Throwback Thursday: McShane makes a splash at the London Classic

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/25/2021 – The first edition of the London Chess Classic was played in 2009 as an 8-players single round-robin event, with half the field comprised of top English grandmasters and the other half including some of the strongest players in the world. Luke McShane left a strong impression in his five showings at the Olympia Conference Centre, winning the brilliancy prize in 2009 and getting shared second place in 2010.

ChessBase 16 - Mega package Edition 2021 ChessBase 16 - Mega package Edition 2021

Your key to fresh ideas, precise analyses and targeted training!
Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.

More...

The world’s strongest amateur chess player

Currently ranked 61st in the world, Luke McShane has been frequently described as the strongest amateur chess player in the world. The 37-year-old from London entered Oxford University in 2003, where he read philosophy and mathematics at University College. A financial trader, he has managed to stay competitive at the highest echelons of the royal game despite having kept his daytime job.

In an article for The Guardian, Leonard Barden wrote in 2015:

The dearth of amateurs in present-day top chess is no accident. The physical demands of tough tournament schedules and the mental intensity of computer preparation for every game favour the young and those who can approach their games free of external distractions.

Luke McShaneMcShane, who left his job and increased his chess activity until he was forced to decline his invitation to the 2011 British Championship when he returned to full-time employment, participated in the first five editions of the London Chess Classic. 

In 2009, the inaugural edition was advertised as “the highest level chess tournament in London for 25 years”, and the tournament has run uninterrupted until 2019, presenting a mix of professional tournaments and a wide range of subsidiary chess activities. 

While most of the eyes were put on Magnus Carlsen in the first editions, McShane was a most welcome presence in the lineup. He only signed one draw in 2009, getting 5th place based on the Bilbao scoring system (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw), which was in place at the time. True to the spirit of the scoring system, McShane played enterprising chess throughout, which naturally backfired against the likes of Vladimir Kramnik, Michael Adams and Ni Hua. Nonetheless, he received the hefty €10,000 brilliancy prize for his victory over Hikaru Nakamura in round 5.

McShane’s strongest performance came the next year, when the lineup was further strengthened by the presence of Viswanathan Anand. In 2010, the Englishman shared second place with Anand, two points behind Carlsen according to the Bilbao system. Had the normal scoring system been in place, McShane would have tied for first place with Carlsen and Anand. Moreover, he obtained the highest Tournament Performance Rating of the event — a whopping 2838 points thanks to his undefeated performance with wins over Carlsen and Nigel Short!


Final standings - London Chess Classic 2010

Nr
Sd
Name Rating Fed
Score
TPR   Born   Tiebreak
1
2
Carlsen, Magnus 2802 NOR
13
2816   1990  
2
1
Anand, Viswanathan 2804 IND
11
2815   1969 No tiebreak
3
7
McShane, Luke J 2645 ENG
11
2838   1984 No tiebreak
4
4
Nakamura, Hikaru 2741 USA
10
2772   1987 Win over Kramnik
5
3
Kramnik, Vladimir 2791 RUS
10
2765   1975 Loss to Nakamura
6
5
Adams, Michael 2723 ENG
8
2725   1971  
7
8
Howell, David W L 2611 ENG
4
2583   1990  
8
6
Short, Nigel D 2680 ENG
2
2422   1965  

Currently, McShane writes a delightful weekly chess column for The Spectator.

Brilliancy prize 2009

Official reporter John Saunders wrote after round 5:

Hikaru never fails to entertain and Luke is once again fully focused on chess, so this was a sure-fire winner as far as the crowd was concerned. Luke decided to stick with his Na6 variation of the King’s Indian Defence with which he lost to Magnus, and his bravery was rewarded, not just with his second win but with the round’s best game prize of 1,000 euros. Well done, Luke, but also credit to Hikaru for a battling performance.

Saunders annotated the game as well.

 

Hikaru Nakamura, Luke McShane


King's Indian: A modern approach

Bologan: "If you study this DVD carefully and solve the interactive exercises you will also enrich your chess vocabulary, your King's Indian vocabulary, build up confidence in the King's Indian and your chess and win more games."


Final standings - London Chess Classic 2009

No.
Player
wins
draws
losses
points
Rating
Perf.
1
 Magnus Carlsen
3
4
0
13
2801
2839
2
 Vladimir Kramnik
3
3
1
12
2772
2787
3
 David Howell
1
6
0
9
2597
2760
4
 Michael Adams
1
6
0
9
2698
2746
5
 Luke McShane
2
1
4
7
2615
2606
6
 Ni Hua
1
3
3
6
2665
2599
7
 Hikaru Nakamura
0
6
1
6
2715
2644
8
 Nigel Short
0
5
2
5
2707
2593
Scoring System:
3 - Points per win
1 - Point per draw
0 - Points per loss

Links


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.

Discuss

Rules for reader comments

 
 

Not registered yet? Register