Leon Luke strikes again!

by Frederic Friedel
4/23/2024 – A couple of weeks ago Leon Mendonca turned 18. After many spectacular successes — like a 9.0/9 score in a very strong GM Open a year ago and winning the Challegers group in Wijk aan Zee — Leon just won the Spring Chess Classic 2024 at the Saint Louis Chess Club – outright. The round robin event had ten grandmasters with an average rating of 2625. This remarkable young player has recorded a very interesting FritzTrainer for us. | Photos by Austin Fuller

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

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The Spring Classic 2024 took place at the Saint Louis Chess Club, from April 11 – 20, 2024.

Renowned for offering intense competition, the Classic Chess series is an ideal proving ground for Grandmasters and International Masters to measure their mettle against equally skilled opponents. The 2024 Spring Chess Classic featured two 10-player Round Robin tournaments. Over a compelling nine-day period, these elite competitors contended for a significant prize fund of $40,000, and sought to acquire invaluable experience in a high-caliber event. 

Group A consisted of ten very strong grandmasters – average rating 2625!

And this is what the final results were:

And here the clear winner of the event: 

Leon Luke Mendonca is an Indian grandmaster from Goa, India. He became an International Master at the age of 12 years, 11 months, and earned his GM title when he was 14.

After his win in Saint Louis I congratulated Leon (on Skype) and added: "Remind me, why did you skip the Candidates in Toronto?" His reply: "Lol. I promise I won't skip the next one."

Not unlikely – this kid has it in him. We remind you that a year ago, Leon shocked the chess world by clinching 27th German Hit GM Open 2023 with a perfect 9/9 score. He had just turned 17 at the time, and had performed at a 3196 level. Here's a report on that success. Earlier this year Leon won the Challengers Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, outright.

After the Wijk tournament he came to Hamburg and stayed in the ChessBase flat, recording material for us. We had another visitor at the time...

Leon playing a blitz game against World Champion Ding Liren in the ChessBase office

Leon recorded a very nice Fritztrainer for us:

The Keymer Variation - 1.Nf3 d5 2.e3

He writes: “People did not take 1.Nf3 d5 2.e3 too seriously until recently, when online chess started becoming popular due to the pandemic, as this opening was used frequently. I discovered how venomous this opening was when I was trying to find a way to play against it with black, and to my surprise this was not easy. Vincent Keymer uses this opening in a huge percentage of his games and gets great positions and results with them. With this opening, White avoids mainstream theory, and there is more than one possibility for each move. The opening is a mix of positional and attacking elements depending on what system black chooses. I think most club-level players would not know how to effectively counter this opening.”

This video course features the ins-and-outs of the possible setups Black can choose. You’ll learn the key concepts and strategies needed to add this fantastic opening to your repertoire. An easy-to-learn and yet venomous weapon that will make your opening play more versatile. Moreover, this course enables you to practice the repertoire with the ChessBase Opening Trainer. Drilling the opening moves, guessing how a position arose, or just replay the moves in your desired speed further reveal the ideas this opening has to offer. Start your journey now!

Sample video

Order Leon Mendonca's Fritztrainer in the ChessBase Shop

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.
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Steven E DuCharm Steven E DuCharm 4/23/2024 05:59
The future is now!