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James Plaskett

Full name Harold James Plaskett
Country England
Born 18 March 1960
Title Grandmaster
Peak rating 2529 (July 2000)

Harold James Plaskett (born Dhekelia, Cyprus, 18 March 1960) was British Chess Champion in 1990, awarded the International Grandmaster title in 1985, and is also a writer, blogger, sometime explorer/cryptozoologist and legal campaigner. Married in 1995 to writer Fiona Pitt-Kethley, they have a son, Alexander, born 1996, and live in Cartagena, Spain.


Plaskett was educated at Bedford Modern School. He has written nine chess books and a quasi-autobiography, Coincidences. For some years in the 1990s he was chess columnist at The New Statesman.

He organised and led a 1999 National Geographic expedition to Bermuda to follow up reports of "Octopus giganteus" near the island, but was unsuccessful in filming it.

He then appeared unsuccessfully several times on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, and drew on these experiences to write a defence of contestant Charles Ingram, who along with two supposed accomplices had been found guilty of cheating to win the £1 million top prize.

This essay led to an article by Bob Woffinden in The Daily Mail of 9 October 2004 - Is The Coughing Major Innocent?, and also prompted a reconsideration of the case in The Guardian Comment is free blog on 17 July 2006 from Jon Ronson - Are the Millionaire three innocent? Woffinden and Ronson had both been initially sceptical.

His collaboration with Woffinden led to the publication of their book - Plaskett´s eleventh - Bad Show: The Quiz, The Cough, The Millionaire Major on 29 January 2015.

Plaskett finally got into the hot seat on a show broadcast on 21 January 2006, becoming the seventh person to reach £125,000 without using any lifeline en route to winning £250,000. He was accompanied by fellow Grandmaster Stuart Conquest.

He is a Deist, a dualist and a vitalist. He is also a critic of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory.

His brother, Allan, invented the snickometer device which is used globally to assist in umpiring decisions in cricket.


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