The Talking Drum
featuring  IM Kevin Denny


For many years IM Kevin Denny has been seen as one of the brightest talents the Caribbean region has ever produced. This notion came quickly as he made an impression in many youth tournaments, both at home and regionally. Remarkably, the newly-minted IM recently won the Barbados Championship for an unprecedented 12th time… the first at the tender age of 18! A Chess Olympian, and Barbados highest FIDE rated player ever, IM Denny drew early inspiration from the games of Bobby Fischer and has to his credit some very nice victories.  The Denny-Greenfeld game in the 1988 Olympiad is one that shows the blend of tenacity and alertness in his play. The Denny-Djuric game shows his crisp tactical vision. Better things are yet to come from the 34-year old IM!

IM Kevin Denny

IM Kevin Denny

Road to Success for Kevin Denny

Born in Birmingham, England, but raised in Barbados, young Kevin learned the game in 1983 as a student at Combermere Secondary School. Despite learning the royal game at the relatively late age of 15, he was immediately drawn to it. Fortune would shine on Kevin as he was immediately exposed to chess literature by his next door neighbor, Mr. A.V. Thompson, an avid chessplayer.  IM Denny reflects on the importance of that event:

"The advantage of being exposed to chess literature at the very beginning of one's chess development is that bad practices are easily corrected. Through observation of many self taught players in action, it became clear to me that one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome in chess is the eradication of bad habits after they have become ingrained in the psyche, for example: 1) Exposing one's queen too early in the opening. 2) Ignoring King Safety. 3) Pawn hunting in the opening at the expense of rapid development."

As with most chess players, there is one or more books that are instrumental in piquing further curiosity after learning the basic rules. For this budding chess master, four books were instrumental in Kevin's early development. They were: (1) How to Play the Chess Openings (2) How to Play the Middlegame in Chess (3) How to Play the Endgame in Chess and (4) The Art of Chess Combinations. Kevin reflects, "Luckily for me the first chess books I read allowed me to avoid the above-listed pitfalls. All four of these excellent books were written by the Late GM Eugene Znosko-Borovsky, and though dated, I would recommend them highly to anyone starting out in chess." As Kevin's appetite for chess and chess theory grew, his progress began to skyrocket. Two years after learning the game (at a "late" age),  his compulsive desire resulted in his first title as the 1985 National Junior Champion! Only one year later, he would become the National Champion at the age of 18!

"My favorite player of all time is Bobby Fischer; his determined struggle and ultimate triumph over Soviet dominance in chess has served to inspire me."

Chess Résumé

  • National Junior Champion, 1985
  • Silver Medalist in the 1986  C.A.C Under-20 Championship
  • Gold Medalist in the 1987 C.A.C Under-20 Championship (His 10½-½ score earned him the FM title)
  • Caribbean Open Champion - 1991
  • A 12-time Barbados National Champion, IM Denny made his debut in 1985, and has won in 1986 & 1988, 1991 to 1996 & 1998 to 2001. On two occasions, he scored 11-0!  In 1987, Kevin boycotted the National Championship, and in 1997 he lost on tiebreak points. 
  • Awarded a 10 year subscription by the World Blitz Chess Association for the best blitz (5 minute) game played in 1992 for win over Yugoslavian GM Steffan Djuric in the St. Maarten Open, Blitz Final - 1992.
  • Perhaps his most exciting win was his victory over the tough Israeli player, GM Alon Greenfeld. The game was played on the top board at the 1988 Olympiad in Greece.
  • Earning the IM Title at the Subzonal Ajedrez 2.3.5, Venezuela - 2001

The Makings of a "Bajan" Master

Asked about his training methods, IM Denny asserted, "I train about two to three hours daily, give or take. This regimen varies depending on whether or not I'm preparing for a specific event. This training usually involves the use and study of
Chess Informants and New In Chess Yearbooks, these two important publications contain the latest developments in opening theory and are integral tools to successful tournament play." Some of his favorite books among many are:  (1) The Games of Bobby Fischer by Robert Wade & Kevin O'Connell (2) My System by Aron Nimzowitsch (3) Confessions of a Grandmaster by Andy Soltis  (4) Practical Chess Endings by Paul Keres and (4) My 60 Most Memorable Games by  Bobby Fischer.

As far as influences… "My favorite player of all time is Bobby Fischer; his determined struggle and ultimate triumph over Soviet dominance in chess has served to inspire me." While GM Fischer was certainly influential helping him to develop a "chess personality," Kevin  cites his mother as his greatest positive influence in his overall chess development with her unwavering love, support and belief in his abilities. This  was especially important in the early years of his chess development.  As it were, IM Denny has become an influence for the promising contingent of young Barbadian players. He gives the following advice as keys to better tournament results: (1) Strong nerves (2) Belief in one's own ability (3) A well worked out opening repertoire (4) Sound endgame technique and (5) A bit of luck. Perhaps the games below will show us what he means!

Interview composed from e-mail exchanges: October 2001

Selected Games of IM Kevin Denny

GM Alon Greenfeld-Denny, 1988, 0-1.
Denny- GM Steffan Djuric, 1992, 1-0.
Alexandre Nascimento-Denny, 1994, 0-1.
Carlos Davila-Denny, 1995, 0-1.
Denny-Wong Meng Kong, 1996, 1-0.

GM Gildardo Garcia-Denny, 1998, ½-½.
Denny- Sergio Minero-Pineda, 1998, 1-0.
Wilson Palenicia-Denny, 2001, 0-1.
Denny-IM Julio Ostos, 2001, 1-0.
Denny-FM Philip Corbin, 2001, 1-0.

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