- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Great players leave a double legacy — the games they play and the players they influence. One can see that in spades in the career of the fine Serbian GM Dragoljub Velimirovic, who passed away late last month at the age of 72.

A brilliant attacking player, Velimirovic earned perhaps the most enduring monument the game has to offer — one of the most popular attacking variations in the Sicilian Defense (the “Velimirovic Attack’) recognizes his pioneering research and over-the-board triumphs in the line.

The grandmaster, nicknamed “The Boss,” played for the strong Yugoslavian Olympiad team six times between 1974 and 1990, and won the Yugoslav national championship three times.

He was part of a stellar generation of stars that included the late Svetozar Gligoric and Borislav Ivkov who made Yugoslavia one of the strongest chessplaying nations of the Cold War.

Velimirovic was also a respected coach and teacher, serving as second to Swiss GM Viktor Korchnoi in his second title match against world champion Anatoly Karpov in Merano, Italy in 1981.

Velimirovic - Ljubojevic after 13. Bg5
Velimirovic - Ljubojevic after 13. Bg5 more >

The old Yugoslavia was famous for producing attacking players and for its team rosters with names that challenged even the greatest of proofreaders. Today’s first game features Velimirovic battling fellow Serbian great GM Ljubomir Ljubojevic in a scintillating game taken from the country’s 1972 national championship. On the White side of a Najdorf Sicilian, Velimirovic offers a pretty standard-issue knight sacrifice on d5 to open up the center. It’s the follow-up where White shows his real attacking chops.

Thus: 11. Rhe1 Bb7 12. Nd5!? (Qg3 offered an easier path to a slight edge) Nxd5!? (Black also can risk 12…exd5!? 13. Nf5 h6 14. exd5 hxg5 15. Rxe7+ Kf8 16. fxg5 Bxd5, with an unclear position) 13. exd5, and now 13…Bxd5? is met by 14. Qxd5!! exd5 15. Rxe7+ Kf8 16. Bf5 Rd8 17. Be6!.

Ljubojevic tries instead 13…Bxg5 (see diagram), only to be torpedoed by the stunning 14. Rxe6+!! (not good enough was 14. Nxe6 fxe6 15. Qh5+ Kf8 16. fxg5 Ne5 17. Bh7 Qc4, and Black is better) fxe6 15. Nxe6!? (Qh5+ was also possible) Qa5? (the wrong square; the last chance was 15…Qb6!, parrying 16. Qh5+ with 16…g6 17. Bxg6+ Ke7, with a big fight still ahead) 16. Qh5+ g6 17. Qxg5!, planning to meet 17…Rf8 with 18. f5 Bxd5 19. Nxf8 Nf6 20. fxg6.

White brings home the point with a string of nice moves: 18. Rd2! Nf8? (Black could at least try to survive the ending with two rooks for the queen after 18…Qxd2+) 19. Nxf8 Qd8 (Rxf8 20. Re2+ Kd7 21. Qe7+ is winning) 20. Nxh7! Qxg5 21. fxg5! (keeping f6 free for the knight) — Velimirovic ends up with three pawns for the exchange, and the win proves surprisingly easy. After 24. h5 Bf5 25. Bxf5 gxf5 26. White has three passed pawns and a knight perfectly placed to help them advance. After 26…Ra7 27. Rf2, Black had seen enough and resigned.

Velimirovic’s legacy as a coach can be seen in the success of his last star pupil, Aleksandar Indjic, the 19-year-old grandmaster who won his first Serbian national title in April, just weeks before his teacher passed on. Today’s second games find the student channeling the teacher in a fine attacking game from an open tournament against expert Josif Velev in Bulgaria in 2012.

It’s a classic Queen’s Gambit Declined struggle, with White finally forcing his opponent to accept the gambit pawn with 11. h3 dxc4 12. a4!? Nd5 13. Bg3 Nxc3 14. Qxc3 b5 — Black will be enticed to beef up his defense of the extra queenside pawn, only to find his kingside is badly undermanned.

Black fails to sense the danger in time and pays for it after 18. c5 Qa5? (taking the queen too far afield; but White still has positional compensation and a marked spatial edge after 18…a5 19. Rfb1 Bf6 20. Bd3) 19. Rfc1! (preserving the bind by preventing 19…Qc3) Ra7 20. Ne5 Bf6 21. Bf3, when Velev had to try 21…Bxe5 22. Bxe5 and hope to neutralize White’s dominating bishop pair.

Instead, things fall apart for the defense after 21…Rc8? 22. Nxf7! Kxf7 (declining with 22…Rf8 23. Nd6 Qd8 24. Qe4 leaves White in total control of the board) 23. Qh7!, and the threat of 24. Bh5+ Ke7 [Kf8 25. Bd6+ Be7 26. Qh8 mate] 25. Bd6+ Kd8 26. Qg8+ Be8 27. Bxe8 mate proves impossible to parry. Black tries 23…Ke7 24. Bd6+ Kd8 25. Bh5! g6 (25…Be8 26. Bxe8 Kxe8 [Re7 27. Bh5 Kd7 28. Qe4 Ree8 29. Bxe8+] 29. Qxa7 is also winning for White), but resigns after 26. Qxg6, as mate is inevitable after 26…Be7 27. Qg8+ Bf8 28. Qxf8+ Be8 29. Qxe8 mate.

Velimirovic-Ljubojevic, Yugoslavia Championship, 1972

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