Shy prodigy who became a poised 'fighter'

I first met Michael Adams at a tournament in London in the early 1980s when he was 11 or 12 years old. He had an adjourned game which I helped analyse and, although he eventually only drew, I formed a firm impression then of a boy so quiet, shy and apparently harmless that he was undoubtedly utterly deadly.

I first met Michael Adams at a tournament in London in the early 1980s when he was 11 or 12 years old. He had an adjourned game which I helped analyse and, although he eventually only drew, I formed a firm impression then of a boy so quiet, shy and apparently harmless that he was undoubtedly utterly deadly.

Adams quickly progressed to become one of England's top players and this was confirmed a few years later when he reached the final of a rapid-play tournament against Nigel Short, then England's number one. Short kept posing terrible problems but Adams, in his middle teens, repeatedly found defences to stay in the game.

The eminent Russian grandmaster Yuri Averbakh classifies chess players in categories such as "problem solvers", "fighters", "artists" and "players". Most players are a mixture of these - and Adams is perhaps best described as a "fighting player": not too concerned with beauty like an "artist" or with finding the best move in every position like a "problem solver".

As one of the world's great players, he has built on his natural talent with much hard work including extensive opening preparation. It brought him to the World Championship final and I'm only sorry he didn't go one step further.

Jonathan Speelman is a chess grandmaster and was British champion three times

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