Armenians repeat their success
Little Knight meets big rook
The technical Olympiad spirit


Portrait Ronan Bennett

Ronan Bennett
Born on the 14th January 1956 in Belfast, Northern Ireland

 “I play chess, because every time I hope that I will succeed in having a perfect and pleasant game – and of course, I never manage this.”
“Chess saved me from the appalling boredom whilst I was in prison and since then, I have just fallen for this game”, says the author, Ronan Bennett.

In 1974 – he had just celebrated his 18th birthday – the innocent human rights demonstrator landed in the infamous Long Kesh prison. His solicitor gave him a chess book, “until then I hadn’t known that one could make a note of the moves in a chess game. I did know the rules, but had no idea about openings, end games or strategies.”

The graduate historian is particularly fascinated by chess in the 19th and early 20th centuries; “it is the unusual personalities which interest me like Wilhelm Steinitz, José Capablanca or Akiba Rubinstein. There were no databases available to them, they discovered and developed things themselves”.

Bennett’s written work also reflects his intense passion for the game of chess. Indeed his fifth novel which was published in 2006 is entitled ‘Zugzwang’ and is set against the background of the famous St. Petersburg Tournament in 1914 in which, Lasker, Capablance, Aljechin and Rubinstein had participated, amongst others.

He describes himself as being an “enthusiastic chess amateur” with “extremely modest success. I should have become used to losing and yet every time I am overcome with an awful feeling of desolation”.
However, during a simultaneous match, he succeeded, after intensive opening preparation, in drawing against the English Chess Master Dan King!

Ronan Bennett is not only connected to Dan King by his hitherto greatest success on the chess board, but both have been writing the chess column in The Guardian together for years - indeed they have reported on the Chess Olympiad in Dresden.