People and personalities at the London Chess Classic

by ChessBase
12/12/2009 – Tournaments like the current one in London give us great chess and allow us to see some of the world's finest players up close. But they are also social occasions that bring together a multitude of interesting personalities. Too many to present all in one report. So here is a selection, ranging from players to authors, editors and successful traders. Photo impressions by Frederic Friedel.

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The London Eye (also known as the Millennium Wheel), 135 metres (443 ft) high and the largest Ferris wheel in Europe, is visited by over three million people a year. It was erected in 1999 and is located at the western end of Jubilee Gardens, on the South Bank of the River Thames.

Before the start of the London Chess Classic, two of the participants, Nigel Short and Luke McShane, went head to head in a game of blindfold chess in the London Eye.

In the background you can see Parliament and Big Ben

People and personalities

By Frederic Friedel

The Howell family in front of a portrait of the chess-playing son

Martin, Julia, David and Angeline – a really cool family we reported about here

Two of the world's most successful chess players (financially) playing blitz in the VIP room

David Robert Norwood, 41, is a grandmaster writer and businessman who joined the city investment bank Banker's Trust in 1991 and became the director of Special Projects at IP Group plc. Today he lives on an island far away from the mainstream of chess, business, or in fact society in general.

IM Ali Mortazavi, 2372, is a former chess player who made his fortune as a trader

Tara Adams, wife of Mickey, who works on her Eee netbook in the VIP area

The life of the VIP room: Viktor Korchnoi, who provides most of the animation to the discussion

Wife Petra Korchnoi, who at 82 accompanies and looks after Viktor all over the world

Espen Agdestein, rated 2382, brother of GM Simen, business advisor of Magnus Carlsen

Dominic Lawson, who writes for the Independent and the Sunday Times

Dominic is the son of a former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Lawson. He was educated in Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, and married Rosamond Mary Monckton, daughter of the 2nd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. He joined the BBC as a researcher, and then wrote for the Financial Times. From 1990 until 1995 he served as the editor of The Spectator magazine. From 1995 until 2005 Lawson was editor of The Sunday Telegraph, and currently he is an Editorial and Opinion writer for The Independent, where he usually takes lines contrary to the newspaper's general political position. For example he does not believe global warming is caused by increased greenhouse gas emissions, attributing it to solar radiation. Also he writes a weekly column for The Sunday Times. He is the author of the book "The Inner Game: Short V. Kasparov", which Robert Harris called "perhaps the most intimate portrait of a chess genius ever written." One of the more interesting people we have met in London.

The Chinese delegation with Li Wenliang and Crystal Zhu

GM Li Wenliang is the second of GM Ni Hua

Crystal Zhu is a second year PhD student who lives in England. She is doing research on how post colonialism theory is reinterpreted in the Chinese literature of the 80s. She is also a 2100 chess player.

Raymond Keene, the second English player (after Tony Miles) to become a grandmaster.

Raymond or "Ray" retired from competitive play in 1986 and is now better known as a chess organiser, columnist and author. He was involved in organising the 1986, 1993 and 2000 World Chess Championships, all held in London. He was awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to chess in 1985. Keene is a controversial figure in the chess world, and has had disputes with figures such as Miles, Viktor Korchnoi, John Donaldson and David Levy. His business dealings, and the quality of his chess books, have also been criticised. More about that in a separate report.

GM Jonathan Rowson, who helps out with the commentary

Diego Rasskin-Gutman, who presented his book "Chess Metaphors"

Diego Rasskin-Gutman is Ramón y Cajal Research Associate and Head of the Theoretical Biology Research Group at the Institute Cavanilles for Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, University of Valencia, Spain. He is the coeditor (with Werner Callebaut) of Modularity: Understanding the Development and Evolution of Natural Complex Systems (MIT Press, 2009). We will provide you with a review of his chess metaphors book at a later date.

IM Malcolm Pein, who put this whole event together

Tournament Schedule

Monday 7th December Press Conference + blindfold display  


8th December

Round 1



9th December

Round 2



10th December

Round 3


Friday 11th December Rest day and Community / School events  


12th December

Round 4



13th December

Round 5



14th December

Round 6



15th December

Round 7



The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!

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