (27.3%).At Astana in 2019, Howell was part of the England Team that won the silver medal at the World Team Chess Championship. His performance on board 3 also earned him an individual bronze medal
<City> Howell played board 2 for London in the World Cities Team Championship (2012), his team placing 9th upon elimination in the Round of 16.
<National Leagues> David played in every 4NCL season from 2002 until 2013 inclusive. From 2002 to 2004 he played with the Slough Chess Club, and for the Guildford 2 team from 2005 to 2008 winning team silver in 2007 and 2008. He also played for the Guildford 1 team from 2006 to 2009 winning team silver, gold, gold and silver respectively. In 2010 and 2011 he played for the Pride and Prejudice team winning team silver and gold respectively, and in 2012 and 2013 he played for the Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher 1 team, winning gold and silver respectively.
He played in the French Top 16 League in 2006 (4), in the French Nationale I in the 2006-7 season and in the Catalan League in 2008. (5) He also played in the Greek Team Championship of 2009 (6) and the Dutch Team Championship in 2013. (7) He has played in the Bundesliga since the 2010-11 season (8)
At Astana in 2019, Howell was part of the England Team that won the silver medal at the World Team Chess Championship. His performance on board 3 also earned him an individual bronze medal. Howell went undefeated in the 2021 Hastings online tournament, cruising to victory and eclipsing the pack by 1.5 points. Also in 2021, he qualified and participated in the 54 player FIDE Grand Swiss 2021 where he tied for 4th through 16th, with seven points out of eleven rounds.
In the Nov 2021 FIDE list of top 100 active players, Howell is ranked 100th.
He is expected to go up on the rankings in the next FIDE ratings list.
In August 1999 at the age of eight, Howell became internationally famous when he broke the world record for the youngest player to have defeated a Grandmaster in an official game, when he defeated John Nunn at blitz chess. At the beginning of 2001, a few weeks after his 10th birthday, he became the youngest Briton to defeat a Grandmaster when he defeated Colin McNab at the Hastings International 2000-01. In 2002, David had a draw in blitz against Vladimir Kramnik, becoming the youngest player ever to have scored against a reigning world chess champion in an official game.
References and sources
Note: the primary source of information in this bio was derived from the FIDE database, and is not explicitly footnoted except in those passages where it was necessary to distinguish the information it provided from other sources.
<Sources> (1) Biography: http://davidhowellchess.com/frames....; (2) Wikipedia article: David Howell (chess player); (3) http://www.olimpbase.org/playersfn/...; (4) https://ratings.fide.com/individual...; (5) https://ratings.fide.com/individual...; (6) https://ratings.fide.com/individual...; (7) https://ratings.fide.com/individual...; (8) https://ratings.fide.com/individual...; (9) [ http://chess-results.com/tnr153950....; (10) https://ratings.fide.com/id.phtml?e...; (11) https://ratings.fide.com/top_files....
<References> David's chess blog has been at http://davidhowellchess.blogspot.com/ and Live rating: http://www.2700chess.com/