He slept outside under the apple trees, dreaming of becoming a world chess champion. The Hungarian prodigy Peter Leko refused to act like other kids when he was young. He did not eat meat, diary products, sugar and chocolate. This diet made him tougher and may have helped his chess career. That career started brilliantly six year ago, then his results leveled off for some time before he made another leap upward.
Three years ago, for example, Leko finished last in a strong traditional tournament in Dortmund, Germany. But he wrote a different story in Dortmund this month. Leko, 19, outscored most of the world's best grandmasters and won in a convincing fashion.
Leko became a grandmaster at the age of 14, the youngest in the world at that time, and vowed to get the title of world champion this year for his 20th birthday. Unless he wins the FIDE world championship in Las Vegas next month or arranges a quick match with one of the players who call themselves the world champions, he will not achieve his goal.
Leko should not be discouraged. He is quickly maturing into a world title contender. Garry Kasparov became the world champ at the age of 22 and Leko still has time to beat or match this record.
Leko's style is incredibly seasoned and solid for his age. He has an attractive opening ammunition, plays the middlegame and endgames with accuracy not seen since Bobby Fischer left the stage. And he rarely loses. Leko scored a remarkable win in Dortmund against Adams, one of the leading experts on the Marshall attack. With a clockwork precision he directed Adam's determined attacking effort to a dead end and finished him with direct blows against the king.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Re4 Bb7 (Suggested by Korchnoi as an alternative to the main line 15...g5, which prevents swinging of the rook to the h-file and sets up a trap 16.Bxg5? Qf5!, winning.) 16.Rh4 Qe6 17.Nd2 f5 (A new attempt, controlling the square e4. But at the same time it weakens the kingside and most importantly the diagonal a2-g8. White was better after 17...Rae8 18.Ne4 Be7 19.Nc5 Bxc5 20.dxc5, played in the game Nunn-Hebden, London 1990.) 18.Qh5 h6 19.Nf3 Be7 20.Rh3 (The rook is seemingly out of place, but Leko expects to launch a dangerous attack by opening up the h-file. He only needs to bring the other rook into the play.) 20...c5 (The natural desire to open up the game for his bishop pair gets black into an unpleasant pin along the diagonal a2-g8. ) 21.dxc5 Bxc5 22.Bf4 (Possible was 22.Bd2, for example 22...Qe2 23.Rf1 and white threatens to shatter the kingside with 24.Bxh6.) 22...Rae8
23.Rd1! (Blending the attack with defense, Leko finds the most precise way to victory. He walks through a minefield, for example 23.Re1? blunders into a mate after 23...Qxe1+ 24.Nxe1 Rxe1+ 25.Kg2 Kh7 26.Bxd5 Bxd5+ 27.f3 Rg1 mate.) 23...Re7 (Adams needs to defend the 7th rank, but 23...Rf7 was a better way to do it. An aggressive approach 23...Qe2 does not work after 24.Rd2! and black is in trouble either after 24...Bxf2+ 25.Kg2 winning a piece; or after 24...Qe6 25.Bxh6! gxh6 26.Rxd5 Bxd5 [Or 26...Bxf2+ 27.Kg2! wins.] 27.Bxd5 Qxd5 28.Qg6+ Kh8 29.Rxh6 mate.) 24.Bg5 Rd7 (Surrendering the e-file, but Adams did not have a choice, for example 24...Ree8 25.Bxh6 gxh6 26.Rxd5! winning.) 25.Re1 Qb6 26.Re2 Kh7 27.Rh4! (This subtle move prepares the final blow, a bishop sacrifice. After the immediate 27.Bxh6 Qxh6 28.Qg5 the rook on h3 hangs unprotected.) 27...a5 28.Bxh6 Qxh6 (After28...gxh6 29.Ng5+ Kh8 30.Re6 Bxf2+ 31.Kf1 Ne3+ 32.Ke2 the king safe and black must lose material.) 29.Qg5 a4 30.Re6 Black resigned.
Winning in Dortmund: Leko 5 points in 7 games; Vladimir Kramnik 4.5; Anand, Anatoly Karpov and Adams, all 4 points; Sokolov 2.5; Vesselin Topalov and Jan Timman 2 points.
Kasparov breaks record
The World Chess Federation (FIDE) published new ratings for July 1999. Garry Kasparov leads the list with 2851 points, breaking the 2850 barrier for the first time in history. Among the top 10 best rated players in the world are: Anand 2771; Kramnik 2760; Alexander Morozevich 2758; Alexei Shirov 2734; Boris Gelfand 2713; Adams 2708; Vassily Ivanchuk 2702; Karpov 2700; Leko 2699. The best rated American is Yasser Seirawan on 29th place with 2653 rating.
Most of these players will play in the $3 million FIDE world championship in Las Vegas. It is a knock-out tournament and it starts on Friday. The winner will be known at the end of August. Kasparov and Anand are not participating. They plan to play their Ultimate world championship separately from FIDE in October.
Solution to today's fragment from L. Kubbel's study (White: Kh3,Qd5,Nf6; Black:Kc3,Qb6,P:b5,c5,d6): 1.Qa8! Kb2 or any other square 2.Nd5. A perfect domination of the blackqueen!