The rapid chess match between Vladimir Kramnik, the reigning world champion, and Peter Leko, Hungary's top grandmaster and former world championship challenger – in 2004 he held Kramnik to a 7-7 draw, after which Kramnik retained the title – takes place from April 23 and 30 in Miskolc, Hungary. We will report extensively on this match.
The chess event was started off on Monday with the presentation of the "Lékó Péter Sakkiskola" in Miskolc, the Peter Leko Chess School, which will be held in the VIP rooms of the city's soccer club. The school is funded by the city government, in full for the first year. After that there are expected to be external sponsors.
Our arrival in Miskolc was timed to allow us to attend the opening ceremony of the school. After a hectic journey from Hamburg (and for colleague Dagobert Kohlmeyer from Berlin) we just about made it. At the entranced of the school we were greeted by the patron of the school, Peter Leko, who was obviously deeply gratified by this project.
Peter Leko at the entrance of the chess school that bears his name
The brass sign says it all – in just about discernable Hungarian
The soccer stadium with which the chess school is affiliated
Inside Peter takes center stage with Géza Fuhrmann and the Sports Mayor Lajos Orosz Geza Fuhrmann has been the head of the Miskolc Sports School, which promotes 15 different sports and provides 12,000 training units per year.
The patron speaks about the goals of his school
... with the local media taking it all in.
The Leko clan: wife Sophie (right), with her mother Marina and father Arshak Petrosian, who is a GM and Peter's most trusted second.
A brass band – four trombones – accompanies the festivities
Peter Leko fans, and pupils of his chess school
One girl reads a poem for her chess hero
She then collects a couple of friends and challengs some boys to a game
The boys are more than willing to take them on
It is fascinating to watch such consultation games played by talented juniors
A group portrait with their mentor
Report and pictures by Frederic Friedel
Kohlmeyer: How did you get the idea of starting a chess school with your name?
Leko: I had this idea a long time ago. I know from my own experience how difficult it can be to make progress in one's chess career right at the beginning, and I was determined that these children must be given the opportunity to be properly trained. Last year, during my match against Anatoly Karpov, I discussed the matter with the Mayor of Miskolc, Sandor Kali, who really loves chess. He thought it was a great idea and went to work on it himself.
As an active player you will not be able to train the children yourself. Who will do this?
There are three trainers, later more will be employed. First of all there is Attila Barva, who not only does all of the organisational work but also trains the children. Attila is rated over 2400, so he is really strong. Another trainer is IM Gyula Meszaros, an old friend of mine. He was the trainer of GM Ferenc Berkes. The kids love him, because he has a very pleasant way of working with them.
How ofter will you be personally present in the Leko Chess School?
Once or twice a year. As long as I am a chess professional I of couse cannot afford to keep visiting the school too often. The important thing at the moment was to get things going and to use my name to attract sponsors. Once the school has started work and the children start to show good results I am sure there will be a lot of support.
How big is the interest amongst attending the chess school?
About 70 children are already registered, and 60 are waiting to get a place. We select the most talented. It is clear that there will be some hard work ahead for them – four or five training sessions per week. If we do something like this we must do it properly.
Hungary is a country with a great chess tradition. The chess legend Lajos Portisch turned 70 at the beginning of this month. Did you remember this?
Of course, even though we are not constantly in touch. What Lajos did for our country in chess can hardly be repeated. Just to play in 20 Olympiads would be impossible these days. I think it is important to honour such veterans of chess, and that was done with the match between Portisch and Spassky.
What do you think will be the result in your rapid chess match against Vladimir Kramnik? After the world championship match in Brissago in 2004 you have a score to settle.
You cannot compare the two. One was a full world championship, and we were both very well prepared. This here is more of an exhibition event, which will still be very interesting and exciting. Kramnik is the absolute world champion and in great form. After overcoming his illness he has been playing at the highest possible level, at the Olympiad in Turin, in Dortmund, Wijk aan Zee and Monaco. He is playing brilliantly, which means it will be very difficult for me.
So you are the underdog?
Probably, yes. Vladimir is certainly the favourite. But on the other hand Miskolc is a very special place. The people here and my fans will be supporting me with everything they have. That is sure to drive me to show the best performance I am capable of, and to achieve a good result.