Young Indian International Master Leon Luke Mendonca earned his maiden Grandmaster norm after winning the title in Rigochess International Festival tournament in Hungary. The 14-year old Mendonca won six games, drew two and lost one to emerge winner in the 10-player field which included three GMs and was played over the board. He secured seven points from nine rounds in the tournament.
The Goa-based player (Elo 2499) won his opening round match against fellow IM William Paschall before going down to lower-rated Alex Krstulovic (Elo 2341). He drew his third round match and then won five games on the trot, beating two GMs — Nguyen Huynh Minh Huy and David Bercez — on the way.
*Good News Alert*
🏆 Congratulations to talented Indian junior IM Leon Mendonca Luke for securing his maiden Grandmaster norm in the Budapest Rigochess Int. Chess Festival event that concluded yesterday!
— Chess.com – India (@chesscom_in) October 26, 2020
In the ninth and final round, Mendonca settled for a draw with Hungarian GM Adam Kozak to finish half a point ahead of the field and secure the top prize. The over-the-board tournament was conducted by adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols.
Mendonca said he was happy to win the tournament and earn a GM norm after a few near misses.
“I am very happy to win the event and also gain my first GM norm after missing out on earlier occasions narrowly,” he told PTI. He rated the performance in the last round match against Kozak, wherein he secured a draw after nearly five and half hours of play, as his best in the tournament.