Luke McShane

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.

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11 years ago

Cool indeed, and nothing short of brill.
He held on to his Q-Knight until move 14 and then cleared the path for it towards the brilliant attack on the white Rook on a1.
Sacrificing Rook for Knight made Aronian slip on move 11, which nobody I read seems to mention as the main cause of Aronian’s downfall, with both his move 15 and move 20 both doubtfull as well.
Admittedly, McShane had a touch of luck there, but then: you have to MAKE your luck, don’t you?
What a treat this was on a disastrous French Open final day.
I saw Luke when he was four years old, playing in a club in Clapham, London. He was there with his uncle and already astonished those there.

I remember it well, because I had just started to play and was there to buy my first chessbook ( Reuben Fine). And how he progressed and what fun his games are these days. Wish he played more often.

11 years ago

That’s a cracker, Nicholas! McShane is certainly dynamic. White’s position after 14 is hilarious…I can’t see any way to untangle quickly enough. If we consider his material advantage as roughly worth six tempo, he’s effectively at least that far behind…

Ramirez asks at 21. where did he go wrong earlier. In my humble opinion, it was way back at 7.bh4. He simply couldn’t get away with the exchange after that. Ramirez looks at 9.e4, but why push through a centre you can’t hold…I would have settled for 9.e3…but in any case, he’s on the back foot from now on. 7.bd2 is the only one move that makes sense to me, with the minor loss of tempo ie. black is now white, and the icky concession that 5.bg5 was a flight of fancy…black was under no obligation to play e6, and indeed he didn’t for another 7-8 moves…

In which case, I wouldn’t have bothered with 5.bg5 in the first place, and just played 5.e3 after 4…a6. But that’s just my very amateur analysis with the aid of hindsight speaking! Interesting game to learn a lot from though…and so well spotted by McShane, who admits in the video afterwards he didn’t know the lines after 5.bg5…the exchange just felt right and he went for it. Hmm, perhaps having nothing to lose is the real mother of invention?