My father, a keen chess player with an ECF rating of 200 (around 2100-2200), taught me how to play the game at the age of six.
In fact, a number of my close relatives also play. My oldest brother Tony, who also reached the dizzy heights of 200 ECF, managed to draw with former world champion, Anatoly Karpov, in a six board simul. If my memory serves me well, all the other competitors in the simul later went on to become grandmasters. Most notable of these players was Nigel Short. My sister Kim, who sadly passed away at a young age, also managed to draw with the current women’s European champion. Indeed, the only family member who was not so interested in the game was my brother Paul.
From an early age, my parents were kind enough to taxi me from one Wey Valley tournament to another. Chess maverick IM Mike Basman, who is renowned for his wacky opening choices, organised several fantastic junior tournaments throughout the year and helped me to improve my level of play. My father would also take me to an adult chess club once a week. I still have fond memories of the smoky environment, the late nights and the gentleman who would speak to himself whilst pondering what move to make! My early clubs include Fleet, Woking, Farnham and Guildford, all of which contributed to an improvement in my standard of play.
The openings that I currently play i.e. the Classical Dutch, the French and the English are in fact the same openings that my father used to play and I am extremely grateful that he had the patience to teach his rather cheeky son!
Around 1992 I achieved my first ever FIDE chess rating which was 2255 – not bad for a twelve year old! At around the same time, I took part in the Hastings Masters where I lost a horrible game against Tim Spanton in which I managed to get back-rank mated. The game was then published by my opponent in an article about how easy it was for patzers (weak players) to gain an international rating and surprise, surprise, this game was used as the main example. Needless to say, this spurred me on to rapidly improve!
At around the age of twelve, I started to receive invitations to various international tournaments. The European and World Youth Championships started to become regular events for me and at sixteen, I achieved my International Master title.
I eventually became a Grandmaster at the age of twenty-seven after taking some time out to study philosophy and cognitive studies at Sussex University as well as teaching chess in a number of schools in Surrey such as Cranleigh Prep, Cranleigh Main, St. Peters Farnham, St. Polycarps Farnham, William Cobbett Farnham and St. Thomas Guildford.
I have also coached a wide range of individuals, ranging from six years old to seventy-two years old! One of my pupils, Christopher Hinchcliff, became the under 9 Gigafinal champion. Another pupil that I used to coach is currently a quiz expert on the BBC2 program Eggheads!
In addition to the coaching, I have also written a number of articles for several magazines and I currently have five books published.
Please see some of my favourite games featured on this website.
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