chessbase india logo

IM Raja Rithvik scores second GM-norm at Skalica Open, Leon finishes third in Masters

by Shahid Ahmed - 06/09/2021

IM Raja Rithvik R beat GM Valentina Gunina in a must-win final round to score his second GM-norm at Skalica Chess Festival 2021 in the Open section. Rithvik scored an impressive 7.0/9 to finish sole second with a performance of 2616. He gained 21.7 Elo rating points, a beautifully crafted trophy and €500 as his prize. India's 67th GM and Skalica Open 2020 winner Leon Luke Mendonca scored 5.5/9, finished a half point behind the winner Anton Korobov (UKR) and runner-up Vitaliy Bernadskiy (UKR) to secure third place. He also won a trophy and €800 for his efforts. Check out the article to find Rithvik's epic win over Gunina and also Leon's triumph over Bernadskiy and draw with Korobov. Photo: Skalický Šachový festival

Rithvik beats Gunina in a must-win situation

The 17-year-old IM Raja Rithvik R is a former National under-15 and under-17 champion. He also scored his first GM-norm at Elllobregat Open 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic delayed his opportunity to travel and play over-the-board tournaments. However, he has been working hard with N V S Ramaraju at RACE (Ramaraju Academy of Chess Education) and Ukrainian coach GM Alexander Goloshchapov. After missing out his second GM-norm by a whisker on several occasion, he finally scored it in Skalica, Slovakia.

Top 3 in Open (L to R) - 2nd IM Rithvik Raja R, 1st GM Jergus Pechac (SVK) and 3rd GM Friso Nijboer (NED) | Photo: Skalický Šachový festival

Skalica Open 2020 winner GM Leon Luke Mendonca finished third in Skalica Open 2021 Masters | Photo: Skalický Šachový festival

Skalica Open 2020 winner, GM Leon Luke Mendonca made his mark by finishing third 5.5/9 in the Masters section. He drew with the eventual champion Anton Korobov 6.0/9 and defeated the eventual runner-up Vitaliy Bernadskiy 6.0/9. Leon gained 6.0 Elo rating points in the process

Top 3 in Masters (L to R): 3rd GM Leon Luke Mendonca, 1st GM Vitaliy Bernadskiy (UKR) and 2nd GM Anton Korobov (UKR) | Photo: Skalický Šachový festival


Rithvik scored six wins, two draws and suffered only one loss against the eventual champion GM Jergus Pechac. The most important was against GM Valentina Gunina in the final round as it was a must-win situation for him to score his second GM-norm.

Gunina - Rithvik, Round 9

Position after 20...Kh8

Gunina has already sacrificed a knight to expose Black's kingside. Draw was the best result White could gain out of this position. 21.Nf7+ Rxf7 22.Qxf7 Bxg2 and now White cannot win the game with either 23.Qxe7 or Kxg2, both are devoid of winning chances for White. The three-time Russian and European individual champion went for 21.e4. Black retreated his queen 21...Qd8

Position after 38.f4

Despite Black's king seeming more vulnerable than White's, Black is out of the woods. 38...e4 was played and Rithvik showed staunch defence and went on to beat Gunina in her own game, a volatile-sharp encounter, something which she prefers and thrives on. This win allowed Rithvik to score his second GM-norm and finish second in the overall standings in the Open section.

Rithvik en route his important victory over Gunina | Photo: Skalický Šachový festival

In the fifth round, Rithvik defeated the eventual second runner-up GM Friso Nijboer (NED).

Rithvik - Nijboer, Round 5

Position after 15...f4

15...f4 forces White to take on c5. 16.Bxc5 Qxc5, and now what should White do? Rithvik executed a fantastic plan and won the game in another eight moves.

Rithvik performed at 2616, scored 7.0/9 and gained 21.7 Elo rating points

Replay all games of Rithvik


Leon defeated the eventual runner-up GM Vitaliy Bernadskiy (UKR) in the fifth round.

Leon - Bernadskiy, Round 5

Position after 25...Nxd5

Black had to play 25...Rxd5 as 25...Nxd5 costs material. Find out how.

Leon drew with four-time Ukraine champion GM Anton Korobov in the sixth round. He made a brilliant save in the endgame.

Korobov - Leon, Round 6

Position after 40.Kg1

Find out how can Black save the game after 40.Kg1.

Leon in action against IM Jan Vykouk (CZE) | Photo: Skalický Šachový festival

Photo Gallery

Rithvik with the Chief Arbiter of the Open section - IA Diviak Rastislav | Photo: Deepika Rajavaram

The tournament hall | Photo: Skalický Šachový festival

The well-crafted beautiful prizes | Photo: Skalický Šachový festival

IM Raja Rithvik R receives his second GM-norm certificate | Photo: Skalický Šachový festival

Rithvik with his mother Deepika Rajavaram

Replay all games of Leon

Final Standings in Open

Rk.SNo NameTypsexFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
GMPechac JergusSVK2523Tj Mladost Zilina7,548,023986
IMRaja Rithvik RU18IND24337,048,023966
GMNijboer FrisoNED24686,548,523005
FMHollan MartinCZE23556,537,521795
GMGunina ValentinawRUS24376,049,023305
GMHera Imre Jr.HUN26016,047,023054
FMHaring FilipU18SVK2357Sk Junior Cvc Banska Bystrica6,047,022934
FMFinek VaclavU18CZE23726,045,023106
Zetocha AdrianU18SVK2082Sk Slovan Bratislava6,042,522555
FMFarkas GaborSVK2347Msk Gabcikovo6,041,522835

Complete standings

Final Standings in Masters

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
GMKorobov AntonUKR26836,023,250,04
GMBernadskiy VitaliyUKR25946,023,000,04
GMMendonca Leon LukeIND25375,523,250,03
IMVykouk JanCZE24455,521,500,04
GMMovsesian SergeiARM26385,021,000,02
IMLomasov SemyonRUS25245,017,750,04
GMMichalik PeterCZE25924,517,250,01
FMKostolansky Sebastian LukasSVK23944,015,000,02
IMSahidi SamirSVK24373,512,000,02
Brhel JanSVK20490,00,000,00



Skalický Šachový festival fb

Related news:
Anand on his record-breaking 10th victory at the Leon Masters

@ 12/07/2024 by Rasika Ratnaparkhi (en)
आनंद नें रिकॉर्ड 10वीं बार जीता लियॉन मास्टर्स

@ 01/07/2024 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Vishy Anand wins Leon Masters for the tenth time in his career

@ 01/07/2024 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
37th Magistral Ciudad de Leon: Vishy Anand beats Veselin Topalov, advances to the Final

@ 29/06/2024 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
37th Magistral Ciudad de Leon: Arjun Erigaisi and Vishy Anand set to face Jaime Latasa and Veselin Topalov

@ 28/06/2024 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Leon Luke Mendonca wins Spring Chess Classic 2024

@ 20/04/2024 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Leon Mendonca - A typical day in the life of a professional chess player

@ 04/02/2024 by ChessBase (en)
The super coach who has helped India create 10 GMs - Aleksander Goloshchapov

@ 25/08/2023 by Sneha Tiwari (en)
Leon Luke Mendonca clinches Baku Open 2023 with a 2732 performance

@ 13/05/2023 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
An interview with the boy who scored 9/9 - GM Leon Mendonca

@ 26/03/2023 by Himank Ghosh (en)
Leon Luke Mendonca finishes with an immaculate 9/9 after winning 27th Hit Open 2023

@ 24/03/2023 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Leon Luke Mendonca conquers 27th Hit Open 2023 scoring 8/8 and one round to spare

@ 23/03/2023 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
27th Hit Open 2023 R1-7: Leon Luke Mendonca is in perfect harmony 7/7

@ 22/03/2023 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Leon Luke Mendonca triumphs at 38th ChessOrg Festival Bad Woerishofen 2023, Visakh second and Shyam third

@ 14/03/2023 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
John Paul Wallace wins 6th Kragero Resort Open 2023, Leon third

@ 08/03/2023 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Endgame Magic #229: Indian talent Leon Luke Mendonca shows endgame highlights from his games

@ 01/03/2023 by Karsten Müller (en)
Leon Luke Mendonca wins Gold and Silver for Varos Arad at Romanian Superliga Team 2022

@ 11/10/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Your chance to meet Vishy Anand and the young super talents of Indian chess in Bangalore!

@ 06/09/2022 by Sagar Shah (en)
Platon Galperin wins 10th Pontevedra Masters, Leon Luke Mendonca third

@ 02/08/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
आनंद से जीते गेलफंड, बने लियॉन मास्टर्स विजेता

@ 12/07/2022 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Blazing fast Gelfand wins 35th Leon Masters in Playoffs

@ 11/07/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
आनंद और गेलफंड खेलेंगे लियॉन मास्टर्स का फाइनल

@ 10/07/2022 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
35th Leon Masters: Vishy Anand beats Jaime Santos Latasa, advances to the Final

@ 09/07/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Leon Luke Mendonca triumphs at Hamburg Chess Club GM Invitational 2022

@ 28/05/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Breaking News: Raja Rithvik R becomes the 70th Grandmaster of India

@ 18/09/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Leon makes a double hat-trick of tournament wins

@ 28/06/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Unstoppable Leon conquers three events in April 2021

@ 02/05/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Leon Luke Mendonca becomes unbeaten champion again at 2nd Kumania GM

@ 25/03/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Leon Luke Mendonca wins 1st Vezerkepzo IM Round-Robin

@ 05/02/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
1st Vezerkepzo IM R8: Leon takes a full point lead heading into the final round

@ 03/02/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Leon maintains his sole lead at 1st Vezerkepzo IM Round-Robin

@ 02/02/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Blitz Challenge with India's latest GM Leon Mendonca

@ 08/01/2021 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
14 साल के लियॉन मेदोंसा बने भारत के 67वे ग्रांड मास्टर

@ 05/01/2021 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
लियॉन नें जीता कुमानिया इंटरनेशनल शतरंज

@ 02/12/2020 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Leon Mendonca wins Kumánia Championship

@ 02/12/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Leon and Souhardo dominate First Saturday November 2020

@ 18/11/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Leon wins Budapest Rigochess and makes his his maiden GM-norm

@ 27/10/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
लियॉन को ग्रांड मास्टर नार्म ! रेटिंग भी 2500 पार

@ 26/10/2020 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
Champions Combat Corona - IM Rithvik Raja

@ 08/06/2020 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Stranded in Budapest – but rewarded by the world's best! + Anand returns!

@ 30/05/2020 by Lyndon Mendonca (en)
Lucena in Lockdown #2: IM Leon Mendonca

@ 09/04/2020 by Avathanshu Bhat (en)
Top seeds IM Raja Rithvik and WIM Divya Deshmukh win National under-15 2019

@ 20/07/2019 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Ivanchuk's endgame sorcery overcomes Nihal's youthful magic!

@ 06/07/2019 by Tanmay Srinath (en)
12 साल के लियॉन बने भारत के नए इंटरनेशनल मास्टर

@ 18/02/2019 by Niklesh Jain (hi)
12-year-old Leon Mendonca creates history by scoring three IM norms in 17 days!

@ 17/02/2019 by Sagar Shah (en)
Rithvik Raja joint winner at First Friday November

@ 12/11/2017 by Peter Long (en)
Raja Rithvik and K Priyanka win National Under 17

@ 09/11/2017 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Rithvik Raja and Arpita Mukherjee lead after Round 7 in National Under-17

@ 29/10/2017 by Shahid Ahmed (en)

Contact Us