Leon Mendonca wins eight games in a row, secures first place at Hit Open

by Shahid Ahmed
3/23/2023 – Leon Luke Mendonca has won the 2023 Hit Open with a round to spare after scoring eight wins in as many games. In the penultimate round, the teenager defeated GM Nigel Davies in just 19 movies. The veteran grandmaster from England neglected the safety of his king and paid a heavy price for it. The youngster from Goa turned 17 years old just ten days ago. | Photo: Nova Garica Chess Club

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Two consecutive successes

A total of 84 players, including 10 GMs and an IM, are taking part in the A group (>1500) of the Hit Open in Slovenia. The 8-day 9-round Swiss tournament is organized by the Chess Club Nova Gorica on March 16-23. The time control of the tournament is 90 minutes for the game plus 30-second increments from the first move.

Leon Luke Mendonca, the brand ambassador of Geno and Microsense, is having a great run in European tournaments. A week ago, he won the main event of the ChessOrg Festival in Bad Woerishofen with a 7½/9 score. Now, at the 27th edition of the Hit Open, the youngster outdid himself by collecting eight consecutive wins to claim tournament victory with one round to spare.

The 67th Indian player to get the grandmaster title, which he received in January 2021, is now the 16th highest-rated player aged 20 or younger in the live ratings list. Mendonca turned 17 on March 13. 

Rapid interview - Leon Mendonca

In round 8, the youngster defeated Nigel Davies with the white pieces. Davies pushed his pawn to g5 on move 13.


Black seems to be forcing White to trade the bishop for the knight on e5. However, White is not forced to do so. Leon went 14.Bxg5 Nxc4 15.Rac1 Rg8 16.Bh4, keeping the bishop in the important diagonal, so that the black king cannot castle its way into safety easily.


16...b5? was the first mistake. And things went from bad to worse for Black — after 17.b3, Davies’ Qf4?? was a blunder.


18.Kh1 steps out of the pin, which means both the queen on f4 and the knight on c4 are under attack. 18...Qd2 19.Rfd1 and Black resigned, as there is no way to save the queen and prevent Rd8# at the same time. A fantastic way to score 8/8 and win the tournament for Leon.

Hit Chess Open

Delectable chess cakes | Photo: Chess Club Nova Gorica

Hit Chess Open

The tournament hall | Photo: Chess Club Nova Gorica

Standings after round 8

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Mendonca, Leon Luke 8 0
2 Tratar, Marko 6 0
3 Brunello, Sabino 5,5 0
4 Strikovic, Aleksa 5,5 0
5 Tisaj, Domen 5,5 0
6 Cvitan, Ognjen 5,5 0
7 Favaloro, Andrea 5,5 0
8 Kozlovic, Jernej 5,5 0
9 Bifulco, Michel 5,5 0
10 Wadsworth, Matthew J 5 0
11 Davies, Nigel R 5 0
12 Lavrencic, Matic 5 0
13 Drazic, Sinisa 5 0
14 Garsky, Vladyslav 5 0
15 Gregoric, Andraz 5 0

...84 players

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Shahid Ahmed is the senior coordinator and editor of ChessBase India. He enjoys covering chess tournaments and also likes to play in chess events from time to time.