Peter Leko

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Peter Leko
Peter Leko 06 08 2006.jpg
Full name Peter Leko
Country Hungary
Born (1979-09-08) September 8, 1979 (age 34)
Subotica, Yugoslavia
(now Serbia)
Title Grandmaster
FIDE rating 2740 (August 2014)
(No. 22 in the August 2014
FIDE World Rankings)
Peak rating 2763 (April 2005)
The native form of this personal name is Lékó Péter. This article uses the Western name order.

Peter Leko (Serbian: Петер Леко; born September 8, 1979 in Subotica, Yugoslavia) is a Hungarian chess grandmaster. He became a grandmaster in 1994 at the age of 14 years (a world record at the time). He was the challenger in the Classical World Chess Championship 2004 and tied Vladimir Kramnik 7–7, but Kramnik retained his title. His best world ranking was number four, first achieved in April 2003. Leko is the son-in-law of Armenian grandmaster Arshak Petrosian.

Early years[edit]

Peter Leko was born in the city of Subotica, Yugoslavia but moved to Szeged at age one. He was taught chess by his father shortly before he turned seven.[1][2] and took part in tournaments from the age of nine. His first coach, Tibor Karolyi, began work with him in 1989, ending three months before Leko became a grandmaster. They later reunited in 1998 until the end of 2000.[3]

Leko-Tihonov 1992

As a junior player, Leko competed in various sections of the World Youth Chess Championship, achieving bronze in the U-10s in 1989, bronze in the U-12s in 1990, placing fourth in the U-14s in 1992, silver in the U-14s in 1993 and winning gold in the U-16s in 1994.

In 1992, Leko reached the title of International Master and in 1994 achieved the title of Grandmaster at the age of 14 years 4 months 22 days, at the time the youngest to have done so, breaking the record previously held by Judit Polgar.[4]

Rising to the top[edit]

In 1995, Leko was invited to the prestigious Dortmund Chess Meeting where sharing third place (5/9) with Vassily Ivanchuk [5] began a series of strong tournament performances winning in Copenhagen (8/11), fourth place in Vienna (5/9), third place in Cacak (6/9) in 1996, winning in Cienfuegos (5/9) and Yopal (6.5/9) [6] and fourth place at Tilburg in 1997 (7/11) establishing him as a rising star.

Leko analyses with Karpov, Dortmund 1999

Leko continued his rise up the rankings with second place (7/11) behind Viswanathan Anand at Tilburg in 1998, fourth place (5/9) in Dortmund 1998 and fourth place (6.5/14) at Linares in early 1999, culminating in Leko achieving his first super-tournament win (5/7) at Dortmund, half a point ahead of Kramnik. It was at this tournament that he met his future wife Sofia.

He made his first entry into World Championship tournaments at the 1999 FIDE World Championship held in Las Vegas, defeating Christian Bauer 1.5-0.5 but losing to eventual quarter-finalist Sergei Movsesian after rapid tiebreaks 2.5-1.5.

In early 2000, Leko defeated FIDE World Champion Khalifman 4.5-1.5 in Budapest. This was followed by sharing second place (8/13) with Kramnik and Anand at Corus behind a dominant Kasparov, sharing last place (4.5/10) at Linares and sharing second place (5/8) with Kramnik at Dortmund. At the FIDE World Championship held in New Delhi and Tehran, Leko was knocked out in the third round by Khalifman (4.5-3.5) after "sudden death" tiebreaks.

The following year, Leko posted solid results in Corus (6.5/13), Linares (4.5/10), third place in Dortmund (5.5/10) and winning an eight game Fischer Random Chess match against Michael Adams at Mainz.[7] The year was rounded off with an early exit in the second round of the FIDE World Championship, held in Moscow, at the hands of Ashot Anastasia (2.5-1.5) after rapid tiebreaks.

Leko started 2002 solidly with a sixth place finish (7/13) at Corus, sharing third place(4.5/9) in the NAO Masters and second place (7/9) at Essen behind Vadim Zvjaginsev.

Classical World Championship Challenger[edit]

In July 2002 the Dortmund Chess Meeting was held, acting as the Candidates Tournament for the "Classical" World Championship (FIDE hosting its own World Championship via annual 128-player knockout tournaments), held by Vladimir Kramnik. The tournament was held as a two stage event, with two-four player groups played as double round robins, with the two top players from each group moving through to a knockout stage.[8]

Leko qualified comfortably from the B Group in second place to Bareev and faced Alexei Shirov in a four game match. This ended early 2.5-0.5 in Leko's favour. In the final of the Tournament Leko met Veselin Topalov, who had been in good form in the run up to the tournament but had a draining match which had gone to tiebreaks against Bareev in the semi-finals. The match was won by Leko 2.5-1.5, ensuring he became the official challenger to Vladimir Kramnik for the Classical World Chess Championship 2004.[9]

His Candidates triumph was followed up by leading the Hungarian team to team silver in the Bled Chess Olympiad with a board one unbeaten streak along with sharing first (7/12) at Linares in early 2003 with Kramnik, half a point ahead of Anand and Kasparov, notably ending a ten super-tournament winning streak by Kasparov.[10] This was shortly followed up by second place at the 12th Amber Melody tournament (Blind 6/11, Rapid 7.5/11) a point behind Anand, [11] [12] and a solid result (5/9) in Budapest.[13] At Dortmund, Leko disappointed with 4/10, considered to be due to the difficulties regarding the organising of the match with Kramnik.

2004 started brightly for Leko with shared second place (8/13) with Adams in Corus, half a point behind Anand and sharing second place (6.5/12) with Kasparov in Linares, half a point behind Kramnik. He competed as part of an Armenia vs Rest of the World match, scoring 4/6 and finished in fourth place in Dortmund (held in the same format as the Candidates Tournament in 2002 but with play-offs for final positions).[14]

After several delays, the match was held from September 25 to October 18, 2004, in Brissago, Switzerland. Leko led by a point with just one game left to play. Kramnik managed to win the last game, tying the match 7–7 (+2−2=10), which entitled him to remain the reigning "classical" world champion.

In October 2005, Leko played for the FIDE World Chess Championship title in San Luis, Argentina, and was ranked fifth with 6½ points. For more information, see FIDE World Chess Championship 2005.

In May–June 2007 Leko played in the Candidates Tournament for the World Chess Championship 2007. He won his matches against Mikhail Gurevich (+3−0=1) and Evgeny Bareev (+2−0=3), to qualify for the eight-player championship tournament. In the championship he finished fourth out of eight.

Miskolc rapid chess matches[edit]

Each year between 2005 and 2010, Peter Leko played an eight game rapid chess match in the Hungarian city of Miskolc. Each year, he faced a different world-class opponent.

Notable accomplishments[edit]

  • 2008: 1st Dortmund (Cat. 18)
  • 2007: 1st ACP Rapid World Cup
  • 2006: 1st Tal Memorial (Cat 20)
  • 2005: 1st Corus chess tournament

Team chess results[edit]

Leko has represented Hungary at the Chess Olympiad eight times, winning two team silvers and an individual gold, with results as follows:[15][16]

Sample game[edit]

Anand–Leko, 2005
a b c d e f g h
f8 black rook
g8 black king
a7 white rook
b7 black bishop
e7 black rook
g7 black bishop
h7 black pawn
a6 white bishop
d6 black queen
e5 black pawn
b4 white knight
d4 black pawn
f4 black pawn
c3 white pawn
b2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
d1 white queen
f1 white rook
g1 white king
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position after 26.Ba6? Lékó (Black) punishes Anand's erroneous 26th move with a strong combination.

On the way to winning the prestigious Corus chess tournament in 2005, Leko defeated Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand with the black pieces. The moves were:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Nd5 f5 11. c3 Bg7 12. exf5 Bxf5 13. Nc2 0-0 14. Nce3 Be6 15. Bd3 f5 16. 0-0 Ra7 17. a4 Ne7 18. Nxe7+ Rxe7 19. axb5 axb5 20. Bxb5 d5 21. Ra6 f4 22. Nc2 Bc8 23. Ra8 Qd6 24. Nb4 Bb7 25. Ra7 d4 26. Ba6? (see diagram)

Better was 26.Bc6 Bxc6 27.Rxe7 Qxe7 28.Nxc6 with approximate equality.

26... Bxg2! 27. Bc4+ Kh8 28. Ra6 Qc5 29. Kxg2 f3+ 30. Kh1 Qxc4 31. Rc6 Qb5 32. Rd6 e4 33. Rxd4 Bxd4 34. Qxd4+ Qe5 35. Qxe5+ Rxe5 36. Nc2 Rb8 37. Ne3 Rc5 38. h3 Rxb2 39. c4 Rg5 40. Kh2 Kg8 41. h4 Rg6 42. Kh3 Kf7 43. Nf5 Rc2 44. Ne3 Rd2 45. c5 Ke6 46. c6 Rg8 47. c7 Rc8 48. Kg3 Rxc7 49. Kf4 Rd4 50. Ra1 Rf7+ 51. Kg3 Rd8 52. Ra6+ Ke5 53. Ng4+ Kd5 54. Nf6+ Rxf6 55. Rxf6 Ke5 56. Rh6 Rg8+ 57. Kh3 e3 0–1


  1. ^ The Young Lions, Yosef Vatnikov. Accessed 23 August 2014
  2. ^ "I'm not the kind who takes unnecessary risks" Accessed 23 August 2014.
  3. ^ "I'm ready to work towards my goals step by step" Accessed 23 August 2014
  4. ^ Prodigies and mini-grandmasters Chessbase Accessed 23 August 2014
  5. ^ Dortmund 1995 Accessed 24 August 2014
  6. ^ Yopal 1997 Accessed 24 August 2014
  7. ^ Chess Classic Mainz 2001:Fischer Random Chess Accessed 25 August 2014
  8. ^ Dortmund hosts world championship qualifier Chessbase Accessed 29 August 2014
  9. ^ Leko is Kramnik's challenger Sportstar Accessed 30 August 2014
  10. ^ Kramnik-Leko Anand Kasparov Draw, Leko Takes Title Chessbase Accessed 30 August 2014
  11. ^ Anand wins the 12th Amber tournament Chessbase Accessed 30 August 2014
  12. ^ Amber 2003 Chess.GR Accessed 30 August 2014
  13. ^ Nigel Short, new Hungarian champion? Chessbase Accessed 30 August 2014
  14. ^ Dortmund concludes:Vishy Anand Victorious Chessbase Accessed 30 August 2014
  15. ^ Mens Chess Olympiads - Peter Leko, Accessed 20 August 2014.
  16. ^ Mens Olympiad 2014 - Hungary, Accessed 20 August 2014.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Judit Polgár
Youngest chess grandmaster ever
Succeeded by
Étienne Bacrot