Dragoljub Velimirovic was a former Yugoslav – Serbian, chess grandmaster whose international career was handicapped by political intrigues and his outspoken temperament. During the heyday of the USSR as the greatest national chess power, the former Yugoslavia was capable of running the Soviet Union a good second. Dragoljub Velimirovic posed a real threat to the men from Moscow.
Velimirovic was born in 1942 to a prominent family from Valjevo, in the former Yugoslavia. He was introduced to chess at the age of seven by his mother, Jovanka Velimirovic, one of Yugoslavia’s leading female chess players. He died at the age 72, being one of the last players to develop a system or strategy that is so inventive it bears its creator’s name. It is a feat that is unlikely to be repeated in the modern era, when computer-based games and databases so thoroughly dominate competition that it is almost impossible to come up with something new. That does not mean that players were more talented or courageous in the decades when Velimirovic was in his prime. Velimirovic, who became a grandmaster in 1973, was never among the 20 top-ranked players in the world. And that was when there were only 200 or so grandmasters; today, there are about 2400.