Damljanovic wins Open Serbian Championship

by Priyadarshan Banjan
7/12/2015 – Chess is a young man's game? Not necessarily so, if you ask Branko Damljanovic. The 54-year old Serbian Grandmaster just won the International Championship of Central Serbia with a score of 7.5/9, leaving a number of young and old masters behind. Second place went to GM Nikola Sedlak, third place to young British IM Fernandez. Report, games, tactics.

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International Championship of Central Serbia, 2015 – Age is just a number!

It is a trend in modern chess praxis that young players dominate the event pushing aside old experienced warhorses. Anand and Topalov may still be going strong at the top echelons, but they are the two in a crowd. There are exceptions here and there – Victor Korchnoi comes to mind – but they are unusual. The open International Championship of Central Serbia, 2015 at Paracin, Serbia however bucked this trend as 54-years old Serbian GM Branko Damljanovic won the tournament, with many older players holding fort.

Into its eighth edition, the International Chess festival at Serbia is turning into a traditional event, with players from nearby European countries making it their regular stop. In addition to the chance of playing an excellently organized event, Paracin is a friendly city with an array of interesting activities to enjoy.

Hotel Petrus (Photo: www.panoramio.com)

The Interational Championship of Central Serbia, 2015 was held from 3rd July, 2015 to 10th July, 2015 at Hotel Petrus in Paracin, a scenic city in Central Serbia. The Youth Chess Club of Paracin organized the chess festival that had an A group for players above 2100, an Open B group for other players, and a Rapid Tournament.

The tournament was a 9 round swiss with a time-control of 90 Minutes for the whole game, with 30 seconds increment from move one. 115 players from 17 countries played in the A Open. Eleven of them were Grand Masters and thirteen International Masters.

"Who is your opponent tonight?" Rubinstein: "...the black pieces."

The winner of the tournament: GM Branko Damljanovic (2565)

Serbian GM Branko Damljanovic won the tournament by a margin of half a point with a score of 7.5/9. The 1961 born Serb who had a peak rating of 2625 (year 2006) played solid chess to stay undefeated throughout the event. Instructive maneuvering of the pieces to improve their position marked GM Damljanovic’s play, as can be observed from this crucial penultimate round encounter against Daniel Howard Fernandez.


GM Damljanovic collecting his winner’s purse

GM Nikola Sedlak (2537) of Serbia finished second, half a point behind his
compatriot – he conceded a draw more than GM Damljanovic.

In round eight Sedlak won a crucial game because of his good feeling for the endgame:


Place three went to British IM Daniel Howard Fernandez  (2472).

Fernandez played impressive chess throughout the event with his only loss coming against the eventual winner. He finished third with the best tiebreak score after tallying 6.5/9 points.  He missed his GM norm as his rating performance fell short of the 2600 mark.

Top-seed Hungarian GM Tamas Banusz (2582) finished fourth with 6.5/9

Final Ranking after 9 Rounds

Rk.   Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1   TB2 
1 GM Damljanovic Branko SRB 2565 7.5 48.0 38.5
2 GM Sedlak Nikola SRB 2537 7.0 49.0 38.5
3 IM Fernandez Daniel Howard ENG 2472 6.5 49.5 36.0
4 GM Banusz Tamas HUN 2582 6.5 49.0 35.5
5 GM Kosic Dragan MNE 2487 6.5 47.5 35.5
6 GM Kadric Denis BIH 2511 6.5 47.0 33.0
7 GM Abramovic Bosko SRB 2431 6.5 46.5 34.5
8 GM Savic Miodrag R SRB 2505 6.5 46.0 32.5
9 GM Djukic Nikola MNE 2543 6.5 45.5 33.0
10 IM Narayanan Srinath IND 2464 6.5 45.0 34.5
11 IM Marholev Dimitar BUL 2317 6.5 45.0 31.0
12 GM Atalik Suat TUR 2564 6.0 49.0 34.5
13 IM Kozhuharov Spas BUL 2460 6.0 44.0 33.5
14 IM Nestorovic Dejan SRB 2408 6.0 41.5 30.0
15 IM Nestorovic Nikola SRB 2452 6.0 40.5 31.0
16   Ratkovic Miloje SRB 2341 6.0 40.0 29.0
17 FM Brankovic Dejan SRB 2322 6.0 39.5 28.0
18 FM Zivkovic Ivan B SRB 2347 6.0 37.5 28.5
19 IM Cvetkovic Srdjan SRB 2301 5.5 48.5 32.0
20 FM Filev Georgi BUL 2344 5.5 44.0 31.5
21   Tselkovskiy Kirill RUS 2137 5.5 44.0 31.0
22 GM Lajthajm Borko SRB 2443 5.5 43.0 30.5
23   Radovanovic Nikola SRB 2420 5.5 43.0 30.5
24 FM Petrov Vladimir Sergeev BUL 2307 5.5 43.0 30.0
25   Radovanovic Mihajlo SRB 2245 5.5 43.0 29.0
26 IM Radlovacki Jovan SRB 2393 5.5 41.5 29.5
27 IM Zajic Milan SRB 2489 5.5 41.5 27.0
  FM Somborski Nebojsa SRB 2325 5.5 41.5 27.0
29 FM Jovanovic Sasa T SRB 2211 5.5 38.5 22.0
30 FM Vujacic Borivoje SRB 2262 5.5 38.0 26.5

Source: chess-results.com



Russian youngster Kirill Tselkovskiy (2137) scored 5.5/9 to register an IM norm

Young Serb Mihajlo Radovanovic (2245) was the second player to register an IM norm.

IM Srinath Narayanan (2464)

Former World U-12 Champion IM Srinath Narayanan (2464) of India won the 11th Memorial Rapid Tournament that was organized on the rest day. In a 136 players field, IM Srinath coasted to a smooth victory with 7.5/9.

Live games at the venue

Some choice tactics for you to solve:

White to play, a very cute tactic.

Black to play. There is no other move but…

White to play. Penalty shoot-out.

White to play. Mad elephant on the run, who will catch it?

White to play one of the oldest tricks in the book.

(Solutions follow at the end of the article)

64-years old Serbian GM Bosko Abramovic (2431) started as the 17th seed
and finished 7th in the main prize list. He works as the selector of the
Serbian National team and had a peak rating of 2633.

69-years old Serbian IM Srdjan Cvetkovic (2301) lost only
one game in the tournament – in the last round to the
second runner-up. He took home the Best Senior player prize.

Age is just a number.

Chess as a sport has transcended the age and gender barriers.
What matters is that thing between your ears…

The excellent team of arbiters led by IA Sasa Jevtic, who ran this tournament in the smoothest manner possible.

Solutions to the tactics:

30.Qxc8+ Kxc8 31.Rc1+ Bc7 31...Rc5 32.Rxc5+ Qc6 33.Rxc6++– 32.Be6+ Kb8 33.Rd8+ Bxd8 34.Rc8# 1–0, M. Dezelin - R. N. Naik

27...Rxb3 28.Qg2 Qxg2+ 29.Kxg2 Rxb2+ 30.Kh3 Be5 31.Bxe5 dxe5 32.f4 Nxf4+ 33.Kg4 Rg2+ 34.Kf3 Rxa2 35.Nc6 Ra3+ 36.Kg4 Ne2 0-1, D. Dimitrijevic - D. Brankovic

23.Nxg6 hxg6 24.Rxg6+ Kf7 25.Qh5 Ke8 26.Rxe6+ Kd7 27.Rd6+ 1-0, N. Sedlak - L. Breivik

22.Ndxc4 22.Nexc4 is also correct. 22...dxc4 23.Nxc4 Nb5 24.Bxb7 Rc7 25.Nxa3 Nxa3 26.Rd1 Bg6 27.Rd8+ Kh7 28.Bf3 Nd7 29.Ra8 Nb1 30.c6 Ne5 31.b5 Nc4 32.a4 Bd3 33.a5 Nbd2 34.b6 Nxf3+ 35.gxf3 Rxc6 36.b7 1-0, M. Dezelin - N. Aleksic

19.Re8 1-0, G. Filev - M. Savic

Note: Special thanks to IA Sasa Jevtic for providing all the information.

Photos: Nebojsa Radosavljevic and Darko Radojkovic

Official tournament site

Priyadarshan Banjan is a 23-year-old club player from India. He works as an editor for ChessBase News and ChessBase India. He is a chess fanatic and an avid fan of Vishy Anand. He also maintains a blog on a variety of topics.


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bronkenstein bronkenstein 7/13/2015 03:08
Nice one, Branko!

BTW he was close to 2600 sometime around 1990
KevinC KevinC 7/12/2015 02:46
I hate when annotators leave out obvious replies, especially on captures. In the second problem, after 1...Rb3; 2.ab Bd4+; 3. Kh1 Ng3 is mate. Stronger players will see that easily, but there are probably some, who might scratch their heads.

I am a long-time NM, and every now and then, reading the annotations to a super-tournament, I have to whip out a computer because the annotator left out a critical, and not obvious, line that some 2750 can see, but most others can't.