John Eric Littlewood (25 May 1931 – 16 September 2009) was for many years a leading British chess player and took the title of national senior champion in 2006. Perhaps his most famous game was the one he lost against the world champion Mikhail Botvinnik at the Hastings International Chess Congress 1961/2. Littlewood launched a fearsome attack which Botvinnik was able to defend only by means of a tactical finesse. Botvinnik chose to include the game in his autobiographical Best Games 1947-1970.
John Littlewood was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire in 1931, the fourth of his eleven siblings. He did not start playing chess until he was 13, when he was introduced to the game by a friend. He kept on losing to his friend, so he went into the school library and checked out every single chess book. He then read a lot of chess tactics, and eventually beat his friend.
At 16 he had improved and joined the local chess club. As he had not played that many people, he was surprised when he found he could beat everyone in the club. At this point he became very keen on the game. While at Sheffield University, Littlewood won three university tournaments and the Sheffield Championship.