Luke McShane

Luke McShane finds balance to cement his place as world’s top amateur
Leonard Barden
Friday 14 August 2015 14.31 EDT

England’s Luke McShane is currently the world’s strongest amateur as the City financial trader keeps his place among the world top 100 grandmasters in rare breaks from work. Normally McShane’s chess is confined to matches for Werder Bremen, whose team he leads in Germany’s Bundesliga, or more rarely in England’s 4NCL league, though this summer he made a brief comeback and demonstrated his continued strength with victories in the Kings Place Open at the home of the Guardian and in a high-class tournament in the US.

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.

International play was very different a century ago, when some leading players were multi-talented polyglots who combined chess with a profession, outdoor sport or business. Siegbert Tarrasch was a family doctor, George Thomas the world No1 at badminton, Edward Lasker an engineer. As late as 1935 the Dutch amateur Max Euwe, a mathematics teacher, became world champion, while in 1954 England’s then No1, Hugh Alexander, a Bletchley Park codebreaker, tied for first at Hastings with the world No2, David Bronstein.

One of the most interesting amateurs was Ossip Bernstein, a financial lawyer who made then lost three fortunes – the first when he fled the 1917 Russian revolution, the second in the 1929 Wall Street crash and the third in 1940 when the Germans captured Paris.

Before the first world war Bernstein managed to combine both careers, competing in several major tournaments.After the war and the 1917 revolution Bernstein arrived in France almost penniless and had to drop out of chess for a decade while he built up a new financial clientele. The 30s depression curtailed his business and he made a partial return to chess. He was 50 years old but still impressively strong. In 1933 he tied a match 2-2 with the then world champion, Alexander Alekhine and a year later finished just behind Alekhine and Euwe at Zurich.

Full article here.

Ray-Robson-and-Susan-Polgar

I actually disagree with this. For example, Ray Robson (2680) is a full time student at Webster University. Since December 2014, Ray played a total of 19 games:

Top 100 Players August 2015 58 g 2680 0
Top 100 Players July 2015 61 g 2680 3
Top 100 Players June 2015 67 g 2674 0
Top 100 Players May 2015 64 g 2674 11
Top 100 Players April 2015 94 g 2656 0
Top 100 Players March 2015 96 g 2656 0
Top 100 Players February 2015 97 g 2656 5
Top 100 Juniors December 2014 8 g 2651 0

Luke McShane (2674), at the same period, played 26 games:

Top 100 Players August 2015 63 g 2674 18
Top 100 Players July 2015 57 g 2685 0
Top 100 Players June 2015 56 g 2685 0
Top 100 Players May 2015 56 g 2685 0
Top 100 Players April 2015 60 g 2685 1
Top 100 Players March 2015 60 g 2686 5
Top 100 Players February 2015 69 g 2672 0
Top 100 Players January 2015 71 g 2672 0
Top 100 Players December 2014 72 g 2672 2

 

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