India's Leon Mendonca earns maiden GM norm with title in Hungary

Earlier this year, Leon Mendonca (left) won the Balaton Chess festival in Budapest and finished second at the Paracin Open in Serbia. Lyndon Mendonca

Young Indian International Master (IM) Leon Luke Mendonca, 14, earned his maiden Grandmaster (GM) norm after winning the title at the Rigochess International Chess Festival Open in Hungary.

Mendonca won six games, drew two and lost one to secure seven points from nine rounds, emerging winner in a 10-player field that included three GMs. The event was played over the board, in adherence to Covid-19 protocols. Mendonca said he was happy to win the tournament and earn a GM norm after a few near-misses. "I am very happy to win the event and also gain my first GM norm after missing out on earlier occasions narrowly," he told PTI.

The Goa-based player (Elo 2499) won his opening-round match against fellow IM William Paschall before going down to lower-rated Alex Krstulovic (Elo 2341). He drew his third-round match and then won five games on the trot, beating two GMs -- Nguyen Huynh Minh Huy and David Bercez -- on the way.

In the ninth and final round, Mendonca settled for a draw with Hungarian GM Adam Kozak to finish half a point ahead of the field and secure the top prize. He rated the performance against Kozak, wherein he secured the draw after nearly five and half hours of play, as his best in the tournament.