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Peter Leko

Peter Leko

  • Born:
    Sep 8, 1979 (Age 44) Szabadka, Hungary
  • FIDE Title:
  • FIDE ID:
  • Federation:
  • Peak Rating:
    2763 (April 2005)
  • Rating:
    2666 (October 2023)
  • Rank:
    80 (October 2023)

Peter with his wife Sophie, who is the daughter of Armenian GM Arshak Petrosian, at the 2008 Corus Tournament in Wijk ann Zee | photo: Macauley Peterson

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 suffered 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 gained 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.

Leko first played for Hungary in the World Chess Olympiad as a 15-year-old in 1994 and went on to help his country to silver medals in 2002 and 2014.

In recent years he's been active as a chess commentator as well as a coach of German prodigy Vincent Keymer, who stunned the chess world in 2018 as a 13-year-old by winning the GRENKE Chess Open ahead of almost 800 players.    

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Comments 5

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  • Aug 5, 2022 | 12:35 PM


  • Jun 15, 2022 | 1:47 AM

    "Peter Leko" -- What a name! LOL 

  • Aug 21, 2020 | 11:40 AM

    Brilliant real-time commentary on the Carlsen Chess Tour Finals! Thank you Peter.

  • Jun 1, 2020 | 12:55 PM

    Brilliant player and perhaps even more brilliant commentator - would love to see a Leko & Hess combo covering the next World Championship match... simply the best!

  • Oct 2, 2019 | 11:48 PM

    Excellent chest player and decent man.

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