Dissidents play chess

Christmas Eve 1984. A group of like-minded people got together in Villa Dragoslava of Drs. Velimir and Petar Simić at Banovo Brdo, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, a meeting place of the anti-communist opposition in the 70s and 80s.

Who are these people?

We all recognize Viktor the Terrible at once. Korchnoi, born in 1931 in Leningrad to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, defected to the Netherlands in 1976, finally settling in Switzerland. He had always had problems with the authorities – he used to openly say what he thought back in USSR. He wasn’t like Spassky who pretended to play the fool, pretended not to know anything. Here’s Kortchnoi, “When I defected, I considered myself a dissident on two legs, while Spassky was one-legged dissident.”[1] Korchnoi was somewhat of a difficult character, but, may Carlsen and Anand hear this, always full of fighting spirit and will power, extremely averse to making draws; with Keres, widely considered one of the strongest players to have never become World Chess Champion.

Victor Korchnoi and Vuk Draskovic playing chess

Viktor Korchnoi and Vuk Drašković playing chess

But who are other participants?

Across Korchnoi is Vuk Drašković (b. 1946), a lawyer, journalist, novelist, later politician, and Serbian opposition leader from early 1990s. Are they playing a game on a mini chessboard before the Christmas dinner comes, or just discussing chess and politics? All we can say for sure, based on the placement of other pieces on the table, the soup hasn’t been served yet.

Vuk’s wife Danica (Dana) Drašković seems to be watching the game. Her brother FM Veselin Bošković was killed as a collateral victim in an assassination attempt by Slobodan Milošević on Vuk in 1999. The Veselin Boškovic Memorial tournament is played each year since 2000[3], to honor the memory of Veselin.

Between Viktor and Dana is Milan Mladenović (b. 1949), another dissident, Serbian poet, philosopher, classical philologist. Also a chess player.

Miro Radojcic

Miro Radojčić

On the other side from Viktor is Miroslav (Miro) Radojčić (1920-2000), a Yugoslav National Master and USCF Master, but more famous as one of Yugoslavia’s most renowned political journalists for the Politika newspaper. In the early 1960s he was assigned as Politika’s foreign correspondent to the US. A captivating personality, he was remembered as an amazing storyteller from frequent visits to the Manhattan Chess Club in New York. He contributed a long-running Observation Point column for the Chess Life magazine (here is what the Chess Life editors had to say in a preface to Miro’s first article in the April, 1967 issue).

In 1964, he shared 2nd place with Robert Byrne and James Sherwin in the U.S. Open in Boston; Pal Benko captured his second title in a field of 234. Radojčić was the surprise of the tournament. Rated 2165 coming in, he scored an undefeated 9.5-2.5 including a win over William Lombardy and draws with Benkő, Byrne and Sherwin. The same year Miro won the Western Open in Milwaukee and Florida Open.

Fisher mentioned his game with Miro from the 1963 New York State Open in his 60 Memorable[2](p. 282)

Here is Miro’s game with the legendary GM Bora Kostić (who played Capablanca in the 1919 Havana match) from the 1947 Yugoslavia championship in Ljubljana, now Slovenia:

 

And who the two guys standing may be?

Please let me know if anyone know more about this event and its participants.


References:

1. David Edmonds, John Eidinow, Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How a lone American star defeated the Soviet chess machine

2. Bobby Fischer, My 60 Memorable Games

 

Vila Dragoslava

Villa Dragoslava of Drs. Velimir and Petar Simić at Banovo Brdo in Belgrade was the meeting place of the anti-communist opposition in the 70s and 80s

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!