Person of day - 25 APRIL 2023
John Denis Martin Nunn is one of the most gifted chess players in England’s history. By the age of 14, young John had already triumphed in the London championship. Like many players of the Albion, Nunn combined chess with serious scientific work- he became Oxford’s youngest student when he was 15 and later a doctor of mathematics. Only his series of successes- during which he won the U20s European championship, the English championship and became a grandmaster- convinced him to quit his teaching career in favour of a sporting one.
In the 1980s, John Nunn was rightly considered one of the strongest players in the Western world. He was one step away from reaching the candidates’ matches at the inter-zonal tournament in 1987 when he lost the additional match to Lajos Portisch. In 1989, he came sixth at the 1989 World Cup and he became one of the ten best players in the world. Nunn won the main tournament in Wijk aan Zee three times. In the 1984 Match of the Century, Nunn played at the seventh board, where he won a point out of three against Tal and Romanishin. In that same year, he showed the best besult on the second board during the Olympiad. Led by Nunn, the English team came third at the world team championship in 1985. He won several international tournaments alongside those already mentioned.
While he was still playing, he wrote Secrets of Grandmaster Chess- a series of textbooks on the endgame and a collection of his selected matches. In the 1980s, he switched to composition chess and reached the pinnacle in that endeavour, becoming a three-time world champion.
He is married to Petra Fink, a chess player, and the couple have a son, Michael. World champion Magnus Carlsen often cited the Englishman in interviews: “He just has too much in his head. He is too smart! An excessive desire for knowledge stopped Nunn from becoming not just a strong grandmaster, but a truly great player…”