Saturday, March 27

World Champion Vasily Smyslov 1921-2010

The 7th World Chess Champion Vasily Smyslov died on Friday night, just three days after his 89th birthday. He will be remembered for a stellar career among the top chess players of the world that spanned four decades. His stint as champion was rather short; he won the title from Mikhail Botvinnik in 1957, but lost the automatic return match to the same player a year later. He came close to earning another shot at the title more than 20 years later, but faltered in the 1982 Candidates Final to a certain Garry Kasparov.
"Smyslov was always known for his positional style and his extraordinary endgame abilities. He was also a great combinational player, and in his games we find many spectacular tactical shots. In the opening he made important contributions to the English, Grünfeld, Ruy Lopez and Sicilian." --ChessBase website
"He is truth in chess! Smyslov plays correctly, truthfully and has a natural style. ... But I am fond of his style. I would recommend a study of Smyslov's games to children who want to know how to play chess because he plays the game how it should be played: his style is the closest to some sort of 'virtual truth' in chess. He always tried to make the strongest move in each position." --Vladimir Kramnik (photo at right from ChessNinja blog)
The following sample games from offer a glimpse into the style of the 7th World Champion.Smyslov also excelled away from the chessboard. He studied aviation science in the 40s and was an accomplished baritone singer. In fact, he often sang at tournaments (photo at top right), accompanied by the famous pianist and chess rival Mark Taimanov.

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