Dragoljub Velimirović, 1942-2014

  • FM MikeKlein
  • on 5/23/14, 12:49 PM.

Serbian Grandmaster Dragoljub Velimirović died recently at the age of 72, as reported on Twitter by the Serbian publishing company Chess Informant.

Born in Valjevo, Yugoslavia (now Serbia), Velimirović represented his home country in six different Chess Olympiads from 1974-1990. In his first outing, he won silver for both his team and himself. That squad was led by legendary GM Svetozar Gligorić, who passed away less than two years ago.

"He was a truly funny guy," said Josip Asik, chess journalist and CEO of Chess Informant. "He was often telling stories that would gather everyone around."

GM Dragoljub Velimirović (images courtesy Josip Asik)

He also won a silver at the World Team Championship in 1989. Gligorić's team accolades continued at the European Team Championships, where he won three individual and two team medals in four attempts. He won many tournaments within Yugoslavia in cities like Nikšić, Belgrade, Budva and Novi Sad, and three Zonal Tournaments, though he never got past the Interzonals to make it to the Candidates Matches.

The World Championship did come calling in 1981, as he seconded GM Viktor Korchnoi in Merano, Italy in the rematch with GM Anatoly Karpov.

Velimirović (left) playing with GM Ljubomir Ljubojević

His nickname was "The Boss."

"Everyone called him that," Asik said. "Like a sign of respect among chess players."

The grandmaster will live on forever thanks to the opening bearing his name, the Velimirović Attack, a variation in the Sicilian where White castles queenside with aggressive intentions. The namesake opening befitted his overall style. Here it is in action:

To show what esteem great modern attackers had of him, "Velimirovic" was the ICC handle used by GM Alexander Morozevich.

Here the real Velimirović used a different setup to defeat a frequent Olympiad teammate. Instead of sacrificing a knight on f5, he went the more traditional route and plopped one on d5. Velimirović then offered a rook and bishop to make up for the "lack" of ingenuity.

Back to his namesake opening, there are fewer sacrifices here, except the queen at the end. The final position is quite appealing.

Sometimes, his knights were sacked for long-term positional gain. You'd think his opponents would have been ready by now:

Velimirović got as high as 2575 in the mid-1980s and still remained above 2400 at the time of his death. He won the Yugoslav National Championship three times, with the first and third coming 27 years apart. His final tournaments were played in 2011, where he competed in the Belgade Cup and Serbian Cup.

He is survived by his wife; other family is not known. Velimirović's mother Jovanka (1910-1972) was a leading female player in Yugoslavia.

According to Asik, his latest student was GM Aleksandar Indjic, the current Serbian champion.

There will be a ceremony in his honor on May 26, 2014.

11661 reads 28 comments
10 votes


  • 2 years ago


    A great player from an age of true "poets" of CHESS. This period began with BOTVINNIK and carried through to KASPAROV. SMYSLOV, TAL, BRONSTEIN, and GLIGORIC,and LJUBOJEVIC, VELIMIROVIC'S contryman, these guys were cut from a differnt cloth...the game was different then.

    His impact is simply amazing, and it incompasses not only the great games he played but his input and contributions to opening theory as well.

    In the end its what we do with the time we are given that matters most and he did was enormous and will influence people for as long as people continue to play the game of Chess. What a legacy! 

  • 2 years ago


    Rest in peace GM Velimirovic, you will allways be remembered. Grateful to have met you on, very unique person and fantastic player.

  • 2 years ago


    Rest in peace.

  • 2 years ago



  • 2 years ago


    Great attacking games from a great player. R.I.P

  • 2 years ago


    Почивај у миру.

  • 2 years ago


    Great games. ...

  • 2 years ago


    wonderful games. 一路走好

  • 2 years ago


    Beautiful games. Sorry to see him go......way too soon. Rest in peace.

  • 2 years ago


    R.I.P To the Legend

  • 2 years ago


    Rest in Peace, GM. Thank you for the legacy of your great attacking games and the Velimirovic Attack in the Sozin Sicilian. Also, thanks for the g4 attack in the Alekhine's defense.

  • 2 years ago


    Pocivaj u miru legendo i nek ti je večna slava.

    Rest in peace legend.

  • 2 years ago


    Beautiful games and what a superb player. Rest in peace.

  • 2 years ago


    R.I.P,great player.

  • 2 years ago



  • 2 years ago


    Impressive to play at such a high level for so many years.

  • 2 years ago


    May Caissa smile on you.

  • 2 years ago


    rest in peace sir

  • 2 years ago


    RIP, GM Velimirovic

    On a VERY short list of one of the greatest and most imaginative attacking players ever.

  • 2 years ago

    CM ChessFrois

    Descanse em paz, 

    Dragoljub Velimirović

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