The Sakkzseni from Szeged

6/17/2005 – Don't be afraid – sakkzseni means "Chess Genius", and the southern Hungarian city of Szeged is pronounced "segg-gedd". The person in question is the 25-year-old world championship challenger Peter Leko, who like Géza Maróczy and Franz Liszt is a great hero of the townfolk. Here's a big illustrated report of Peter's Szeged.

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The sakkzseni (chess genius) from the Szeged

By Slobodan Adzic

On May 1st 2004 Hungary became a member of the European Union, and by this the town of Szeged has become Europe's southern gateway.

The sun shines here for 2,100 hours a year. That is why Szeged (pronounced "segg-gedd", to rhyme with egghead), situated at the confluence of the rivers Tisza and Maros, is usually known as "the City of the Sunshine" (Hungarian: a Napfény Városa). There are two universities and almost a hundred fish restaurants.


The Cathedral ”Dom”, which is symbol of Szeged

Today Szeged is mostly known as the town where the world's number four ranked chess player, Peter Leko, 25, lives. This is possible the only chess player in the world to whom the city where he lives gave the title of Honorary Citizen.


The other symbol, Peter Leko, posing in front of the Dom

In Europe Szeged’s name sounds familiar to gourmets because of the 136-year-old salami manufacturing company PICK.


The Géza Maróczy Square. On the plaque it says: Géza Maróczy (1870-1951). More than half a century long a leading chess player, two times Olympiad Champion (1927 London and 1936 München).

In Hungary Szeged is a synonym for chess. In this town, in the southern part of the country, with a population of 250,000 (the third largest in Hungary) lived Géza Maróczy, one of the world's best grandmasters in the first half of the twentieth century.


A bust of the famous composer Franz Liszt, pianist and composer, on Dom Ter (Dom Square). Liszt, who spent many years studying in Szeged, was possibly the greatest piano virtuoso of all time. He studied and played in Vienna and Paris, and for most of his life toured throughout Europe giving concerts.

Another famous personality: Albert Szent-Györgyi, the discoverer of Vitamin C, lived and worked in Szeged for a long period. He was given the Chair of Medical Chemistry at the University of Szeged in1928, and for his findings was awarded with the Nobel prize in 1937.


The Town Hall of Szeged

Szeged is the only city in the country where chess is a subject in primary schools, from the first class onwards. For thousands of children Peter Leko is an idol. His world championship match against Kramnik was broadcast live in the center of the city, in the pedestrian precinct of the Hotel Royal.


Receiving an award from the Mayor of Szeged Dr. Laszlo Botka


When he returned from Brissago Mayor Botka awarded Peter Leko the 2005 Honorary Citizenship of Szeged. In the City Hall Leko showed the Szeged political leadership some games from Brissago.


Peter with Hungary's Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany

The draw result and the excellent performance was the reason why he was given the honorary citizen title from the City Senate and Mayor Dr Laszlo Botka. Peter visited Hungary's Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, and recently a new book titled "A sakkzseni" (Chess Genius) about Leko Peter's life has been presented. The authors of the book are journalists Imre Dlustus from Szeged and Miklos Novak from Budapest.


The presentation of the book "A Sakkzseni" by Imre Dlustus, a journalist from Szeged who, as the Editor of the local magazine "Delmagyarorszag", has supported Peter Leko since he was eight; and Robert Suli, also a journalist and Peter’s tennis partner.

Peter's Szeged


The river Tisza, which periodically floods parts of the city


The bridge across the river


A market stand at the river


Chess pieces on sale in street stalls


Available in many different shapes and sizes


An interview with Peter Leko at Dom Square


Wife Sofia with her grandmother


With Sofia and a Szeged chess fan


Analysing with father-in-law Arshak Petrosian


A 100-board simul with Arshak Petrosian, Ildiko Madl, Veronika Schneider, the current Hungarian women's champion GM Nikoletta Lakos, and Peter Leko against Szeged prominence


A special hand-carved wooden chess set for sale at the simul. It was provided by the Mayor of Szeged for auction, and the income will be used for the local chess club "Maróczy" in Szeged


Peter the soccer player and fan


In action in an indoor match


When we were just 2300 – a picture form the Leko family album


The Author

Slobodan Adzic, 47, is a FIDE master who spent most of his life in Novi Sad, former Yugoslavia, where he worked as a professional journalist. He also took a degree at the University of Economics and Journalism in Belgrade. From 1976 to 1983 Slobodan published about 2000 articles in the biggest daily newspaper of Yugoslavia, Vecernje Novosti. From 1985 until 1992 he was the chess editor of the daily newspaper "Dnevnik" in Novi Sad. He was the editor of the bulletins during the Chess Olympiads in 1990 (Novi Sad), 1992, (Manila) and 1996 (Yerevan).

In 1985 Slobodan Adzic founded the company Chess Press in Novi Sad. After sanctions were imposed against Yugoslavia and the match Fischer-Spassky in Sveti Stefan he moved Chess Press to Szeged. Today Slobodan is the editor of "Sakkfutár", a monthly Hungarian chess magazine, and manager of the Chess Press Center in Szeged. In the first days of July Chess Press will release Garry Kasparov's book "My Great Predecessors I" in the Hungarian language.


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