The Chess World loses one of its most popular Grandmasters
by Frank A. Niro, Chess Journalists of America

“Not only have the floods in Serbia had their tolls, but also very sad news came today: GM Dragoljub Velimirovic passed away on May 22, 2014 at the age of 72. I hope it is the last bad news coming from that direction for some time.” These halting words of Turkish Grandmaster Suat Atalik were what I saw when I opened my Facebook page this evening. Serbian GM Velimirovic, known for his attacking style and the variation of the Sicilian Defense bearing his name, was a popular player among chess fans as well as his peers throughout his 65-year playing career.

Velimirovic was the son of Yugoslavian Women’s chess champion Jovanka Velimirović, who started taking him to chess tournaments at the age of 7. Despite the shift in government politics in his home country, he lived in Belgrade since 1960 and died a citizen of the Republic of Serbia.

He won the Yugoslavian chess championship on three occasions and was awarded the Grandmaster title in 1973. He won two silver medals at the Nice Olympiad of 1974 (individual and team) and participated in three Interzonal tournaments as part of the world championship cycle.

His first recorded use of the Velimirovic Attack in the Sicilian Defense was in the 1962 Yugoslavian championship against Aleksander Bradvarevic, but it was not until 1965 when he employed his trademark 9.0-0-0 against Peter Dely. As seen in the latter game starting with 27.Rxd4, his endgame play could also be impressive.

Velimirovic, D – Bradvarevic, Aleksander [B89]
YUG-ch Vrnjacka Banja (5), 1962

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Be3 Be7 8.Qe2

8…a6 9.Bb3 Na5 10.0–0 b5 11.Rad1 Qc7 12.f4 Nxb3 13.cxb3 Bb7 14.f5 e5 15.Nf3 Nxe4 16.Nxe4 Bxe4 17.Ng5 Bxg5 18.Bxg5 d5 19.f6 0–0 20.Qg4 Qc5+ 21.Rf2 Rfe8 22.Be3 Qf8 23.Bc5 h5 24.Qg5 1–0

Velimirovic, D – Dely, Peter [B89]
Belgrade (2), 1965

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Be3 Be7 8.Qe2 0–0 9.0–0–0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Qa5 11.e5 dxe5 12.Qxe5 Qxe5 13.Bxe5 b6 14.f3 Bb7 15.Nb5 a6 16.Nd6 Bc6 17.Bd3 Nd7 18.Bg3 Nc5 19.c4 f5 20.Bc2 f4 21.Bf2 Rad8 22.Bxc5 bxc5 23.Ne4 Bxe4 24.Bxe4 Bf6 25.Kc2 Rb8 26.b3 Bd4 27.Rxd4 cxd4 28.Kd3 Rfd8 29.Rc1 a5 30.c5 Rb4 31.c6 Kf7 32.Rc5 Ra8 33.a4 Rxb3+ 34.Kxd4 Rb4+ 35.Ke5 Ke7 36.Bd3 Rd8 37.Bc4 Rc8 38.Bxe6 Rc7 39.Rxa5 Rb2 40.Bd5 Rxg2 41.h4 g5 42.hxg5 Rxg5+ 43.Kxf4 Kf6 44.Rb5 Re7 45.Be4 Rgg7 46.Bf5 Ra7 47.a5 Rgc7 48.Be4 Ra6 49.Rh5 Rca7 50.Rh6+ Ke7 51.c7 1–0

The Velimirovic attack remains fashionable today and has been utilized by many top players including former World Champion Viswanathan Anand. It has been a staple among the world’s elite correspondence masters for decades because of its many sharp lines and double-edged variations.

U.S. National Master Dennis Monokroussos, a frequent lecturer on chess openings, described a topical line in the Velimirovic Attack as follows: “In the Velimirovic Attack against the Classical Sicilian, White launches his pieces into the center and turns to a kingside attack, seemingly without caring how many of them are en prise at any given moment. White’s characteristic set-up makes a strong aesthetic impression, and often his concluding attack does as well, yet time after time Black has proven to have sufficient resources to hold the balance – even if they are found after a painful loss.”

Following are three positions from GM Dragoljub Velimirovic’s games displaying his tactical prowess. Rest in peace, Grandmaster Velimirovic.

Velimirovic, D – Ciric, Dragoljub
Belgrade, 1963

White mates in 2 moves

Velimirovic, D – Matulovic, Milan
Titograd, 1965

White mates in 4 moves

Velimirovic, D – Sofrevski, Jovan
Titograd, 1965

White mates in 8 moves

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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