Player Profiles

Michael Adams
Michael Adams
Rating: 2661 (world no.76) | Peak Rating: 2761 (world no.4)

The current British Champion and World Senior Champion is a fixture at the London Chess Classic, having played in every event since the inaugural tournament at Olympia in 2009. Talented from a young age, Michael Adams won his first British Championship at the age of 17, since when he has won the tournament on a further seven occasions. By the early 1990s, the man known as Mickey was establishing himself as one of the world’s leading players and he spent many years in the world’s top five, coming agonisingly close to winning the FIDE World Championship in 2004, only to lose a rapid playoff in the final.

Adams helped England to the bronze medals at the 1990 Olympiad then to gold at the 1997 European Team Championship. For more than two decades he anchored the team on top board, including as England finished second to Russia at the 2019 World Team Championship.

Renowned for his positional prowess, Adams is sometimes known as ‘the Spider’ on account of his ability to run opponents out of active possibilities. Away from chess he is a keen runner, as well as Tottenham Hotspur and cricket fan, not least at the County Ground, Taunton.

D.O.B. 17th November 1971 (Truro)

Mateusz Bartel
Mateusz Bartel
Rating: 2659 (world no.79) | Peak Rating: 2677 (world no.73)

Four-time Polish Chess Champion Mateusz Bartel has long been a regular in the Polish national side, who finished fourth at the recent European Team Championship, where he chipped with an unbeaten 5½/8. He has also won individual gold medals at the 2010 and 2022 chess Olympiads.

Bartel has long competed in a number of Europe’s leading team competitions, not least the German Bundesliga and the European Club Cup. There he has often played for regular Czech Champions Novy Bor, including this year in Albania where they finished second behind Magnus Carlsen’s Offerspill side.

Ever a very active player, Bartel has won many international tournaments and arrives in London in good form, having scored a pretty respectable 6/11 at the recent super-strong FIDE Grand Swiss on the Isle of Man, where he was only defeated by elite GM Richard Rapport. He is known for his dynamic approach, including being one of the world’s leading French Defence practitioners, and has been married since 2013 to WGM Marta (née Przezdziecka).

D.O.B. 3rd January 1985 (Warsaw)

Dommaraju Gukesh
Dommaraju Gukesh
Rating: 2720 (world no.28) | Peak Rating: 2758 (world no.8)

Top seed and the second youngest player at the London Chess Classic, Dommaraju Gukesh will not just be chasing tournament victory, but also fully aware that a good result may help him to qualify for April’s Candidates Tournament. The Classic is part of the FIDE Circuit, a series of strong tournaments which enable players to gain points and have a shot at Candidates place. That berth appears to lie between Anish Giri and Gukesh, who would no doubt love to qualify and so join his compatriots Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa and Vidit Gujrathi in Toronto.

In early 2019 Gukesh came to the attention of the chess world when he became the then second youngest grandmaster of all time, after which his continued rise has been largely meteoric. By August 2022 he was playing on top board for India 2 at the Chennai Chess Olympiad, where they were up with the leaders throughout, eventually claiming the bronze medals. Gukesh began with a quite astonishing 8/8 before finishing on 9/11 for an individual gold medal.

This year Gukesh has largely continued to progress, tying for first with Levon Aronian and Ian Nepomniachtchi at the WR Masters in Dusseldorf and only being eliminated by world no.1 Magnus Carlsen come the quarter-finals of the FIDE World Cup, although in London he will be looking to bounce back from an unusually below par result at the FIDE Grand Swiss last month.

D.O.B. 29th May 2006 (Chennai)

Luke McShane
Luke McShane
Rating: 2631 (world no.119) | Peak Rating: 2713 (world no.29)

A child prodigy, McShane became World Under-10 Champion when aged just 8 and by the age of 16 was a grandmaster, then the youngest ever British holder of that famed chess title. He quickly established himself as a regular in the England team and has won a number of major tournaments, although his best-known success saw him finish slightly down the table at the world-class 2012 Tal Memorial in Moscow, where he won many fans for his stylish victories over Levon Aronian, Alexander Morozevich and former world champion, Vladimir Kramnik.

McShane studied maths and philosophy at Oxford University and now lives in Cambridge with his young family. He is renowned for being unusually normal for a chess player, as well as for deep insight, be that in the City where he has worked or at the chess board, where he has a well-deserved reputation as a unique thinker. McShane finished equal second behind Magnus Carlsen at the 2010 London Chess Classic, won the British Knockout Championship there in 2017, and will be looking forward to more complex and lengthy battles at this year’s event.

D.O.B. 7th January 1984 (London)

Jules Moussard
Jules Moussard
Rating: 2635 (world no.109) | Peak Rating: 2686 (world no.51)

Big things were predicted of Jules Moussard when he finished second in the World Under-10 Championship and in recent years he has begun to fulfil some of those. The French International didn’t become a grandmaster until 2016, crossing the magical 2600 barrier in late 2019 ahead of continuing to improve during the Covid era, winning major tournaments in 2020 at Cappelle-la-Grande and Barcelona.

With an aggressive style and love of claiming scalps – Fabiano Caruana has lost twice in the past year to the French no.5 – Moussard will be a danger to all at the Classic, where he has regularly competed in the Open, sharing first place with English GM Nick Pert in 2018. A proud Parisian, Moussard loves to travel, especially in warmer climes, but can also work hard. Indeed, he trains regularly with world-class compatriot, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, a fruitful partnership which has helped to ensure Moussard’s opening preparation can be deadly and one which may well help him to cross the hallowed 2700 boundary at some stage.

D.O.B. 16th January 1995 (Paris)

Hans Niemann
Hans Niemann
Rating: 2667 (world no.68) | Peak Rating: 2708 (world no.31)

Hans Niemann became an overnight household name after defeating Magnus Carlsen in the 2022 Sinquefield Cup, causing the then world champion to immediately withdraw from the tournament, after which there was a great deal of debate about what had occurred. This summer Niemann came to an agreement with, Carlsen and Nakamura, which saw him reinstated to the highly popular chess platform./p>

Niemann became a grandmaster in 2020, quickly crossing the 2600 boundary the next year during which he won the super-tough World Open in Philadelphia, as well as the U.S. Junior Championship. By the end of 2022 he had crossed the 2700 boundary for the first time, overcoming Classic rival Amin Tabatabaei in a playoff to finish second at the very strong Sunway Sitges Open.

2023 has seen Niemann play virtually non-stop since April, competing in Menorca, Baku, Sharjah, Dubai, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Kazakhstan, Romania, Abu Dhabi, Mexico City and the Isle of Man, where he finished on 6/11 in the FIDE Grand Swiss. He followed this up with an awesome performance in The Tournament of Peace 2023 which took place in Zagreb, Croatia. Niemann finished the tournament on an undefeated 8/9 a full 3 points ahead of the field and with an astronomical TPR of 2946. The last round in Croatia was less than 24 hours from the start of the London Chess Classic round 1, which if nothing else proves the man’s remarkable energy!
Hans Niemann competes in London Classic after stunning success in Zagreb - The Guardian

D.O.B. 20th June 2003 (San Francisco)

Shreyas Royal
Shreyas Royal
Rating: 2438 (world no.1264) | Peak Rating: 2456

14-year-old Shreyas Royal arrives at the London Chess Classic in excellent shape after a superb showing at the FIDE Grand Swiss. Royal was only rated above the two local Manx players and a long way below all his opponents, but belied that as he defeated European Rapid Champion Jaime Santos Latasa and came extremely close to a GM norm, while facing almost exclusively 2600+ rated opposition.

Royal moved from his native India to London at a young age when his father was offered a senior IT job. He hit the headlines in 2018 when the then Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, was successfully lobbied to grant his father a new work visa on account of his son’s precocious chess ability.

Last year Royal became England’s youngest-ever International Master and it would be amazing at the Classic if he could take another step towards his goal of breaking David Howell’s record of being England’s youngest-ever holder of the grandmaster title at the age of 16. With a classical and unflustered style, don’t be surprised if teenager Shrez claims some more major scalps at the Classic.

Peak Rating: 2456

Amin Tabatabaei
Amin Tabatabaei
Rating: 2692 (world no.40) | Peak Rating: 2696 (world no.41)

Iranian no.2 Amin Tabatabaei is a man currently climbing the world rankings. A good result on his London Chess Classic debut could well send him over the magic 2700 barrier and like with compatriot Parham Maghsoodloo, who knows just how far he might climb? While only 22 Tabatabaei has already won the Master Tournament at the famous Biel Chess Festival and is, indeed, used to competing in Europe.

Tabatabaei plays for Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga, a sister team of the famous football one, and certainly won’t be rusty at the Classic. Indeed, in recent weeks he has competed in Germany, helped Iran to win the Asian Games Mens Team Chess Championship, and scored 6/11 at the FIDE Grand Swiss on the Isle of Man.

Already a threat to the world elite, having defeated the likes of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Ian Nepomniachtchi this year, as well as Magnus Carlsen at blitz, Tabatabaei may well fancy his chances at the Classic. His game has a sound positional basis, but certainly doesn’t lack dynamism, while his wide opening repertoire makes him a hard man to prepare for.

D.O.B. 5th February 2001 (Tehran)

Nikita Vitiugov
Nikita Vitiugov
Rating: 2704 (world no.32) | Peak Rating: 2751 (world no.15)

Nikita Vitiugov emigrated to Spain in 2021 along with his wife and young son, a move he decided to make permanent last year, horrified at his mother country’s invasion of Ukraine. Long used to the globetrotting lifestyle of a strong grandmaster, he has now decided to make a new home and made his debut for England at November’s European Team Championship. There he turned in a typically impressive performance on top board, remaining undefeated and scoring ‘+2’ as England faded at the death to finish sixth.

The 2021 Russian Champion twice won the World Team Championship with his native country and is renowned for his universal style, as well as excellent preparation. Little wonder then that he has seconded Peter Svidler in two Candidates tournaments, as well as his good friend Ian Nepomniachtchi in the last two world championship matches.

Vitiugov is looking forward to returning to the London Chess Classic, having helped the Rest of the World to victory over England whilst finishing as the highest scorer at the 2021 edition. Away from the board, he is an avid football fan, as well as someone who likes long walks, classical music and the BBC series Cormoran Strike.

D.O.B. 4th February 1987 (Leningrad, now St. Petersburg)

Andrei Volokitin
Andrei Volokitin
Rating: 2659 (world no.80) | Peak rating: 2725 (world no.20)

The current invasion of his homeland has forced Andrei Volokitin and his family to relocate to Poland, where he remains a pretty active chess player. This year he defeated Michael Adams 4½-3½ at a special UK vs Ukraine Challenge Match, the first half of which took place at the Ukrainian Embassy in Holland Park, with the concluding stages hosted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Canary Wharf.

Volokitin became a grandmaster at the age of 15 and when only 18 helped Ukraine win the gold medals at the Mallorca Olympiad. With a keen eye for a tactic and an innate attacking style, Volokitin remains a dangerous opponent for anyone and like Bartel, arrives having scored a pretty respectable ‘+1’ at the extremely strong FIDE Grand Swiss in Douglas. He is looking forward to his second visit to London this year, during which he is likely to enjoy plenty of running and swimming, as well as listening to some of his favourite Phil Collins songs!

D.O.B. 18th June 1987, Lviv, Ukraine