Dragoljub Velimirovic used to be one of the world’s most feared attackers, always looking for the impossible. His imaginative play was compared to the colorful world champion Mikhail Tal’s razzle-dazzle. His playing style was unique, daring and often falling off the edge. He made risky moves and so many of them that you wondered how much punishment his chess pieces could take. He loved to create confusion on the chessboard, always believing he could find a beautiful escape from a bad situation. He had enough talent to pull it off, perhaps “too much talent ” as Bobby Fischer once put it when we discussed the play of the Serbian grandmaster and champion.
At 68, Velimirovic doesn’t seem to slow down. Still teasing and provoking, he took part in the Czech Coal Match in the spa resort of Marianske Lazne last month and was awarded a magnificent glass trophy for his entertaining play. He was a member of the veteran team that lost to the young ladies, the “Snowdrops,” 14 to 18.
Velimirovic, who had opening lines named after him, always thrived on sharp play. For almost four decades, the Serbian grandmaster countered the Alekhine defense by charging his pawns forward as far and as quickly as they could go. They were like soldiers coming from the trenches in a big wave, huffing and puffing and dying one after another. He played the same way against the Lithuanian grandmaster Viktorija Cmilyte, one of the world’s top women players. When three from the Four Pawn Attack disappeared, Velimirovic used the last one to entomb the black king. Cmilyte refuted his reckless play with marvelous counterpunches and was expected to win. But in situations like that Velimirovic is always dangerous. Here is the dramatic game:
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