Top 23 Most Successful Croatia Chess Players of All Time

Alejandro Ramirez Alvarez

Chess is one of the world’s oldest and most popular board games, and Croatia is home to some of the best chess players in the world. Croatia has produced many strong chess players, including two World Champions and a handful of Grandmasters.

From the time of the Soviet Union to the modern day, many of Croatia’s best chess players have earned international recognition and achieved success at the highest levels of the game. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the greatest chess players in Croatia’s history.

1. Zdenko Kožul


Zdenko Kožul is a renowned Croatian chess player who has achieved great success in his career. He has earned the title of Grandmaster, a prestigious title that is only given to the best chess players. This title is evidence of Kožul’s incredible skill and aptitude for the game.

Additionally, in 2006, he was crowned the European champion, one of the highest honors chess players can receive. Kožul is an inspiration to aspiring chess players and serves as a reminder that hard work and dedication can lead to remarkable achievements.

2. Ivan Šarić


Ivan Šarić is a highly accomplished Croatian chess grandmaster. He is renowned for his expertise in the game as well as his success in international competitions.

In 2007, he earned the title of International Master (IM), and one year later he was granted the title of Grandmaster (GM). These titles are only awarded to the most skilled chess players in the world.

In 2007, Šarić won the European Youth Chess Championship in the Under-18 category, and in 2008 he won the World Youth Chess Championship in the Under-18 category. This achievement is especially impressive as he was able to win two prestigious international titles back-to-back.

It is clear that Šarić is a master of the game who deserves to be recognized for his accomplishments.

3. Ante Brkić


Ante Brkić is a renowned chess player from Croatia. He is a Grandmaster, which is the highest level of competitive chess and is awarded to chess players who have reached an exceptionally high standard of play.

Brkić has been playing chess since he was a child and became an international master in 2003. He is a three-time Croatian champion and has participated in several international tournaments.

Brkić is also an active chess trainer and has worked with many national and international teams. He has achieved numerous awards and recognitions for his expertise in the game, most notably being awarded the title of Grandmaster in 2009.

Brkić is considered to be one of the strongest chess players from Croatia and is a popular figure within the world of competitive chess.

4. Bojan Kurajica


Bojan Kurajica is a highly accomplished chess grandmaster who hails from Croatia and Bosnia. He was raised in Split, a city in Croatia, and it was there that he first showed his incredible aptitude for the game of chess.

In 1965, he won the World Junior Championship, earning himself the International Master title. Following his impressive victory, he decided to move to Zagreb, where he enrolled in the Faculty of Philosophy to study Italian and English.

He graduated in 1972, having shown himself to be a remarkably talented and dedicated player of the game. Kurajica is a testament to the power of hard work and dedication, and his career is an inspiration to all aspiring chess players.

5. Mladen Palac


Mladen Palac is a Croatian chess player who was born in Donji Mamići, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He holds the title of Grandmaster, which was awarded to him by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) in 1993.

Palac is highly accomplished in the world of chess and has achieved numerous impressive successes. One of his most significant victories was in 1998 at the Biel Grandmaster Tournament, which he won.

His talent and skill have earned him the respect of the chess community, and he has established himself as one of the top players in the world. Palac is an inspiration to aspiring chess players everywhere, showing that hard work and dedication can lead to great success.

6. Bogdan Lalić


Bogdan Lalic is a renowned Croatian chess grandmaster. He has achieved an impressive record of an unbeaten streak of 155 games, making him one of the most accomplished chess players in the world. Lalic was born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia in 1964.

His career in chess began in 1985 when he was awarded the International Master title by the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

Three years later, in 1988, FIDE further honored him with the prestigious Grandmaster title. Lalic has maintained an impressively consistent level of performance in his chess career, and his unbeaten streak of 155 games is a testament to his skill and dedication.

He has achieved a number of important milestones in the chess world and is considered one of the world’s leading chess players.

7. Ivan Vihor


Ivan Vihor Krsnik Cohar, commonly known as Ivan Vihor, is a distinguished Croatian classical pianist and chess player.

His talents have been recognized throughout Europe, particularly with his win of the 2017 “Premio delle Arti” competition in Italy; this is the most highly-regarded piano competition in the country.

Ivan Vihor’s skill and passion for music have earned him a place among the top classical pianists in the world. Ivan Vihor’s musical career began in his native Croatia, where he studied classical piano at the Zagreb Music Academy.

After graduating, he went on to perform around Europe and compete in various piano competitions. His determination and drive paid off when he won the 2017 “Premio delle Arti” competition. In addition to his musical talents, Ivan Vihor is also an avid chess player.

He has competed in numerous chess tournaments and even won a few. His passion for the game has earned him a place among the top chess players in the world. Ivan Vihor is a living example of a person who can excel in multiple fields.

He is a gifted pianist and chess player, and his achievements demonstrate his hard work and dedication to both music and chess. His win of the 2017 “Premio delle Arti” competition is a testament to his remarkable talent and skill.

8. Krunoslav Hulak


Krunoslav Hulak was an extraordinary chess player from Croatia-Yugoslavia. He had an impressive career in the game of chess and was recognized for his achievements. In 1974, Hulak was awarded the International Master title by FIDE, the World Chess Federation.

This recognition was a great honour for him and it showed that his skills in the game of chess were highly regarded. Two years later, in 1976, Hulak was awarded the grandmaster title by FIDE.

This is the highest title a chess player can receive, and it shows that he had reached a true master level of play. The two titles together highlighted the fact that Krunoslav Hulak was a remarkable chess player from Croatia to Yugoslavia.

His achievements in the game of chess will be remembered for years to come.

9. Lara Stock

Lara Stock is a renowned Croatian chess player who has achieved the prestigious FIDE title of Woman Grandmaster.

Her achievements in the game of chess are impressive; as a child, Stock won the World Youth Chess Championship in the girls under-10 section in 2002, and the European Youth Chess Championship in the girls under-12 division in 2004.

In 2006, she was selected to play for Croatia in the Women’s Chess Olympiad, displaying her skill and dedication to the game. The stock has consistently demonstrated her commitment and talent in the game of chess, proving her worth as a Woman Grandmaster.

10. Vlatko Kovačević


Vlatko Kovačević is a renowned Croatian and Yugoslavian grandmaster of chess. He has had several impressive accomplishments throughout his career.

In 1970, he tied for 9th-11th place in the Rovinj–Zagreb tournament but still managed to beat the renowned player Bobby Fischer in their individual game. In 1975, he tied for 2nd-4th place in the Rovinj–Zagreb tournament.

His impressive streak continued when he won the Sombor tournament in 1976. That same year, he tied for 1st-3rd place in the Virovitica tournament. Thus, it is evident that Vlatko Kovačević is a highly talented and successful chess player.

11. Paula Wolf-Kalmar

Paula Wolf-Kalmar was an Austrian chess master born in Zagreb, Croatia. She was one of the most successful female chess players of her time, achieving a 5th place finish at the 1924 Meran tournament. Following the tournament, she participated in a double-round London vs.

Vienna match, where three of the participants defeated three others. This victory solidified her reputation as a formidable chess player, and Wolf-Kalmar was later named as a Women’s World Championship Challenger three times.

Her impressive career as a chess master has made her a legendary figure in the chess world, and she is still remembered today for her excellence.

12. Mato Damjanović


Mato Damjanović was a renowned Croatian chess grandmaster who was well known for representing Yugoslavia in international team events. He was the second grandmaster to come from Croatia, following Mijo Udovčić in 1964.

His accomplishments in the chess world were recognized and he was respected for his skill and dedication to the game. Damjanović was born in Croatia in 1931 and began playing chess at a young age.

He quickly developed a passion for the game and was determined to improve his skills.

He competed in many tournaments throughout his career, including the Zonal Championship of the Yugoslav Chess Federation in 1960 and the Zonal Championship of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) in 1962.

These tournaments helped him to gain recognition within the chess world and increased his fame. Damjanović eventually became a chess grandmaster in 1964, when he became the second grandmaster from Croatia after Mijo Udovčić.

This was a huge accomplishment for him and was celebrated in Croatia. He continued to compete in international chess tournaments, representing Yugoslavia in several team events.

He also was involved in many chess clubs and organizations throughout his career, such as the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Mato Damjanović was a celebrated Croatian chess grandmaster who achieved great success in the world of chess.

He was the second grandmaster to come from Croatia and represented Yugoslavia in international team events. He was dedicated to the game and his accomplishments were celebrated in Croatia and around the world.

13. Braslav Rabar

Braslav Rabar was an esteemed chess master and writer who had a profound impact on the game of chess. He was born in Croatia and was part of the Yugoslavian chess scene.

Rabar was the Yugoslavian champion in 1951, and again tied for the tournament lead in 1953, but lost a playoff match. He represented Yugoslavia in three chess Olympiads and was rewarded with five medals for his efforts.

Throughout his career, Rabar gained immense respect and admiration for his passion and dedication to the game. His influence is still felt today in the international chess scene.

14. Semka Sokolović-Bertok

Semka Sokolović-Bertok was a remarkable woman who achieved success in multiple spheres of life. She was a Bosnian and Croatian actress who was well-known and respected for her talent. Aside from her acting career, she also had a passion for chess.

As a young woman, she was a highly competitive chess player and won the Croatian Chess Juniors Championship an impressive eight times. This is a remarkable feat, and it is a testament to Sokolović-Bertok’s commitment and dedication to her passions.

She was a multitalented individual who achieved success in both the acting and chess worlds.

15. Tihomil Drezga

Tihomil Drezga was a highly accomplished Croatian chess master. Born in the city of Šibenik, Croatia, Drezga completed his secondary school education at a gymnasium in Split.

After graduating, he decided to pursue a degree in international law and pursued his studies at the prestigious Sorbonne in Paris.

During his time there, he obtained a doctorate of law, demonstrating his commitment to learning and knowledge. Drezga’s accomplishments in the field of chess were highly regarded and he was considered to be a formidable player.

He was renowned for his skill and knowledge of the game and was often seen as a mentor to other chess players.

He was also known for his high level of sportsmanship, something that was greatly appreciated by his peers. In addition to his accomplishments in the world of chess, Drezga was also a successful lawyer.

After obtaining his doctorate of law from the Sorbonne, he was able to use his legal expertise in various legal matters.

He was a highly sought-after lawyer in his hometown of Šibenik and in other cities throughout Croatia. Overall, Tihomil Drezga was a highly accomplished individual. He was a successful chess master, lawyer, and mentor.

He was also known for his high level of sportsmanship and his commitment to learning and knowledge. He will always be remembered for his achievements in the world of chess and law.

16. Antonio Radić


Antonio Radić, popularly known as animator is a Croatian YouTuber and chess player. He is well-known for his successful YouTube channel which is dedicated to chess, and for a few years, it was the most popular chess channel on the platform.

From 2018 to late 2021, agadmator’s channel was the most subscribed YouTube chess channel, until it was surpassed by GothamChess. Radić continues to produce content on his channel, and his popularity has only grown in the years since.

He is a great source of knowledge and insight for chess enthusiasts, and his videos often showcase his skill at the game.

He also regularly shares his thoughts and strategies about the game, providing viewers with useful tips and tricks that they can put to use in their very own games.

17. Mišo Cebalo


Mišo Cebalo was a Croatian chess Grandmaster who achieved great success in the game. He won the prestigious 19th World Senior Chess Championship held in Condino in 2009, which earned him further recognition.

In 2011, Cebalo was awarded the title of FIDE Senior Trainer, an honor bestowed upon experienced chess players. Cebalo had a strong foundation in chess from a very young age. His father, who was a good chess player himself, taught him the game when he was just five years old.

This early initiation into the game paid off and Cebalo went on to become a Grandmaster. His success at the 19th World Senior Chess Championship and subsequent title of FIDE Senior Trainer shows his mastery of the game.

18. Dražen Sermek

Dražen Sermek is a Croatian chess player who has achieved the highest level of recognition in the game. He was awarded the title of Grandmaster by FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs) in 1994.

Prior to this, Sermek had competed for Slovenia in many chess tournaments. Sermek has won several chess championships in Slovenia, including the Slovenian Chess Championship in 1993 and 1998.

He has also been an integral member of the Slovenian team in the Chess Olympiads of 1994, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006.

His achievements in the game of chess have been widely recognized, and he is lauded for his skill and dedication to the sport. Sermek’s success in the game of chess is a testament to his hard work and determination.

His achievements represent a level of excellence that is rarely seen in the game, and he continues to inspire others to excel and reach for their highest potential.

His status as a Grandmaster is a remarkable accomplishment, and he has set a high standard for other players of the game.

19. Andrija Fuderer


Andrija Fuderer was a highly accomplished chess player who had an extensive chess career spanning multiple countries. He was a Croatian-Belgian chess master, so his talents were recognized both in his homeland of Croatia and in Belgium, where he spent much of his life.

At the start of his chess career, Fuderer achieved a major milestone by winning the Yugoslav Junior Chess Championship in 1947. This victory was a stepping stone for his later successes, as he went on to compete in and win numerous tournaments throughout his career.

He was a formidable opponent and was widely respected for his strategic play. Federer was a member of the Croatian Chess Federation and the Belgian Chess Federation, and he achieved international recognition for his contributions to the game.

His accomplishments as a chess master have been commemorated in both Croatia and Belgium, as his legacy of excellence has continued to inspire many.

20. Mario Bertok

Mario Bertok was a remarkable figure in the chess world. He was born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, and made a name for himself in the sports journalism world, as he wrote for Sportske Novosti, a daily sports newspaper.

Additionally, he was a chess master, earning the International Master title in 1957. Bertok was also a great asset to his country, Yugoslavia. He represented them on board four at the 1960 Chess Olympiad, where he achieved an impressive record of 5=5-3.

This impressive feat was a testament to his skills as a chess master. Overall, Mario Bertok was a renowned figure in both the sports journalism and chess worlds. He was a passionate and dedicated chess master, representing his country proudly at the 1960 Chess Olympiad.

His contributions to the chess world will be remembered for years to come.

21. Ivan Nemet

Ivan Nemet was a remarkable chess player, born in Serbia in 1945. He was a Croatian, Swiss and Yugoslav Chess Champion. Nemet won the Croatian Chess Championship in 1973, becoming the first Croatian to do so since the formation of the country in 1945.

He then went on to win the Yugoslav Chess Championship in 1979, and in 1990 he became the Swiss Chess Champion. Nemet’s achievements in the world of chess were remarkable, as he was the first Croatian to win the Croatian Chess Championship in 1973, and was the only chess player to win the Yugoslav Chess Championship in 1979.

He was also the first Croatian to win the Swiss Chess Championship in 1990. Nemet was a highly respected chess player in the world of chess, and his legacy will live on.

He was an inspiration to many aspiring chess players and his achievements will be remembered for years to come. He was a great ambassador for the sport and a great example of how hard work and dedication can pay off.

22. Valentina Golubenko

Valentina Golubenko is a highly accomplished chess player with dual citizenship in Estonia and Croatia. She has earned the prestigious FIDE title of Woman Grandmaster, which is regarded as the highest level of achievement for female chess players.

Golubenko is also a former World Champion in the girls under 18 category, having won the title in 2008. She is the first and only chess player from Estonia to win a world youth chess championship, an impressive feat that has solidified her place in chess history.

Golubenko is an inspiration to young players from all over the world, and her success is a testament to her dedication and hard work.

Her accomplishments are a source of great pride for her home country of Estonia, and she continues to be a role model for aspiring chess players everywhere.

23. Luís Galego

Luís Galego is a highly accomplished Portuguese chess grandmaster. His impressive career has spanned decades, and he has represented Portugal in an impressive ten Chess Olympiads.

His skill and talent in the game is reflected by his top Elo rating of 2543, which is a testament to his ability. In addition to this, he has also been national champion five times, with his most recent win taking place in 2012.

This is an impressive achievement and shows that even with time passing, his skill and dedication still remain. Luís Galego is a shining example of excellence in the world of chess, and it is no surprise that he is held in such high esteem.


The best chess players in Croatia have proven themselves to be some of the best in the world, showing their strength and skill at various tournaments.

Their dedication and hard work have earned them many titles and accolades, making them a great example for the younger generation of chess enthusiasts.

With a strong presence in the international chess scene, Croatia is sure to be home to more world-class players who will continue to make their mark in the game.

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Alejandro Ramirez Alvarez

I am a professional chess player for over 10 years, one of the youngest Grandmasters in the world and amongst the top ranked in the western hemisphere. I have been playing chess since I was a child, and it is something that I have always been passionate about. My passion has taken me to numerous tournaments around the world where I have competed against some of the best players in the world. Through hard work and dedication, I have achieved great success at these tournaments and have become one of the youngest Grandmasters in history. My goal is to continue to improve my game and reach new heights within this sport. LinkedIn