Right now, for those that are interested, there’s a Big Chess Tournament on. The Tal Memorial (which you can follow as the games are played here) in which ten of the top fifteen players in the world are competing, including three rated over 2,800. Luke McShane is the only one there (I think) who is largely an amateur, and certainly there as a part time chess player. He’s also English which is rare(ish) amongst the best chess players in the world. Now McShane is rated way lower at around 2,700 and perhaps he’ll never get to the dizzy heights of the Carsens. I suspect you have to make it your life’s work to be so rated. But he’s certainly a talented player.
In 2010 he cleaned up World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen in a virtuoso display which you can play for yourself here. Like a Bach melody, he he keeps doing things that you weren’t expecting. Then last night he took on Levon Aronian who is now the equal World No. 1 (With Magnus Carlsen with whom he shares a rating of 2,835 – the highest ever bar Gary Kasparov who made it to 2,851 in 1999-2000). As black which is a strong disadvantage at that level he did something which is really very cool in my view – which is the positional sacrifice. He exchanged his rook for a knight and an attack on a cramped enemy king. And he prevailed. You can watch the game and the computer’s analysis if you like that kind of thing here. If you want to look at some human analysis you can try here.