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Leon Luke Mendonca roars at Tata Steel Challengers 2024 with a 2742 performance

by Shahid Ahmed - 29/01/2024

GM Leon Luke Mendonca defeated IM Divya Deshmukh to win Tata Steel Challengers 2024. This triumph earned him a spot at 87th Tata Steel Masters which will take place from 17th January to 2nd February 2025. The win was not easy. Divya had a decisive advantage. However, at a crucial she decided to capture an incorrect bishop which turned the tables in Leon's favor. The teenager had a quiet start as he scored only 3/6 in the first half of the event. However, in the second half, he registered a staggering 6.5/7 which made the huge difference. He mentioned outplaying stronger opponents in complicated position in almost all of them was the key reason for his fantastic finish. Last year he won Baku Open 2023 with a 2732 performance and this time at Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, he became champion by performing at 2742. The boy has certainly made a magnificent start in 2024. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2024

Leon earns himself a spot at 87th Tata Steel Masters 2025

"Thank you. First of all I am very happy and relieved because it was not clear at all throughout the tournament, whether I was close to winning or not. It was only before this round that I had a real chance. I also needed a lot of luck as well but mostly I am just relieved." - GM Leon Luke Mendonca on winning the Challengers section. Leon scored 3/6 in the first half of the event and then went on to score 6.5/7 in the second half. "As I said before, it's honestly no secret. I have no idea what I did. Probably I just went into more complicated positions because I kind of outplayed most of my stronger opponents in complicated positions, almost pretty much all of them. So I guess just going into complicated positions was a good idea. Okay I mean what I can say, it just happened." The Geno and Microsense brand ambassador, Leon on having two contrasting halves at this event.

Tata Steel Chess Challengers 2024 Champion - GM Leon Luke Mendonca 9.5/13 | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2024

"Most definitely. Previously it was winning Baku Open but the prestige involved in such an event is definitely more important than anything I have ever won before." - Leon whether winning Tata Steel Challengers 2024 is the highlight of his career so far. "Definitely great. It's such a strong tournament. It's had and still is a great tradition. I'm just happy to make a debut." - Leon on qualifying to the 87th Tata Steel Masters 2025.

Leon - Divya: 1-0

GM Leon Luke Mendonca (2608) had played three Classical rated games against IM Divya Deshmukh (2420). He lost none of them. It seemed like his unbeaten record was in danger as his king became vulnerable.

Position after 27.Rxg2

Which bishop should Black capture? Taking the f4-bishop would have been right for Black. Instead, she captured the light squared bishop 27...Qxe2+ 28.Bd2 Rac8 29.Re1 Rxc4+ 30.Kb3 and Black cannot avoid a material loss. Since GM Marc' Andria Maurizzi (FRA) drew his game, this win ensured Leon becoming a clear champion.

Leon Luke Mendonca wins Tata Steel Challengers 2024 | Video: Tata Steel Chess Tournament

GM Leon Luke Mendonca en route his final round victory over IM Divya Deshmukh | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2024

GM Leon Luke Mendonca receives his prize at the closing ceremony | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2024

Leon Luke Mendonca scored an impressive 9.5/13, performed at 2742 and gained 23.2 Elo rating points

GM Harika Dronavalli defeated IM Eline Roebers (NED) to finish ninth and she is increasing her Elo rating by 3.2 points | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2024

Leon arriving to the playing hall with his father Lyndon Mendonca | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2024

The maestro Vishy Anand congratulated Leon

The 87th Tata Steel Masters 2025 will take place from 17th January to 2nd February. The first confirmed participant is GM Leon Luke Mendonca.

IM Arthur Pijpers (NED) won the Qualifiers. He will play Tata Steel Challengers 2025 | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2024

Replay live stream

Tata Steel Chess 2024 Round 13 Live Commentary by IM Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal | Video: ChessBase India

Replay Round 13 Challengers games

Round 13 results

172602GMDardha, Daniel1 - 0GMVrolijk, Liam257314
282627GML'ami, Erwin½ - ½GMMaurizzi, Marc`andria25726
392500GMDronavalli, Harika1 - 0IMRoebers, Eline23815
4102608GMMendonca, Leon Luke1 - 0IMDivya, Deshmukh24204
5112428IMBeukema, Stefan0 - 1GMSalem, A.R. Saleh26303
6122663GMKorobov, Anton1 - 0GMYilmaz, Mustafa26652
7132615GMSantos Latasa, Jaime½ - ½GMNiemann, Hans Moke26921


Final standings

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtg TB1  TB2 
110GMMendonca, Leon LukeIND26089,52742
26GMMaurizzi, Marc`andriaFRA257292711
37GMDardha, DanielBEL260292708
48GML'ami, ErwinNED26278,52675
512GMKorobov, AntonUKR26638,52673
63GMSalem, A.R. SalehUAE26307,52622
713GMSantos Latasa, JaimeESP261572595
81GMNiemann, Hans MokeUSA269272589
99GMDronavalli, HarikaIND25005,52518
1014GMVrolijk, LiamNED25735,52512
112GMYilmaz, MustafaTUR266552475
124IMDivya, DeshmukhIND24204,52471
1311IMBeukema, StefanBEL24282,52330
145IMRoebers, ElineNED238122288



Starting from Saturday 13th to 27th January, all round starts at 2 p.m. local time, 6:30 p.m. IST. Only Sunday 28th January, the final round will start at 12 p.m. local time, 4:30 p.m. IST. Rest days are same for both Masters and Challengers section - 17th, 22nd and 25th January 2024.

Time Control

100 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes for the remaining moves with 30 seconds increment for each move starting from the first move.


Official site

Tournament Regulations

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