Peter Leko

Posted on

Peter Leko was born on September 8, 1979 in Szabadka. He has been living in Szeged since the age of one, where he was awarded honorary citizenship in 2005 by the City Assembly. He has been playing chess since the age of seven. In 1994, he became grandmaster and U16 World Chess Champion breaking herewith Fischer’s record. He first appeared in the Hungarian national team at the Moscow Chess Olympiad in 1994.

As a frequently invited participant of the strongest tournaments he moved forward rapidly on the world ranking list. He won the tournaments in Copenhagen, Havana and Yopal in 1995. In 1997, he came third in Tilburg and Madrid, in 1998 finished second in Tilburg. In 1999, he won the Category 19 Dortmund event leaving Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, Michael Adams and Anatoly Karpov behind.

He was the top-board player of the Hungarian Team in the European Championship in Baku where they won silver after 14 unsuccessful years. The start of the following year was also great for him. In Budapest he defeated Alexander Khalifman, the FIDE World Champion title-holder by 4,5-1,5 on a six-game match sponsored by WFG. In January 2001, he played a rapid match of twelve games against Vladimir Kramnik. The World Champion was only able to win by a very tight 7-5.

From that time on Peter has had a new coach. With Arshak Petrosian a new age has begun to our grandmaster. In the year 2002, he achieved several successes. He won the Dubai Grand Prix, came second in Essen and gained a very significant triumph by winning the World Championship Candidate’s Tournament becoming Kramnik’s challenger officially, too. At the Olympiad in Bled he was the undefeated top-board player of the silver-medalist Hungarian team.

Lékó started the year 2003 also superbly. The trade press was enthusiastic about his triumph in Linares. The different problems in connection with the World Championship affected his performance negatively, but from January 2004 he has been back on track again. In Wijk aan Zee he finished unbeaten behind Vishy Anand and came second tied with Adams. In Linares he has been quite long on the top, finished second tied with Kasparov. In the Petrosian Memorial in Moscow, as a guest player of the Armenian national team, he showed the best individual performance. Brissagó8 In the World Championship final in Brissago, he managed to come back after a false start. After losing the first game he was able to equalize in the fifth, moreover he took the lead in the eighth by a superb win. Only a half point was needed to win the crown but the experienced opponent mustered all his strength and in a dramatic fight won the last game and with 7-7 results defended his title.

In January 2005, Peter Lékó won unbeaten in Wijk aan Zee so he can be proud of being able to win every remarkable chess tournament. He drew Adams by a great finish in Miskolc. In the FIDE World Championship in San Luis he had to settle for the fifth place. The first half oh the traditional Linares Tournament has exceptionally been organized in Morelia, he concluded the Mexican half unbeaten, with a half point advantage. In Linares with losing his last two games he finished only fourth. In Dortmund missed the first place again, this time he suffered a bitter defeat in the last round against Kramnik.

In the course of the rapid duel fought by Péter Lékó and the twelfth World Champion of chess, Anatoly Karpov in the new shrine of chess, the National Theater of Miskolc, very interesting games could be observed by the competent audience. Our Grand Master claimed a 4,5-3,5 victory with a triumph in the third game, the other parties were concluded with draws full of struggle. 4 Lékó concluded the year 2006 with a brilliant triumph in the Category 20 Tal Memorial organized in the Central Chess Club, Moscow. Our Grand Master finished with 5,5 points and won the event in a dead-heat of 3. Péter Leko made a good start in the year 2007, as well. He won the rapid World Cup of sixteen players in Odessa – in the final he defeated Vasily Ivanchuk of the Ukraine. His following match took place in Miskolc, against the Russian World Champion, Vladimir Kramnik. The games, which were also very interesting as far as the opening theory is concerned, were followed by an enormous crowd at the National Theatre in Miskolc. The fight of equal forces was won at the end by Kramnik 4,5-3,5.

Péter Lékó showed a superb performance at the Candidates’ Tournament in Elista. Against the Turkish Mihail Gurevich four games were enough for him to get through. Our GM took an assertive triumph against Evgeny Bareev and could play in the world championship final. In Dortmund, at the traditional Sparkassen Chess-Meeting super tournament Lékó finished second in dead-heat. In the World Championship organized in Mexico City our GM came fourth with a performance of 50 %. His rapid duel against Ivanchuk in Munkács ended up in a 6-6 draw. He tied for the third place at the 2nd Tal Memorial Tournament in Moscow. In the Corus 2008 event he shared the fifth place with Ivanchuk.

Showing an improving performance he came second together with Kramnik, Topalov and Carlsen at the Amber Tournament in Nice. In framework of the series of rapid match-tournaments in Miskolc, Peter Leko played his fourth duel against the 17-year-old Norwegian pretender, Magnus Carlson where he underutilized his chances and suffered a 5-3 defeat. In Yerevan, at the Karen Asrian Memorial Tournament he finished second. In his favorite city, Dortmund, he prevailed for the third time. Lékó was one of Kramnik’s second during the world championship final against Anand. At the Dresden Olympiad he showed a brilliant individual performance as being the best top-board player.


As the highlight of the Lékó& … series, the reigning world Champion, Viswanathan Anand visited Miskolc in 2009. On the course of the duel, Anand proved that his is worth calling the King of the Chess. With six draws and two wins he scored a victory of 5-3. In 2009, in Dortmund Peter Leko tied for the second and played in the Grand Prix series, as well. He performed his best in Nalchik, where he was second in dead heat. In aggregate he finished 7th.

After representing Hungary in the 39th Chess Olympiad in September he took several months away from chess. He made his return to chess at the World Team Chess Championship held in Ningbo, China in July 2011 with an undefeated 5.5/9 on board 1. This was followed up by a shock first round exit from the Chess World Cup 2011 against Sam Shankland and a third-place finish at the Saratov Governor’s Cup. The year was rounded off with 5.5/9 at the European Team Championships held in Halkidiki, Greece. Hungary finished in the briliant third place.

In 2012, Leko came second with 5/7 at Sigeman & Co Tournament, half a point behind Fabiano Caruana. At Dortmund, Leko shared third place with Kramnik, Naiditsch and Ponomariov, narrowly missed a win against tournament winner Caruana. In September 2012 he entered the FIDE Grand Prix 2012-13 as a nominee of AGON, who owned the rights to the World Championship cycle. Having completed his four tournaments in the cycle Leko finished the Grand Prix cycle in 13th place. He placed a strong fifth place at the Tata Steel Chess event in January 2013 with 7.5/13. In July, shared third at Dortmund with Naiditsch. In August 2013, Leko was knocked out of the FIDE World Cup 2013 in the second round 0.5-1.5 by Julio Granda.


Leko finished the year at the World Mind Games with tied first in the Rapid section. In April 2014, Leko played in the Russian Team Championships for Malachite scoring 5/7, in July tied for second at Dortmund with Georg Meier and contributed to a team silver medal at the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromsö. Leko won two team silver medals and an individual gold medal representing Hungary at eight Chess Olympiads, two times the team was fourth (2000, 2010). Leko won silver in 1999 and bronze medal in 2011 in the European Team Championship. His highest FIDE world ranking was number four, first achieved in April 2003. He is ranked 33th in the valid world ranking list of 1 August, 2015 with 2714 ELO-points.

Péter Lékó’s most important triumphs:

1995 Copenhagen
1997 Havana, Yopal
1999 Dortmund
2002 Dubai (rapid)
2002 Dortmund tournament of world champion candidates
2003 Linares
2005 Wijk aan Zee
2006 Moscow
2007 Odessa (ACP Rapid World Cup)
2008 Dortmund