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GM Davor Palo on Winning Danish Chess Championship

User Rating: / 31
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
by GM Davor Palo

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My name is Davor Palo. It's entirely possible that many readers here at haven't heard of me, and I can only blame myself for that, if you will. At 20 years of age, I retired from chess. By then I was already a GM, so naturally this invited some questions. Even non-chess players have a hard time understanding a decision like that. I would say that it was a combination of things. A surprising number of chess players "switched" to poker in the last decade, and many did it successfully. Many of them found it difficult to excel at both at the same time, however. I didn't even bother trying to do both at the same time, but then again, it wasn't the only reason. I've always thought of chess as a nice hobby, and I can recommend it to all people. However, I'm not sure I can say the same thing about trying to make living by playing chess. It's not that I had any major setbacks in that sense, and the respect you enjoy from being a good player is a pleasure. One international master remarked that whenever he sees a player make a comeback to chess after a long break, they've always gained some weight in the meantime! I'm not any different in that respect, though this in itself is proof that playing chess means burning some serious energy!

As you have already figured out, this article revolves around some kind of comeback of mine. What was bugging me from time to time is that I never won the Danish Championships crown, though actually I only took a shot three times in my short career. For a small nation like Denmark (5.6 million people) the opposition is pretty strong. I was a runner up in 2003 (17 years old at the time) to Peter Heine Nielsen, who has only distanced himself from Danish chess since then.

Since I wasn't even a member of any clubs for a few years, I decided to call the chairman of Skanderborg Skakklub, Anders Haarup. This was sometime in 2012. He was much more interested in me playing for the first team, Team Nordea Skanderborg. Here's an interesting note. When I quit chess in 2006, we barely had any players rated above 2000, and now we had possibly the best team in the top league. While I'm not sure how much credit I deserve for this kind of development, I believe this is partly what creates chess culture on a larger scale as well. It's easier to follow in the footsteps of someone else.
Nordea Team

To make a long story short, we had our ups and downs, but eventually took the Xtracon league. This was simply huge for a small town like Skanderborg. Everybody agrees that physical stamina is important in chess, but I realized that being USED to this kind of mental task of playing chess was far more important, so I was simply tired after every game. Thus I knew where the main challenge would be - in the Danish Champs.

The field consisted of five GM's, four IM's and one guy who qualified. Sune Berg Hansen was the natural favourite. Our Senior World Champion Jens Kristiansen also took part. For the second time in the history of the event, it was possible to bet on the event through Danske Spil. I didn't take advantage of this possibility, but in my opinion this kind of thing is very welcome for the promotion of chess.

After winning my first two games, I was playing Sune in round three. I'm sure many people felt that this could be the kind of decisive game of the tournament. In the end it wasn't anything like that, but I surprised everyone somewhat by winning it. After a weak middlegame of the tourney I found myself in joint lead with Helgi Dam Ziska, both of us having 5/7. We were to play in Round 8. Ziska is a promising young IM from Faroe Islands. With 1,5/2 he'd secure himself a GM norm, and he was playing white against Kristiansen in the last round, who was obviously struggling, while I was playing black against the solid GM Lars Schandorff, who could also catch up. The situation demanded that I go for it. Here's the game with brief notes:

GM Davor Palo (2551) - IM Helgi Dam Ziska (2461), 1-0

A sweet finish. This felt like rising from the dead or something. I finished the job with a draw against Schandorff in last round. The moments of victory were really sweet, comparable with the day when I secured my third GM-norm. Those moments are worth fighting for. To be honest, I don't think that I'm making a big comeback. I enjoy coaching and my other hobbies more than playing itself.

Final standings:

1. GM Palo Davor 2545 6.5
2. IM Ziska Helgi Dam 2461 6
3. GM Schandorff Lars 2508 5.5
4. GM Rasmussen Allan Stig 2500 5
5-7. IM Andersen Mads 2483, GM Hansen Sune Berg 2559 and IM Antonsen Mikkel 2441 4.5
8. IM Pedersen Christian Kyndel 2445 3.5
9-10. GM Kristiansen Jens 2434 and Akdag Dara 2254 2.5

Video from the event:

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 May 2013 )
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