David Howell and the Great Helicopter Tour

10/30/2003 – It's right out of Harry Potter. 12-year-old chess wizz David Howell is taken on a whirlwind helicopter tour of schools in England as part of National Chess week. He's on a mission to show other kids how exciting a good match can be – and why it's not just a game for adults. Here's a pictorial report...

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After appearing with Mike Sargent on BBC Breakfast TV in the Eastbourne College Long Room on October 17th, David travelled by Royal Navy helicopter to Guildford, Wokingham, Leicester and the Art of Chess exhibition at Somerset House. He enjoyed enthusiastic receptions at each school, and took part in individual and simultaneous events, and even a human chess game! This tiring but fantastic day concluded with games against other members of the England 2003 World Youth Championship squad at the brand-new City Inn Hotel, Westminster. David's travels were broadcast throughout the day on BBC News and CBBC Newsround.

Picture Gallery


Suited up for the adventure – David Howell ready for the first take-off


It is all for Barnardos and the National Chess Week


The action whips up enormous media interest


A typical reception for David


Everyone wants a photo with a Royal Navy helicopter


With mother Angie Howell

All photos by courtesy of the David Howell web site

About David

David Howell was born in Eastbourne on 14 November 1990 and has been playing chess since the age of five years and eight months, when he quickly learned to defeat his father following the purchase of a second-hand set at a jumble sale. He has been the British Under-8, Under-9 and Under-10 champion and now plays mostly in open adult tournaments, unless he is representing England in the World and European Junior Championships.

In August 1999, David became famous internationally when he broke the world record for the youngest player to have defeated a Grandmaster in an official game. He defeated GM Dr John Nunn in a blitz game at the Mind Sports Olympiad. David still holds this record. He is also the youngest player in the world to have qualified to compete in a national chess championship, taking part in the British championship in August 2000.

In 2001, David came joint first in the European Under-12 Championship and joint second in the World Under-12 Championship. He is now a FIDE Master (FM) with a current rating of 2381. In the 2001-2 Hastings Challengers tournament, David became the youngest ever British player to defeat a grandmaster in classical chess when he beat GM Colin McNab. In November 2002 David won the Under-12 bronze medal in the World Youth Chess Championships, Heraklion, Crete.

David has appeared on Breakfast TV, Blue Peter, Nickelodeon, Good Morning America, Richard and Judy, Britain’s Brilliant Prodigies and several local news programmes. During the last few years, David has played in France, Greece, Spain, Czech Republic, Belgium, Ireland, Hungary, Serbia-Montenegro, Singapore, Malaysia and the USA.

While chess is his main interest, David enjoys playing football, rugby, squash, table tennis and Playstation, among other things. He is a loyal Manchester United supporter, and is keen on reading JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien and Philip Pullman. His favourite bands are the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, the White Stripes and the Manic Street Preachers. His ambitions are to gain his third and final International Master norm, to become a Grandmaster, and to continue playing chess internationally.


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