Sometimes described as the “world’s strongest amateur”, McShane has recently been trading blows with the world’s best during breaks from his full-time job in finance. His career started off more typically for a chess prodigy. He won the World U10 Championship aged 8, became a grandmaster at 16 and finished runner-up to Levon Aronian in the World Junior Championship aged 18. His last achievements as a junior were victory in the Lausanne Young Masters in both 2003 and 2004, when he finished above the likes of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Sergey Karjakin and Magnus Carlsen. He peaked back then at 2656 and world no. 42, but decided almost to turn his back on chess, studying philosophy and mathematics at Oxford University before going on to work in the City of London.
He was teased out of near retirement by the London Chess Classic tournament that was first held in 2009, and achieved his best result there in 2011, finishing joint fourth with three wins and one loss. In 2010-11 he won the B Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, but had to turn down his automatic invitation to the following year’s A Tournament due to work commitments. His aggressive and creative chess has made him a fan favourite, even in Russia, and he took part in the 2012 Tal Memorial in Moscow as the winner of a public vote. He didn’t disappoint, as although he lost four games he also won three against no lesser stars than Levon Aronian, Vladimir Kramnik and Alexander Morozevich. Others might consider that sufficient grounds to finally choose a career as a professional chess player.
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