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Kuljasevic Wins GM Norm in Dallas Print E-mail
By Davorin Kuljasevic/Jennifer Shahade   
December 21, 2007
davorinlead.jpgRay Robson made all the headlines at the start of the UTD Invitational, (December 6-14) gaining his final IM norm. This was also a historic occasion for University of Texas at Dallas Junior IM Davorin Kuljasevic. Davorin tied for first in the tournament with GM Alejandro Ramirez and earned his first GM norm. Davorin credits his victory to consistency and doing his opening homework: "Round robins require much more mental and psychological stability compared to open tournaments...I was also fortunate that I won my two White games against Robson and Jun fairly easily because they jumped right into my home preparation."

University of Texas at Dallas Invitational (December 6-14)
Final Standings

1-2. IM Davorin Kuljasevic and GM Alejandro Ramirez -7.5/11
3. GM Zviad Izoria- 7/11
4. FM Ray Robson-6/11
5-6. IM John Bartholomew and IM Jacek Stopa-5.5/11
7-8. GM Jun Zhao and IM Dmitry Schneider- 5/11
9-10. IM Salvijus Bercys Drasko Boskovic-4.5/11
11-12. GM Magesh Panchanathan and WGM Chunhong Ning- 4/11

Davorin was on a chess high note because just a week before the UTD Invitational began, his team, the Dallas Destiny won the third season of the U.S. Chess League . Davorin thought one of the secrets to the Destiny's success was the roster, "by far the most balanced in the league." In the finals, Davorin recognizes that things could have gone either way. "When Christiansen resigned in the last blitz match we were all jumping and celebrating like we won the lottery."

For the holidays, Davorin will return to his hometown Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. "I'm going to celebrate my GM norm with my friends there."

 Davorin's road to UTD began when he met Tim Redman, the founder of the UTD chess progam at the World Youth Championship in Greece in 2003. "Tim told me I could get a scholarship at UTD if I did well on the SATs. I have to admit it was a very tough decision for me, but I decided to come here because I thought it would be a nice career opportunity." Davorin is majoring in business finance and plans to apply for MBA programs when he graduates. As for his goals in chess, he says: "I don't have any goals except for having a good time playing and analyzing." It has worked for him so far!

Here are two games, annotated by Davorin  Kuljasevic himself.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4

This is currently the most popular line of Slav that leads to sharp and unbalanced positions, where a single mistake can decide the game. Needless to say, it requires a lot of home preparation.
 6...dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.0–0
The latest fashion. 10.h4 g4 11.Ne5 is a different approach.
 10...Nbd7 11.Ne5 Bg7
11...h5 is a reasonable alternative.
 12.Nxd7 Nxd7 13.Bd6
A beautiful spot for the bishop!
 13...a6 14.a4
14.e5!? from the game Bartholomew-Robson from the same tournament, is worth considering.
14...e5 15.Bg4
The sharpest possibility, which I've analyzed extensively before the tournament.
15.d5 is another option.
15...exd4 16.e5
Things are starting to get interesting!
The best move. 16...dxc3 doesn't work because of 17.e6 Ne5 (or 17...Nf6 18.Bh5 Nxh5 19.Qxh5 Qf6 20.exf7+ Kd8 21.Rad1 and Black won't be able to survive this.) 18.e7 Qxe7 19.Bxe7 Kxe7 (if 19...cxb2 then 20.Qd6!) 20.bxc3 with advantage for White.; The attempt to get rid of the bishop 16...Nxe5 fails to 17.Qxd4! when 17...Nf3+ doesn't work in the view of 18.gxf3 Bxd4 19.Rfe1+ and black has to give up his queen to protect the king.]
 A very unpleasant move, after which my opponent sank into thought for more than one hour! Black is hard pressed to find a way to get rid of the bishop on d6 and...
... he fails. The only move is 17...Nxe5! 18.Bxb7 Qxd6 19.Bxa8 0–0 when Black is down a rook, but he has a massive pawn center that compensates for his material deficit. Before the game, I knew that there would be very small chance that my opponent would find this over the board, so I wasn't surprised he went for the 17... Bxf3.
 18.Qxf3 Nxe5 19.Qd5!
The key move, after which Black's position is hopeless. His king is just too weak.
19...dxc3 20.Rfe1 cxb2 21.Rad1
21.Qc6+ looks tempting but after 21...Qd7 22.Qxa8+ Qd8 White doesn't have more than a perpetual.
 21...b1Q 22.Rxb1 Rc8
22...Ra7 looks a bit better but after the simple 23.Rxe5+ Bxe5 24.Qxe5+ Kd7 25.Bxc5 it's just over.
 23.axb5 axb5 24.Rbd1
After this, Black cannot avoid heavy material losses.
24...Qd7 25.Rxe5+ Bxe5 26.Qxe5+ Qe6 27.Qxh8+ Kd7 28.Bxc5+ Kc6 29.Qd4 Re8 30.Bb4 and Black resigned. 1–0

1.e4 c5 2.b3
During the tournament I kind of got a reputation of a theoretical expert so it's no wonder that Zviad resorted to this unusual line. However, I was aware that it used to be a dangerous weapon of his countryman Gelashvili, so he was probably familiar with some of his ideas. 2...d6 3.Bb2 Nf6 I think Black should play this move as soon as possible in order to put the pressure on the e4 pawn.
4.Bb5+ Nbd7 5.d3 g6 6.f4 Bg7 7.Bxd7+ Bxd7 8.Nf3 0–0 9.0–0 b5
In my opinion, black has achieved a favorable Closed Sicilian type of position. Naturally, I wanted to expand on the queenside. 10.c4 bxc4 Opening the b-file to create some counterplay.
11.bxc4 Qa5 12.Bc3 Qa4
I was trying to create as much counterplay on the queenside as possible.
13.Qc1 Rab8 14.Nbd2 Ne8 15.Bxg7 Nxg7 16.Nb1
I thought 16.f5 was not very dangerous because of 16...gxf5 17.Nh4 fxe4 18.Nxe4 f5
Trying to create some counterplay in the center as well.
 17.Nc3 Qa5 18.g3 Bc6 19.Rf2
In the case of 19.Nd5 Bxd5 20.exd5 Black has no problems after 20...e6.
19...Rb7 20.Nd2
A logical attempt to close the b-file.
20...Rfb8 21.Nb3 Qb4 22.Rc2?!
22.Rb1 looks better to me. Both 22...fxe4 (and 22...Ne6 ) 23.Nxe4 Nf5 24.g4 Nd4 25.f5 gxf5 26.gxf5 Kh8 should provide Black with enough counterplay.
A serious inaccuracy.More dangerous was 22...fxe4 23.Nxe4 Nf5 (or 23...a5 )
White goes for a forced sequence. In the case of 23.Rb1 a4 24.Nd2 Qa5 25.Rxb7 Rxb7 Black would still retain a small initiative.
 23...Bxd5 24.cxd5 a4 25.Rc4 Qb5 26.Nd2 e6 27.dxe6 Nxe6 28.Nf3 Qb1! 29.Rc2
The only move. After 29.Rxb1 Rxb1 White doesn't have a good way to defend the a-pawn.
 29...a3 30.Kf2 Qxc2+ 31.Qxc2 Rb2 32.Rc1 fxe4?
A big mistake. I thought the knight endgame would be winning so I went straight into it, without considering other possibilities.
32...c4! was a much better attempt to win. White might be able to hold but it wouldn't be easy.
 33.dxe4 Rxc2+ 34.Rxc2 Rb2 35.Rxb2 axb2 36.Nd2 c4 37.Nb1 Nc5 38.Ke3 Na4 39.Kd2 Kf7 40.Kc2 Ke6 41.Na3
 I underestimated White's counterplay with Na3-b5-d4.
41...d5 doesn't help because of 42.e5 followed by Nb5.
 42.Nb5 Kd7 43.f5
 White created a defended passed pawn and now the position is dead drawn because both sides will be unable to make any progress. 43...g5 44.g4 h6 45.h3 Ke7 46.Na3 Kd7 47.Nb5 Ke7 48.Na3 Kd7 ½–½