Croatian Chess Player Ivan Šarić is European Champion!

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The best Croatian chess player defeated Czech David Navara in a duel held in Batumi, Georgia

Split native Ivan Šarić is the new European chess champion. At the European Championship in Batumi in Georgia, Šarić was better than 302 competitors from 34 countries and won with 8.5 points from 11 matches. Along with the victory of Zdenko Kožul at the same competition in 2006, this triumph is the biggest success of Croatian chess in history, Mateo Ivić wrote for on March 29.

There were 135 grandmasters at the tournament, and Ivan was ranked 26th. He won 8 matches, drew in 2 and lost only 1. A real drama took place in the last round when Šarić was 5th on the board. He went up against David Navar, a young Czech, one of the biggest stars of chess in the world. They both needed to win for the title, but also depended on results from other matches.

Ivan made a great opening and created a small but lasting advantage. At one point it looked like the match would be a draw. But Šarić found a brilliant plan to continue on to victory, took the opposing bishop in exchange for two pawns and with perfect technique ended the game. After nearly six hours of play, Navara had to shake the hand of the Split grandmaster. He did depend on the Sjugirov-Wojtaszek match to end in a draw in order to become champion. After a marathon struggle this is exactly what happened and Šarić became European champion, but also the most successful Croatian chess player of all time. Ivan Šarić is the Croatian champion, was previously junior champion of Europe and the world, and now he added his European title in senior competition.

Ivan began playing chess as a five year old and ‘exploded’ in his teenage years. Very quickly he outgrew the younger competition, and became a grandmaster at 18. He soon went on to junior champion of Europe and world. Privately, he is very quiet and withdrawn, and with his wife Zrinka, also a chess player, has a daughter Roza.

But at the table he is a different man. From the start of his career he was known as the ‘baby-face killer,’ as a Split chess player named him. Ivan plays an aggressive, ‘wild,’ knockdown chess. Peaceful draws don’t exist for him, and the first and basic idea was always – attack on the enemy king. “I play wild positions as they make me feel safe and I play them best. I like to attack, I have done so ever since I play chess. I have my flaws, and that’s poor actualization of advantage,” he told us once in a conversation. But as years go by, the flaws are being corrected, and this title is best proof.

Šarić was born in Split, and has been a part of the Rijeka Liburnija club for years. His father Branko, who introduced him to chess and escorted him to tournaments despite many troubles faced commonly by athletes in Croatia, leads a chess school in the Brda Club in Split. “There is on money that can replace this feeling, that’s all I can say,” Branko Šarić told us in tears.

Translated from 24sata, for the original click here.


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