With the accession of Croatia to the European Union, another strong chess nation has now joined the club. Stemming from the same chess school like our member Matija Susković, one of the country’s best players, GM Davorin Kuljašević visited Europchess on 15 September 2014. Born in 1986,
he learned chess at an early age. Preferring the mind game over football, he soon showed extraordinary talent. He became national champion of his age and took 4th place in World Junior Championships in 2001. Davorin then enjoyed a scholarship in the United States where he graduated with a degree in finance in 2008, while playing several years in the US chess league. In 2010, he earned the Grandmaster title and is now member of a number of teams in several strong leagues in Europe. Davorin has recently won strong opens and figures among the top 5 of Croatia with an impressive ELO of 2564.
Invited by Europchess and the Croatian Member of Parliament, Andrej Plenkovic, the very sympathetic grandmaster first showed us a recent game from the Karpos Open 2014 against the Israeli GM Ilya Smirin (2644). The two protagonists fought for 1st prize in a highly exciting game. Davorin deviated from the closed Ruy Lopez in order to surprise his opponent. So he opted for 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Nxe4 6. d4 Be7. This side line avoids the Berlin wall and allows for a more interesting game in the middlegame. Smirin replied 7. Re1 b5 8. Bb3 d5 9. dxe5 transforming to normal patterns in the open Ruy Lopez, where the rook on e1 is less helpful. Indeed 9…Be6 10. c3 0-0 11. Nd4 looks all very familiar, but now the highly interesting 11…Nxe5 followed. White played 12. f3 only to run into the next prepared move 12….Bh4?! The GM now explained to us the unchartered territory with highly tactical lines if White plays 13. fxe4. However, Smirin played safe with 13. Re2 Nf2 14. Rxf2 Bxf2+ 15. Kxf2 Re8 16. Bf4 Qf6 17. Qd2 c5 after which another key position arose. White opted for 18. Bg5 Qg6 19. Bc2 Qh5 hoping for advantage after 20. Nxe6 Rxe6 21. Bf5. However, Black has the nice resource 21….Nxf3! 22. Qxd5. Again analyzing with the entire club, our member FM Georgi Tomov found the winning idea for Black in this position with 22…R6e8! Davorin played instead 22…Rae8 and after 23. Bxe6 Nxg5 24. Bxf7 Qxf7 25. Qxf7 Kxf7 26. g3 the smoke was over and the game ended in a draw. A highly instructive example how to play for a win with Black against the Ruy Lopez!
As an additional highlight, Kuljašević then asked us to solve a chess puzzle with a mate in 4. Just when the entire room was about to give up all efforts, Jozsef Barta had the decisive idea to “put the bishop as far away as possible”, allowing an interesting idea where White’s knight could be regrouped as to force Black’s king into a mating net.
After a small break, the Croatian grandmaster then played a simultaneous exhibition against members of Europchess and some invited players from the European Parliament. Facing a strong opposition over 3.5 hours, he carried the day in 15 games, drew six games (against Alex Amelotti, Jozsef Barta, Frank Hoffmeister, Georgi Tomov, Georges Vassilakis and Johannes Bertram). However, Kristian Frederiksen, Mattias Johansson and Martin Müller forced him to resign, bringing the final result to 18-6! Clearly, our club has shown again our abilities to withstand a strong GM!
As usual, in the margins, members of the club also showed our guest of honor the Parliament and the Commission and invited him for a social dinner with members of the board. Clearly, after this show of sparkling chess in the afternoon, he had deserved a good Belgian beer! We would like to express again our deep gratitude to this talented player and very able chess lecturer for this exciting chess afternoon and wish him all the best for his further career.