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Photo copyright © 2006 by Milan Kovacs (  
Peter Leko
Number of games in database: 2,117
Years covered: 1989 to 2015
Last FIDE rating: 2705 (2692 rapid, 2697 blitz)
Highest rating achieved in database: 2763
Overall record: +343 -191 =909 (55.3%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      674 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (379) 
    B90 B33 B42 B32 B44
 Ruy Lopez (225) 
    C78 C67 C89 C92 C88
 Sicilian Najdorf (129) 
    B90 B93 B91 B96 B92
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (108) 
    C89 C92 C88 C95 C99
 French Defense (104) 
    C11 C18 C16 C10 C12
 Caro-Kann (69) 
    B17 B18 B12 B19 B10
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (182) 
    B33 B30 B31 B65 B56
 Queen's Indian (128) 
    E15 E12 E14
 Ruy Lopez (126) 
    C89 C84 C65 C88 C78
 Grunfeld (100) 
    D85 D97 D91 D79 D82
 English, 1 c4 c5 (84) 
    A30 A33 A35 A37 A34
 Nimzo Indian (76) 
    E32 E53 E20 E55 E21
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Kramnik vs Leko, 2004 0-1
   Leko vs Kramnik, 2004 1/2-1/2
   Leko vs Kramnik, 2004 1-0
   Anand vs Leko, 2005 0-1
   Leko vs Radjabov, 2006 1-0
   Leko vs Radjabov, 2003 1-0
   Leko vs Kasparov, 2003 1/2-1/2
   Leko vs L Bruzon Batista, 2005 1-0
   Leko vs Kramnik, 1995 1-0
   Leko vs W Heckel, 1989 1-0

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: [what is this?]
   FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2001)
   Kramnik - Leko World Championship Match (2004)
   FIDE World Championship Tournament (2005)
   FIDE World Championship Tournament (2007)

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Yopal (1997)
   Candidates Match: Leko - Gurevich (2007)
   XX Ciudad de Linares (2003)
   Corus (2005)
   4th FIDE Grand Prix (2009)
   Leko & Adams (2005)
   Corus (2000)
   Amber Blindfold (2006)
   Linares 2006 (2006)
   Tilburg Fontys (1996)
   Tilburg Fontys (1997)
   Tata Steel (2013)
   Cap D'Agde FRA (2003)
   Olympiad (2008)
   Russian Team Championships (2012)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Match Leko! by amadeus
   Exchange sacs - 1 by obrit
   Leko! by larrewl
   2001-2007, 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 or 5.Nbd2, Rated 2700+ by cybermarauder
   maestro37's favorite games C89 Marshall by maestro37
   Lékó vs. Carlsen by Method B
   Kramnik - Leko WCC Brissago,2004 by excmo
   Fide 2007 world cup by King mega

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Peter Leko
Search Google for Peter Leko
FIDE player card for Peter Leko

(born Sep-08-1979, 36 years old) Hungary
[what is this?]
International Master (1992); Grandmaster (1994); U16 World Champion 1996; Candidate 2002 (PCA) and 2007; Classical World Championship Challenger (2004).


Péter Lékó was born in Subotica in Northern Serbia. When he became a grandmaster in 1994 at the age of 14 years 4 months and 22 days, he was the youngest person ever to have become a grandmaster (GM), and the first under 15, eclipsing the records previously set by Robert James Fischer in 1958 and then by Judit Polgar in 1991. In 1996 he won the World U16 Championship. Eight years later in 2004, he contested the Classical World Championship against the incumbent Vladimir Kramnik. He has been a regular participant in the World Championship cycle and in major tournaments since he was 15.

Classical Tournaments:

Lékó’s first encounter as a participant in a super tournament occurred as a 15 year old in 1995, when he created a minor sensation by placing 3rd at the category 17 Dortmund event. Between 1995 and 1997, he capitalised on his success and started building his reputation by winning several GM tournaments in Denmark, Cuba and Columbia (Yopal (1997)). In 1998 he came in second behind Viswanathan Anand at the category 18 Tilburg Fontys (1998). Lékó’s first super tournament victory came at the category 19 tourney at Dortmund in 1999. The following year, he placed =2nd with 8/13, a point and a half behind Garry Kasparov at the category 18 Corus (2000), and =3rd behind Kasparov and Kramnik at the category 21 Linares (2000). His form continued into 2001 when he came 3rd at Dortmund, a category 21 event that year, and then into 2002 when he took 2nd place at the category 17 Essen quadrangular, =3rd behind Veselin Topalov and Boris Gelfand at the category 18 NAO Masters in Cannes, and 2nd at the category 16 Borowski tournament behind Vadim Zvjaginsev, also winning that year’s edition of Dortmund, which doubled as a Candidates tournament to select a challenger for Classical World Champion Kramnik. He maintained his good form into 2003 and onwards to the extent that won the Category 20 Linares ahead of Kramnik and Kasparov, placed 3rd behind Nigel Short and Judit Polgar at the Category 17 “Talent and Courage” GM tournament in Hungary, and placed 2nd in the 2004 edition of Linares (also category 20).

Shortly after his near-miss at winning the World Championship match against Kramnik (see below), Lékó came 2nd at the category 19 Corus (2004) behind Anand and then won the Corus (2005) ahead of Anand, Topalov and Kramnik. Lékó thus became the fifth player to win what were then the "big three" annual super tournaments, namely Corus, Linares, and Dortmund. In 2004, he also won the Petrosian Memorial Tournament with 4/6 ahead of Peter Svidler on tiebreak, and half a point ahead of Kasparov, Anand, Etienne Bacrot and Rafael Vaganian. He experienced something of a hiatus in terms of results until 2006, when he won the 1st Tal Memorial (2006). In 2007, he placed =2nd behind Kramnik, while in 2008, he again won at Dortmund, and then came 2nd at Dortmund (2009). There followed a longer hiatus in leader board results, broken only by a medals winning performance at the Russian Team Championships (see below) and 2nd place in the 20th Sigeman & Co Chess Tournament (2012) behind Fabiano Caruana and =3rd at Dortmund (2012), a half point behind Sergey Karjakin and Caruana. More recently he placed 5th at the category 20 Tata Steel (2013), =3rd at the category 19 Dortmund (2013) and =2nd at Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting (2014).

World Championship:

Lékó’s good form in tournaments did not carry over into his early assaults on the FIDE World Championship. The 19-year old was seeded directly into round two of the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (1999) that was staged in Las Vegas. He won his first match against Christian Bauer, but lost in the 3rd round to Sergei Movsesian. His next attempt was a repeat of the first. Seeded directly into the 2nd round of the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2000) played in New Delhi and Tehran, Lékó defeated Sergey Volkov, but then lost in an extended tiebreaker to defending FIDE World Champion, Alexander Khalifman. He also lasted the first two rounds of the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2001) played in Moscow, losing to then-six time Armenian champion, Ashot Anastasian, in the second round.

Under the terms of the "Prague Agreement" facilitated by Yasser Seirawan, and intended to unite the two World Chess Championships that had split in 1993, Leko's 2002 win at Dortmund qualified him to play a match against Vladimir Kramnik. It was intended that the winner of this match would play the winner of a match between Kasparov and the FIDE World Chess Champion (first Ruslan Ponomariov, then Rustam Kasimdzhanov) to decide the undisputed world champion. After several delays, the Kramnik - Leko World Championship Match (2004) was held from September 25-October 18, 2004 in Brissago, Switzerland. Lékó came extremely close to becoming Hungary's first World Champion. Leading by one point going into the fourteenth and final game, he was beaten by Kramnik who thereby tied the match 7-7 and retained his title.

In October 2005, Lékó was invited by reason of his Classical World Championship match with Kramnik in 2004 to play in the FIDE World Championship Tournament (2005) in San Luis, Argentina. He accepted the invitation but only placed fifth out of a field of eight with 6˝/14 points. However, this was sufficient for him to qualify for the 2007 Candidates Tournament to determine the final four qualifiers to the FIDE World Championship Tournament (2007). At the Candidates matches, he won the Candidates Match: Leko - Gurevich (2007) (+3−0=1) and the Candidates Match: Bareev - Leko (2007) (+2−0=3), to qualify for the eight-player championship tournament in Mexico City, where he finished fourth out of eight.

Lékó placed 7th in the 2008-2009 Grand Prix series, and as he did not compete in the World Cup (2009), he did not qualify for the Candidates tournament of matches that were eventually held in Kazan in 2011. There followed a disastrous result at the World Cup (2011), when he was eliminated in the first round – and from the 2013 World Championship cycle - by the young US GM Samuel Shankland. His 2014 campaign for the World Championship started modestly at the FIDE Grand Prix London (2012) when he placed outright 5th with 6/11, starting his GP points tally with 80 points. In his remaining Grand Prix events, the FIDE Grand Prix Tashkent (2012), the FIDE Grand Prix Zug (2013) and the FIDE Grand Prix Beijing (2013), he scored totals of 5.5/11 (+1 -1 =9) (7th place), 5/11 (+0 -1 =10) (=7th place) and 6/11 (+1 =10) (=3rd place), adding a total of 200 GP points to make a best-of-3-event total of 230, ending his chances to finish in the top 2 and thereby qualify for the 2014 Candidates Tournament. He had a chance to qualify for the Candidates via the World Cup (2013) for which he qualified by reason of his rating; he defeated Norwegian GM Leif Erlend Johannessen in the first round but in one of the shocks of the round, he lost to Peruvian #1 Julio Ernesto Granda Zuniga in the second round.

For the 2016 World Championship cycle, Lékó qualified for the World Cup (2015) through his rating. He defeated Alexey Goganov and Wen Yang in the first two rounds but lost to Anish Giri in the third round to be eliminated from the Cup.

Other Matches:

<Classical>: In 2000, he defeated Alexander Khalifman in match play in Budapest by 4.5-1.5. In 2015, he lost the Leko - Li Chao (2015) match by 2-4.

<Fischer Random Chess>: In 2001, Lékó narrowly defeated Michael Adams in an eight-game match played as part of the Mainz Chess Classic.

<Rapid>: From 2005 until 2010, Péter Lékó has played a rapid chess match in the Hungarian city of Miskolc:

• In 2005, he drew Leko & Adams (2005) 4–4

• In 2006, he won the Leko - Karpov Match (2006) 4˝–3˝

• In 2007, he lost the Leko - Kramnik Rapid Match (2007) 3˝–4˝. In 2007 he also played the Ivanchuk - Leko Rapid Match (2007) losing by 6˝-7˝, and then lost the rematch, the Ivanchuk - Leko Match (2009), by 2˝-3˝.

• In 2008, he lost the Carlsen - Leko Rapid Match (2008) 3–5

• In 2009, he lost the Leko - Anand Rapid Match (2009) 3–5 and

• In 2010, he lost the Leko - Gelfand Match (2010) 3˝–4˝


Lékó was somewhat more successful in rapid tournaments. In 1999, he won the Rapid Grand Prix in Bordeaux (France) and two years later (in 2001), he won the Rapid Master Event in Nordhorn. In 2002, he won the Rapid Grand Prix in Dubai and managed to place 3rd at Monaco 2002. In 2007, he took first place at the ACP Rapid (2007) and =2nd at the 16th Amber Tournament (Rapid) (2007). In 2008, he was =3rd at the Amber Tournament (Rapid) (2008) and =5th, a half point behind the four joint leaders, at the Amber Tournament (Blindfold) (2008). In June 2013, he placed =3rd behind Karjakin and Topalov at the Sberbank Rapid Open 2013 held in Ukraine. In December 2013, he was =1st alongside Wang Yue at the SportAccord World Mind Games (Men, Rapid) (2013) with 5/7.

Team Events:

<Olympiads>: He represented Hungary in the Olympiads of 1994, 1996, 2000, Bled Olympiad (2002), Olympiad (2008), Chess Olympiad (2010), Chess Olympiad (2012) and Chess Olympiad (2014), winning team silver in 2002 and 2014 and individual gold for board 1 in 2008.

<World Team Championship>: Lékó represented Hungary at the World Team Championships in 2001 and at the World Chess Team Championship (2011), both times on board 1. On the latter occasion he won individual bronze.

<European Team Championships>: He represented the Hungary 3 team on board 4 in the European Team Championships in 1992, when he was a 13 year old FM, posting a modest +3 =4 -2 result. He again played for Hungary in 1999, this time on board 1 and won team and individual silver. There followed a long absence from the competition until the European Team Championship (2011) when he lead his national team from board 1 to team bronze.

<European Club Cup>: Lékó played for Honved Budapest from 1995 until 1997, winning team silver in his inaugural year in the competition. Lékó’s absence from the ECC since then was also notable for its length as he did not resume until 2012 when he was recruited to play board 3 for DhSM-64 Moscow, winning team bronze. In 2013 he played board 2 for Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk, which placed 6th, (1) while in the European Club Cup (2014) he played board 3 for Malakhit Ekaterinburg, helping his team to a bronze medal. (2)

<Other Team Competition>: He played board 3 for the Rest of the World in the Russia - The Rest of the World (2002), helping his team defeat Russia with a personal performance of +2 =7 -1. Lékó also played with his ShSM-64 Moscow team in the Russian Team Championships (2012) on board 3, winning individual silver and team bronze. Playing for Malachite in the Russian Team Championships (2014), he won individual silver for board 3 and helped his team to win the gold medal.


Lékó entered the top 100 in July 1995 and has remained in the top 100 since. He has been ranked as high as fourth on the FIDE World Rating List, that ranking first being achieved in April 2003 and from April to December 2005, when he also reached his peak rating of 2763 (April-September 2005). He was in the world’s top 10 for most of the decade from January 2000 until November 2009 and has been rated over 2700 since July 1999.


Peter Lékó married Sofya Petrosyan on September 2nd 2000 and is the son-in-law of Armenian grandmaster Arshak B Petrosian. He is currently living in Szeged in Hungary. His hobbies are football, tennis, bowling and music.


Live rating list: Wikipedia article: Peter Leko Lékó’s official website:

(1); (2)

Last updated 18 September 2015

 page 1 of 85; games 1-25 of 2,117  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Leko vs U Jahr  0-150 1989 NurembergC07 French, Tarrasch
2. Leko vs A Rotstein 0-143 1989 WerfenB26 Sicilian, Closed, 6.Be3
3. D Seyb vs Leko  ½-½31 1989 NurembergB22 Sicilian, Alapin
4. Leko vs W Heckel 1-025 1989 NurembergB40 Sicilian
5. Leko vs A Labarthe 1-041 1990 ParisB01 Scandinavian
6. Leko vs W Von Alvensleben  1-034 1990 Budapest Spring opB12 Caro-Kann Defense
7. S Gorgievski vs Leko 0-150 1990 ParisA07 King's Indian Attack
8. G Koschka vs Leko 0-154 1990 Nuernberg op 7-36B57 Sicilian
9. Leko vs S H Grunberg 0-141 1990 Budapest Spring opB02 Alekhine's Defense
10. Leko vs A Alawieh 0-159 1990 ParisC41 Philidor Defense
11. Leko vs W Wirth  ½-½41 1990 Nuernberg op 6-37B86 Sicilian, Fischer-Sozin Attack
12. Leko vs Leitao 1-020 1990 WisconsinB02 Alekhine's Defense
13. Leko vs T Souche 1-040 1990 ParisC44 King's Pawn Game
14. M Gretzer vs Leko 0-124 1990 Nuernberg op 5-55D85 Grunfeld
15. Leko vs K Pytel  0-134 1990 St IngbertB10 Caro-Kann
16. T Brionne vs Leko  0-127 1990 ParisD87 Grunfeld, Exchange
17. B Kusic vs Leko 1-074 1990 Nuernberg op 1-21D94 Grunfeld
18. Leko vs M Meiser  1-030 1990 St IngbertB07 Pirc
19. Leko vs M Tratar  1-040 1991 KecskemetB82 Sicilian, Scheveningen
20. Schirov vs Leko 1-037 1991 LondonD80 Grunfeld
21. Leko vs Y Hadas  ½-½32 1991 ?B90 Sicilian, Najdorf
22. G Steffens vs Leko  ½-½24 1991 NettetalD85 Grunfeld
23. M Schaefer vs Leko  1-023 1991 Dortmund-DB56 Sicilian
24. Leko vs M Hoffmann  ½-½15 1991 Dortmund-DB10 Caro-Kann
25. Leko vs P Backwinkel 1-039 1991 NettetalB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
 page 1 of 85; games 1-25 of 2,117  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Leko wins | Leko loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 98 OF 98 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: The book came out in 2003...

Jan-23-15  Kain3: Out of the top-30, and sliding downwards. He won't get many invitations to the super level anymore, so he has to go back to lesser rated tournaments and start to work seriously on his chess. Adams had to do something similar and came back a lot stronger, Gelfand did this multiple times. This "slide" might just be what Leko needs..
Premium Chessgames Member
  Caissanist: His slide has lasted more than five years now, so I would expect it to be more or less permanent. He's already older than the vast majority of players above him. Time is crueler than ever to top players nowadays--or perhaps kinder, since he still has time to go out and get a regular job.
Feb-13-15  The Rocket: <If he'd been busting a gut and failed, that would be more demoralizing.>

Leko was a draw away in the final game from being the new world champion. If you don't concider this demoralizing, I don't know what is.

Feb-13-15  Petrosianic: It wasn't just the last game, he'd been coasting almost half the match. He agreed to a draw in Game 12 in a position he should have tried to keep winning, and blew off a White in Game 11by agreeing to a quick draw. You can't coast with a 1 point lead when the other guy has draw odds.

Now, Kramnik on the other hand, the guy who too often does coast, did bust a gut to equalize the score. Not only in Game 14, but he made a major effort with Black in Game 13, that came within an inch of succeeding.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Shams: <Petrosianic> <You can't coast with a 1 point lead when the other guy has draw odds.>

"You don't dance with the champ."

Feb-13-15  The Rocket: <It wasn't just the last game, he'd been coasting almost half the match. He agreed to a draw in Game 12 in a position he should have tried to keep winning, and blew off a White in Game 11by agreeing to a quick draw. You can't coast with a 1 point lead when the other guy has draw odds.>

He was in the <lead>. This is far too common. Doesn't mean he didn't care. What you seem to suggest is beyond comprehension I can assure you Kramnik broke his spirit by winning the final game which would have given leko the titel.

Mar-12-15  cplyakap: He has +1 score against Carlsen. :D
Mar-12-15  Kain3: <He has +1 score against Carlsen.>

Also +1 against Grischuk, and +3(!) against Caruana. He's tied with Nakamura.

The inner talent is definitely there, but something needs to change (his style & his coach) for him to be able to fight back to the "world's elite" status.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <The problem is that nowadays, with so much information flying around, it is almost impossible to remember anything you saw just a week ago, never mind three years ago!> - Peter Leko.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Sometimes it seems that Leko doesn't really like playing chess so much as striving to analyse opening positions. Probably his ideal would be to take his analyses if not to bare kings, then at least to positions from the Nalimov database. When Peter manages to use a novelty as Black that instantly kills all life on the board, he becomes happy like a child and calls this kind of game 'magnificent'> - Ilya Levitov and Evgeny Bareev in “From London to Elista.”
Premium Chessgames Member
  cro777: As part of his preparations for the World Cup, Leko plays a 6-game match against Li Chao in Szeged, Hungary from 14-20 August 2015.

Peter Leko: "Li Chao represents a completely different style than the other Chinese chess players. It is important that before the World Cup one can meet players of different styles."

The first game starts on Friday (August 14th) at 15:00 local time. (On August 17 will be rest day).

Sep-17-15  Sacsacmate: Carlsen tweeted that he is looking forward to Giri - Leko next round...#9draws
Jan-15-16  Hawkman: < Leko said in conclusion: "It was a very hard fight. In the end, it was not enough for me to win the title. I'm disappointed, but I'm looking forward to the future. I'm 25 years old, and I hope to get a new chance to become world champion." >

What happened?

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: He is not the first player to be at his peak for a short time.

Andrei Sokolov was not as good as Leko but he was rated 3rd in the world at one point in the late 80s and made it to the Candidates Finals Matches where he was defeated by Karpov. Never came close to that level again. Not that easy for many players to maintain their edge.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <plang> Which points up the greatness of such titans as Keres, who never sat down opposite the world champion in a match, and Korchnoi, who did so twice.

Some posters have denigrated no less than the likes of Smyslov and Tal for holding the crown for merely one year, but Smyslov was no one-off: twice running the victor in gruelling Candidates events, while Tal had a meteoric run to reach the pinnacle, perhaps playing better than ever later on, well after his bouts with Botvinnik.

Jan-16-16  Jim Bartle: "Inside Chess" commented several times when Leko was 16 to 19 years old that his playing style was just so conservative, with little inventiveness or risk-taking, and that it wasn't good for developing into a great player as an adult.

Seirawan also pointed out numerous examples of players sacrificing a piece for an attack against him, and it never succeeded. Leko's defense was just too good.

Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: Korchnoi compared the young Leko to the young Karpov with Karpov being the tougher player.
Jan-16-16  Howard: Andrei Sokolov was ranked #3 on the January 1, 1987 FIDE list...

...then he played Karpov in the Candidates super-final around March, 1987, and he was blown off the board...

...and he quickly tumbled out of the world's top-10, never to get there again.

Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: yes, the match with Karpov may have had broken Sokolov more than Leko in his match with Kramnik.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <john b> Many may not be wild about Karpov's style, but the man had plenty of sand packed in that small frame; his tournament record while champion speaks for itself.
Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: <perfidious> Karpov is one of my heroes.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Caissanist: Wrt "what happened" to keep him from returning to the world championship level after playing his first match at 25, let me trot back out the same thing I've been reposting for nine years, which still seems right to me:

<He's always had the skills that are more typical of an older player, so in hindsight it's maybe not surprising that he hasn't been able to improve since 2002, and now may even be in decline. He was 33 when he was 23.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Caissanist> Your post on Leko reminds me of baseball players who have possessed what writer and sabermetrician Bill James referred to, more than once, as old player's skills.

Of course, the peak in baseball is generally considered to be substantially earlier than that of the chess player (27 is generally accepted, due in large part to James' research, vis-ŕ-vis ~35 in chess).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Caissanist: Perceptive man! I actually lifted my last sentence verbatim from an old piece of James writing, or at least from my memory of it.

From what I can tell, chess players don't really reach their peak much later than baseball players, at least not anymore, although they are capable of staying at their peak for much longer. Anand, of course, became world champion in his forties, but he was already #2 in his twenties, so it was more about him inheriting the mantle than getting better. I can't think of any other current top player who didn't reach his top ranking by age 30.

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