Peter Leko set a record for the youngest grandmaster ever when he gained the title in 1994 aged 14 years, 4 months and 22 days. Supertournament invitations followed, and his 3rd place at the prestigious Dortmund tournament in 1995 made it clear he was going to be a fixture among the elite. In 1999 he won the same tournament ahead of Vladmir Kramnik, Anatoly Karpov and Viswanathan Anand, and in 2002 he won the Candidates Tournament there to qualify for a World Championship match against Kramnik. Their match was finally played in 2004, and Leko will perhaps always be haunted by how close he came to the title – going into the 14th and final game he was leading and needed only a draw, but Kramnik won to hold onto his crown.
Following that match the Hungarian grandmaster
scored one of his best results to finish clear first ahead of Kramnik, Anand
and Veselin Topalov in Wijk aan Zee 2005, and his other top tournament
victories include Linares (2003) and the Tal Memorial (2006), but he’s never
since come close to the title. He also suffers from an image problem – perhaps
because of the self-preservation instincts of a youth thrown into the supergrandmaster
bear pit, or simply because of his preferred positional style of play, he has a
reputation for drawing too many games. A real crisis ensued in 2009-10, when he
began to alternate draws mainly with losses. After finishing bottom in Dortmund
2010 he took a nine-month break from chess, but has since returned and
continues to be a formidable opponent.
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