Born in Belgrade in 1961, he attended a classical chess school, so it is hardly surprising that he was among the most successful juniors in former Yugoslavia and a national U-15 champion. He transitioned to professional competition smoothly, participating in several strong national championship finals in a country which consisted of six (now independent) states. Dragan was also a national team member in several Balkaniad and Mitropa Cup team competitions. He became a Grandmaster in 2007, and his peak rating was 2559.
Dragan Paunović had been living in Spain for the past several years, and most of his major tournament victories had taken place in the Pyrenean region: Andorra (2002, 1st-3rd), Seville (2006), Fugueira da Foz (2007), Malaga (2009), and Roquetas del Mar (2011).
Club competitions had brought him many successes over the years, and he took three national Cups with his clubs while also winning several national team titles. Dragan was a member of Chess Club “Chantada,” from the lovely eponymous city near Orense, Spain. He coached talented pupils individually, and at one time was also a coach of the Yugoslav national women’s team.
On May 18, 2016 he was incapacitated by a sudden health affliction, and transported by helicopter to a hospital in Vigo, Spain. Dragan was admitted to the hospital with severe vascular complications resulting in abdominal aortic aneurism. He passed away the morning after surgery.
Our dear colleague was loved by his family, friends and fellow chess players for his gentle demeanor and genuine kindness. Dragan is survived by his father Bogoljub and his brother Tomislav, an international chess master.
Dragan had been with the Chess Openings 24/7 Editorial Board from the very beginning; his moral qualities and chess expertise contributed most, along with extensive analytical experience from his many years serving as an editor for Chess Informant. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by everyone who had the good fortune to cross paths with him.