John Saunders was born in Loudwater, near High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, in 1953. He was educated at High Wycombe Royal Grammar School and Selwyn College, Cambridge, obtaining a degree in Law and Classics.
He was taught chess by his brother when aged about seven and started playing competitively at school aged 14. He has represented Wales at full international level and won a number of open chess tournaments.
From 1999 to 2010 he was the editor of British Chess Magazine (founded in 1881) and in September 2010 he became acting editor of 'Chess' Magazine. As well as writing and editing chess articles for chess magazines and websites, he has authored a number of chess books for beginners and elementary players. He has made numerous radio and TV appearances as a chess pundit, and also helps publicise major chess events such as the London Chess Classic and the Gibraltar Chess Festival.
He lives with his wife in Kingston-upon-Thames and also enjoys playing the guitar and bird-watching.