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Monday, February 16, 2015

Dragoljub Velimirovic

   Velimirovic was born in Valjevo, Yugoslavia on 12 May 1942 and was taught how to play chess at the age of seven by his mother, Jovanka Velimirovic (1910–1972), who was one of Yugoslavia's leading women chess players before World War II. He lived in Belgrade from 1960.
     The Yugoslav Chess Championship was a tournament with a great tradition. It was a very strong event especially in the period 1945-1991, when it represented players from six federal Republics, today independent countries. Since 1992 the Yugoslav championship as such no longer exists. Since 2003, the Yugoslav Chess Championship was renamed to Championship of Serbia and Montenegro. Starting in 2007, after Montenegro left union with Serbia, it is the Serbian Championship. Serbia is a successor of former Yugoslavia.
     Velimirovic was awarded the IM in 1972 and the GM title in 1973. He won the Yugoslav Championship three times and was selected for the Yugoslav national team many times. In World championship cycles, he was the winner of Zonal tournaments in Praia da Rocha 1978 and Budva 1981 and participated in three Interzonal tournaments: Rio de Janeiro 1979, Moscow 1982 and in Szirák 1987, but was never able to qualify for the Candidates.
     Dragoljub Velimirović passed away on May 22, 2014, at the age of 72 in Belgrade after a prolonged illness. He was cremated and buried in the New Cemetery in Belgrade. The New Cemetery is also the burial place of Yugoslav great Gligorić who was buried there in the Alley of the Greats in 2012.
     Always popular with the spectators, Velimirović was noted for his attacking style which resulted in many games filled with spectacular sacrifices and his style was often compared to that of Mikhail Tahl. The Velimirovic Attack in the Sicilian Sicilian, a violent attacking variation, 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Be3 Be7 8.Qe2 ... intending 9.0-0-0, is named after him.
     He loved confusion on the board and being an optimist, he always believed he could find an escape from a bad position. Bobby Fischer once described him as having "too much talent." The Man with Too Much Chess Talent was the title of an article in the Huffington Post in 2010 by GM Lubosh Kavalek. Kasparov wrote: “True, at times in Velimirovic’s spectacular blows there was more ‘noise’ than novelty and strength.” There was no doubt his reckless style hindered his reaching the very top level, but chess fans can be grateful he placed a higher emphasis on slashing attacks than points.

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