Saunders learned to play the game at the age of seven and has played competitively since attending the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe (1963-70). He went on to Selwyn College, Cambridge where he obtained a degree in Law and Classics.
As a winner of domestic open tournaments, he reached a peak Elo rating of 2255 (in January 1993) and played internationally for his country Wales, when selected as 'first reserve' board for the 1997 European Team Championship.
Becoming less active as a player, Saunders has since made a career from chess writing and journalism, primarily as editor of British Chess Magazine from 1999 to 2010 and by providing news coverage for BBC Ceefax. He is also the founder and archivist of 'Britbase', a chess game database that attempts to log the collected gamescores of every major tournament in British chess history.
He has written three instructive guides on the game, covering a broad range of levels of expertise.