Peter Leko is a Chess Grandmaster from Hungary with Elo ratings exceeding 2600 from FIDE, making him one of the best Hungarian chess players of all time.
Last Updated: August 12, 2022
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Full name: Peter Leko
Title: Grandmaster (1994)
International Master (1991)
Place of birth: Subotica, Vojvodina, SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia
Born: September 8, 1979
World ranking: 95
Peak rating: 2763 (April 2005)
Peak rating No: 4 (April 2003)
Peter Leko is a Hungarian chess Grandmaster, born on September 8th, 1979 in Subotica, Vojvodina, SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia. He relocated to Szeged when he was one year old. Leko’s father taught him chess briefly before he attained 7 years old, and he began competing in major championships at the age of nine. Tibor Károlyi, his first trainer, began working with him in 1989 and ended three months before Leko became a grandmaster. They afterwards teamed up in 1998 and remained together until the last day of 2000. When Leko was 10 years old, he also partnered with International Master Gaspar Mathe. Leko is the husband of Sofia Petrosian, the daughter of Arshak Petrosian, an Armenian grandmaster who also serves as his coach.
Leko made a breakthrough as a young player when competed in the World Youth Chess Tournament as a junior player, bagging bronze in the U10 category in 1989, bronze in the U12 category in 1990, 4th position in the U14 category in 1992, silver in the U14 category in 1993, and a gold medal in the U16 category in 1994. In 1992, Leko was named International Master. In 1994, at the age of 14 years, 4 months, and 22 days, he became the youngest Grandmaster in history, surpassing Judit Polgár’s old best. His norms did come in 1993 at a First Saturday tournament in Budapest and Leon split 3rd spot with Anatoly Karpov and Veselin Topalov, and in 1994 at Hoogovens.
Furthermore, Leko demonstrated his class by attaining victory in Copenhagen in 1995, scoring 8/11 points. Eventually, Leko participated in Dortmund, where he tied for 3rd spot scoring 5 points out of 9 with Vassily Ivanchuk, confirming his current global ranking of 55th with 2605 Elo. In Belgrade, a final-round defeat to Ivanchuk dropped him to 8th place. He finished last in Dortmund in 1996 but came back to finish 4th in Vienna scoring 5 points out of 9. Leko triumphed in Cienfuegos and Yopal scoring 6.5 points out of 9 in 1997 and placed 4th at the traditional Tilburg championship scoring 7 points out of 11 making him a key player, moving to 16th in the global ranking in January 1998.
At the 1999 FIDE World Chess Tournament in Las Vegas, he made his first appearance in a World Championship tournament, trouncing Christian Bauer 1.5-0.5 however being defeated by subsequent Sergei Movsesian who reached the quarter-finals after rapid seedings 2.5-11.5. Leko encountered the victor, FIDE Title Holder Alexander Khalifman, in a 6-tournament game in Budapest in January 2000, in which he earned 4.5-1.5 points. Leko emerged victorious 2.5-11.5, establishing himself as the actual contender to Vladimir Kramnik for the 2004 Classical World Chess Championship.
His Candidates victory was preceded by an unchallenged run when captaining the Hungarian team on the first board to team silver in the 35th Chess Olympiad, as well as sharing 1st place at Linares with a score of 7 points out of 12 games in 2003 with Kramnik, a 0.5-point advantage lead of Anand and Kasparov, noticeably stopping Kasparov’s ten super-tournament winning streak. It was quickly preceded by a 2nd place finish a point behind Anand, and a resounding performance of 5 points out of 9 games in Budapest.
In 2008, Leko shared 5th position in a competitive field at Corus with a score of 7 points out of 13 games, but shared the last position in Morelia-Linares with 5.5 points out of 14 games, and dropped a Miskolc Rapid match 3.5-4.5 against Magnus Carlsen, however, he bounced back four months later with his 3rd success at Dortmund after 1999 & 2002 with a score of 4.5 points in 7 games, sixth place with a result of 4.5 points out of 9 games in a competitive field at the Tal Memorial, and winning solo gold on first board at the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden.
His most notable achievements include;
- Won the gold medal at the U16 World Chess Championship in 1994, Silver at the U14 World Chess Championship in 1993, bronze at the U10 in 1989, and, at the U14 in 1990 and 1992.
- Won the International Tournaments in Havana and Yapolo in 1997
- Won in the 1st FIDE Grandprix Rapid Chess Tournament of Dubai in 2002and also the Dortmund Braingames Candidates Tournament.
- Undefeated on board one upon competing for the Hungarian Chess team helping them win a silver medal in 2002.
- Won a gold medal for outstanding results on the first board in the 2008 chess olympiad.
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