Person of day - 7 JANUARY 2021
A native of London, Luke James McShane started off as a well-known wunderkind. He won the World U10 Championship in 1992, overtaking Alexander Grischuk, Etienne Barcot and Francisco Vallejo and he soon caused an uproar in the adult championship in England’s capital. The young Englishman soon defeated his first adult grandmasters and became a popular figure in his homeland. He was signed on by a personal sponsor- the computer company “Psion”.
In 1995, Luke became one of the heroes of the Internet session Garry Kasparov led for young English chess players. McShane beat a fearsome opponent with blacks, but in the decisive moment, rather than performing a finer ending, he decided to sacrifice his rook and play for check-mate, which didn’t materialise- as a result, Kasparov celebrated victory. At 16, Luke set another national record and became the youngest English grandmaster in history. McShane is a member of the English national team and plays for his country in Olympiads and European team championships.
In 2002, McShane came second at the U20s world champion, losing to Levon Aronian by half a point and then he won the grand tournament of young starts, which took place in Switzerland. Talents like Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Sergey Karjakin, Etienne Bacrot, Arkadij Naiditsch and Alexandra Kosteniuk were present, but Luke triumphed, beating Mamedyarov in the semi-final and Bacrot in the final. The next time, Luke defended his title, leaving both Mamedyarov and Magnus Carlsen behind. In 2004, the Englishman was second junior (after Teimour Radjabov) in rating.
Work and education hindered McShane’s subsequent career. The young chess player completed the mathematics course at Oxford and won a job at the famous bank Goldman Sachs, owned by the Rothschild. Luke played during holidays in team tournaments and remained an amateur with a rating of 2006.
He returned in 2009. In England’s capital, the super-tournament London Chess Classic began to be held, where Luke was invited as one of the hosts. McShane could not handle Carlsen or Kramnik, but he did beat Nakamura and Short. Next year, McShane left his job and immersed himself into tournaments completely. The next English “super-tournament” brought him second place and a sensational annihilation of Carlsen.
In 2011, he split first pace with David Navara in the secondary tournament in Wijk aan Zee, but he remained second due to additional results. He was the winner of the viewers’ vote on the Russian Chess Federation’s website, which enabled Luke to compete in the Tal Memorial in 2012. Luke did not disappoint Muscovite viewers: though he lost 4 matches, he knocked out Morozevich, Aronian and Kramnik! In 2012, Luke McShane’s rating reached a record 2713 Elo points. Sadly, after his misfortune at the London Chess Classic in 2012, the Englishman decided to return to work in a bank.
2015 gave hope to Luke McShane’s return to professional chess. The former wunderkind performed brilliantly in Las Vegas, winning a large rapid tournament that brought together England’s strongest players with 9,5 points out of 10.