Experiencing Utopia – the Split Open 2013

by ChessBase
8/28/2013 – Sun, sea, a Mediterranean holiday and tough games – that's what the participants of the 3rd International Chess Open Split enjoyed from 10-18 August, 2013. 173 players from 21 different countries (including ten GMs, eleven IMs, two WGMs, two WIMs, nine FMs and three WFMs) took part in the event. Everybody emerged a winner in Split, as WGM Iva Videnova shows us in her big pictorial report.

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Don’t split chess and holidays – play in the Split Open!

By WGM Iva Videnova

The city of Split is situated in Dalmatia region, on the Eastern Coast of Adriatic Sea, part of Mediterranean Basin.

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Normally, in open tournaments the top seeded player rarely claims the top spot at the end of the event. However, the highest rated GM Davorin Kuljasevic (Croatia) did just that, winning the third edition of Split Open with the impressive score of 8.0 points out of nine rounds, with only two draws and a performance 2715!

IM Vojko Mencinger (second place), GM Davorin Kuljasevic (first), GM Ante Brkic (third)

The greatest surprise of the tournament was an experienced IM Vojko Mencinger from Slovenia. He kept the tournament tense until the very end. After eight rounds Kuljasevic and Mencinger were leading with seven points, and the direct encounter between them would decide the title. Still, Kuljasevic prevailed with the white pieces and grabbed the Winner’s Cup.

Nevertheless, Mencinger’s uncompromising style of play (seven wins, two losses and no draw), enabled him to finish second on tie-breaks in a five-way tie. GM Ante Brkic (Croatia) got third after drawing the French IM Vincent Colin in the last round.

Final top ranking (after nine rounds)

Rk. SNo Name FED RtgI Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3  +/-
1 1 GM Kuljaševic Davorin CRO 2577 8.0 45.0 56.0 41.0 14.1
2 15 IM Mencinger Vojko SLO 2399 7.0 42.0 54.5 37.0 12.2
3 2 GM Brkic Ante CRO 2575 7.0 42.0 54.0 38.0 2.7
4 4 GM Bosiocic Marin CRO 2563 7.0 39.5 50.0 34.5 -0.3
5 18 IM Bilobrk Franjo CRO 2378 7.0 39.0 50.0 36.5 15.3
6 14 IM Colin Vincent FRA 2402 7.0 38.0 49.0 35.5 10.7
7 11 IM Kadric Denis BIH 2458 6.5 42.0 54.0 38.0 11.7
8 3 GM Šaric Ante CRO 2565 6.5 41.5 52.5 33.0 -9.4
9 12 IM Lyrberg Patrik SWE 2438 6.5 40.0 50.5 35.5 4.3
10 20 WGM Szczepkowska-H. K. POL 2371 6.5 39.5 50.5 33.5 5.1
11 16 IM Ðurovic Goran CRO 2394 6.5 38.0 50.5 34.0 0.7
12 13 IM Šale Srdan CRO 2409 6.5 38.0 50.0 35.0 10.3
13 5 GM Zakhartsov Viacheslav RUS 2560 6.5 38.0 48.0 34.0 -9.6
14 21 FM Srbiš Jurica CRO 2368 6.5 37.0 49.0 33.0 11.7
15 56 MK Plenca Jadranko CRO 2138 6.5 34.0 43.5 30.0 25.5
16 48 Rudakov Aleksandr RUS 2182 6.5 33.5 43.5 28.5 26.9
17 9 GM Kurajica Bojan BIH 2516 6.0 43.0 55.0 34.5 -9.0
18 10 GM Dražic Siniša SRB 2473 6.0 42.0 54.5 37.0 -2.0
19 6 GM Dobrov Vladimir RUS 2537 6.0 41.5 52.5 36.5 -8.7
20 22 Zakhartsov Vladimir RUS 2324 6.0 41.0 52.5 33.0 17.0
21 53 Van der Auweraert E. NED 2155 6.0 41.0 51.5 32.0 40.8
22 30 FM Blažeka Matej CRO 2282 6.0 40.5 52.0 33.0 26.9
23 8 GM Jovanic Ognjen CRO 2519 6.0 40.0 51.5 33.0 -11.5
24 7 GM Martinovic Saša CRO 2526 6.0 39.5 50.5 36.0 -1.8
25 19 FM Bontempi Piero ITA 2376 6.0 39.5 50.0 33.0 0.4
26 26 WGM Videnova Iva BUL 2305 6.0 38.0 49.0 32.0 1.4
27 36 Ashiku Franc ALB 2241 6.0 38.0 48.5 31.0 12.4
28 39 NM Curic Dražen CRO 2231 6.0 37.5 48.0 30.5 13.5
29 28 FM Afanasiev Vadim RUS 2297 6.0 36.0 46.5 31.5 8.1
30 47 Blom Vincent NED 2184 6.0 35.5 45.5 30.0 24.1
31 64 MK Blažeka Damjan CRO 2096 6.0 35.5 45.0 28.0 27.3
32 46 Skreno Vladimir SVK 2189 6.0 33.0 44.5 28.5 6.2
33 29 FM Piškur Mitja SLO 2291 6.0 32.5 42.0 27.5 -20.5
34 65 Unander Matts SWE 2094 6.0 32.0 41.5 29.0 17.4

The champion's key to success: the Botvinnik formula

(Davorin walked 30-40 minutes to the playing hall before the start of every round)

When asked about the secret of his tournament victory, Davorin half-jokingly replied: “It was Botvinnik’s formula!” He said that the first day, while he was walking to the playing venue, a friend drove by and asked him:

"Hey Davorin, come on, I’ll give you a ride to the tournament."

"Thanks a lot, but I prefer to walk."

"Are you crazy? In this heat? Come on, get in the car!"

"It's Botvinnik’s recipe: I go walking!"

Davorin's friend in the car shakes his head in disbelief and drives on. But when after the seventh round Davorin was the sole leader with 6.5 points his friend realized that walking was not such a bad idea at all, and in true Petrosian style decided to admit his mistake: "Honestly, the first day I thought you were crazy, but this Botvinnik’s recipe actually makes sense!"

The beginning of every round (except the last one) was at 18.00h (6 p.m.) CEST. Thus, the schedule gave players an opportunity to enjoy summer, seaside and the beautiful city throughout the day.

Žnjan Beach – just trying to pronounce it is not an easy task

With its pristine beaches and crystal clear water, the Croatian Adriatic Sea (Croatian: Jadransko More) is among the most popular European destinations for summer vacations. Even the famous pop star Beyonce was enchanted by its natural beauty when she visited it in 2011. Sitting in a bikini at a Dalmatian beach, she said “I am experiencing Utopia…”

Split is an ancient city with a rich history. The Roman Emperor Diocletian himself lived here (third – fourth century AD), in his own palace. He was the first Roman Emperor who voluntarily retired and gave up the throne. After a few years Senators came to Diocletian’s Palace and asked the former Emperor to come back to Rome and help the Empire rise again. Diocletian showed them his palace and said he could not leave the beautiful garden which he had created by his own hands.

An artistic interpretation of Diocletian on the wall of a very old house

Diocletian’s Palace has been on the World Heritage list of UNESCO since 1979

Although Split has only about 200 000 inhabitants, it is among the cities with most successful athletes per capita in the world. Some of the most internationally renowned include:

  • Toni Kukoc – basketball player, three-time NBA champion 1996-98 with Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls;
  • Goran Ivanisevic – winner of Wimbledon 2001, with a wild-card;
  • Ivano Balic – world’s best handball player in 2003 and 2006;
  • Branka Vlasic – two-time World Champion in high jump in 2007 and 2009 etc.

But the most popular sport here is by all means football. You can see graffiti of the 102-year-old football club “Hajduk” (Split) on almost every wall in the city.

Gregory of Nin (Croatian: Grgur Ninski) – Medieval bishop of Nin, who introduced the Croatian language into the church services. Until then they had been held only in Latin. Legend has it that if one touches his toe and makes a wish, it will come true… that’s why it’s always crowded around the monument.

Croatians are masters in cooking sea-food – and you can choose your dinner while it’s fresh

Lavender in different forms … you can smell it in the air everywhere

Hard to guess what this is, isn’t it? Actually, handmade and hand-engraved irons

Dalmatia is not famous for cats but actually for … Dalmatian dogs. The gracious black and white “chess breed” has its roots back in Dalmatia in the early 18th century. Unfortunately, the only dog of this kind I saw in Split had run away too fast, so my camera couldn’t capture it.

Unlike the constantly high temperature outside, inside the playing hall the heat was reduced by the air-conditioning to about 20°C. But after a few hours it felt more like 40°C, especially when the crowd gathered to watch exciting game-conclusions.

Always crowded around 1st board – IM Denis Kadric faces GM Vladimir Dobrov

1st board GM Davorin Kuljasevic – FM Jurica Srbis (Croatian champion under 19)

GM Ante Brkic (third place) and pokerface IM Goran Djurovic


Denis Kadric, a young talent from Bosna and Herzegovina, will be fighting for European U18 title in a month; FM Matej Blazeka (Croatia) finished with 6/9 and gained 27 Elo points

13-year-old talent Jadranko Plenca from Croatia finished with 6.5/9 and many GMs behind him

14-year-old Emilia Kaniewska (Poland) finished with 5.0/9, adding 61 ELO points to her rating

WGM Karina Szczepkowska-Horowska (Poland) – best female player

1965 World Youth Champion U20 GM Bojan Kurajica is a Split native,
but has been playing for Bosnia and Herzegovina for many years

IM Srdjan Sale (Croatia), the co-author of the Basman-Sale Variation
in the Sicilian Defense (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5)

Usually, when a chess tournament is over there are a few happy players (who won a cup, a prize, or a norm) and many others who go home not satisfied with their performance. From Split, somehow, everybody leaves in a good mood. One has enjoyed the seaside, another the night life or the Old Town… Everyone finds something for themselves and, as the statistics show, comes back next year.

Your reporter WGM Iva Videnova


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