India got it's 67th Grandmaster as Leon Luke Mendonca completed his third and final GM norm at the Vergani Cup in Italy.
Leon achieved the feat at the age of 14 years, 9 months and 17 days and became the second Grandmaster from Goa. He had got his first GM norm at the Rigo Chess GMRR back in October and got his second within weeks, at the 1st Saturday event in Budapest, all in just 21 days.
The pursuit for the third made Leon wait as the youngster had left for the Aeroflot Openback in February but was hated by the coronavirus pandemic. He and his father stayed in rented accommodations but continued his training with his coach GM Vishnu Prasanna.
He does miss his mother and home but quickly gets over that phase by playing and training," Leon's father told TOI.
During the pandemic-induced lockdown, Leon managed to take part in 16 events in the last 9 months and increased his rating from 2452 to 2544.
Mendonca said he was delighted to become a GM and thanked those who supported him through thick and thin. "Yeah.. I am delighted to become a GM. It has come after a lot of hard work. I can't thank several people including my parents, coach Vishu Prasanna and sponsors for the success," he told PTI.
The Goa youngster had taken part in a camp organised by Microsense in Chennai late in 2019 when former world champions Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand trained a number of Indian players. After the second GM norm was achieved, his father had said, "It has been challenging to stay in Europe and for him to compete in events. We have been staying in Airbnb rooms. "Also, it has been difficult to plan for tournaments due to the uncertainty. But it has been a rewarding one though." Chennai player G Akash, had in July, become the country's 66th Grandmaster.
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