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Aiming for the grandmaster title

RAMANDEEP KAUR | NT KURIOCITY

Leon Mendonca is the youngest ever in Goa (at 7 years) to be conferred the prestigious title of Candidate Master (CM) by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) and youngest boy in Goa (at 6 years) to commence an Elo rating. He added another feather to his hat when he won gold at the 49th edition of the International Schools Team Chess Championship held in Sochi, Russia recently.

12-year-old Leon started playing chess at the age of 6 but took it seriously only after winning the bronze medal at the prestigious ‘World Youth Chess Championship’ held in Durban, South Africa in 2014. He says: “I started playing chess merely to beat my older sister Beverly who plays the game as a hobby. She introduced chess to our family.” After being taught by Beverly, he coached briefly under Prassana Swami, Peter Carvalho and Swapnil Hoble and sought help from Nagpur-based Akash Thakur. He is currently training under grandmaster RB Ramesh from Chennai. Leon likes everything about chess and practices for around five hours a day on an average. Presently studying in class 7 at Vellamal Vidyalaya, Chennai, Leon says: “I do not feel the academic pressure as yet,” adding that his parents help him with his difficulties.

Speaking about Leon’s interest in chess, his father Lyndon Mendonca says as long as he has the passion for chess, there will be growth. Apart from chess, Leon’s hobbies include soccer, table tennis, badminton, playing the violin and the card game – fool.

His future ambition is to attain the title of ‘World’s Youngest Grandmaster’ and represent India in all future international tournaments.

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