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Smyslov Biography Edit
Compiled by WCC Editing Project

Previous Smyslov bio:

Vasily Vasiliyevich Smyslov was born in Moscow. A talented singer, Smyslov narrowly missed joining the Bolshoi Opera. Opera's loss was the chess world's gain. He was awarded the Grandmaster title in 1941. Moscow champion of 1942. He took his his first win over Botvinnik at Moscow championship of 1943. Moscow champion of 1944/5. Sub-champion of the World in 1948. Shared the first place with David Bronstein in the 1949 Soviet Championship. Winner of Chigorin Memorial 1951. After his success at Zurich 1953, he became the challenger in 1954, but tied the match with Botvinnik. Soviet champion in 1955 sharing the first place with Efim Geller. Again winner of the Candidates Tournaments at Amsterdam 1956 and after winner of Alekhine memorial (drawing Botvinnik) the way was paved for Smyslov to become the 7th World Champion when he defeated Mikhail Botvinnik in 1957. His reign was short-lived as Botvinnik regained the title a year later. Smyslov would go on to many tournament victories such as Amsterdam 1964 (jointly), Havana 1965 in front of Robert James Fischer, and Monte Carlo 1969. In 1982 at the Las Palmas Interzonal Tournament, Smyslov finished second and qualified for the Candidates Matches, and at age 61 advanced past Robert Huebner in the quarter-finals (winning the spin of a roulette wheel to decide the tied match), then defeating Zoltan Ribli in the semi-final, before losing to young challenger Garry Kasparov in the final. Vasily Smyslov crowned a remarkable career by becoming the first Senior World Champion at Bad Worishofen in 1991. His father Vasily Osipovich Smyslov also played and was a strong amateur player.

Crosstables and other info can be found here:
[rusbase-1] [rusbase-2]$...
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Smyslov Videos:
Singing, playing piano, beating Botvinnik (1957) Receiving World Championship Laurels (1957) Walking with Keres in the Netherlands (1948)

Wikipedia article: Vasily Smyslov


Game Collection: Smyslov's Tournaments and Matches 1935-1979

Vasily Smyslov


Father Vasily Osipovich Smyslov taught him to play chess at age 7. <125 Games, 1>

His father was a 1st category player who defeated <Alekhine> at the <St Petersburg Chess Society Tournament 1912> Alekhine vs V O Smyslov, 1912 <Soltis p.124>

After winning a rook odds match against his Uncle Kirill, he was given Alekhine's "Best Games" as a prize. Inscription: 'To the winner of the match, to future champion Vasya Smyslov' <125 Games, 1> His Uncle Kirill was an aviation factory engineer and 2d Category player. <Soltis, 124>

His father was an "Economic Engineer" working in the "Department for the Preparation of Securities" <125 Games, 1>

His father was an "engineering technologist" <Romanovsky xi>

Lived in a small flat in an old house on the outskirts of Moscow. Highlight of our life was a 'Schroeder' piano, on which my father used to play. He began teaching me piano and chess <125 Games, 2>

"Starting in 1948, I seriously studied singing under Professor Konstantin Zlobin, whom I met by chance in Leningrad in 1947, when I was playing in the 15th USSR Championship. For many years I took lessons from him, and even appeared in a singing competition in the Bolshoi Theatre. But, as in the life of my father, singing remained something for my own satisfaction." <125 Games, 17>

Up to the age of 14 I studied chess only at home, and did not think of playing in tournaments. But I passionately read chess books. First book I read was Dufresne's self-tutor, published as an appendix in Lasker's <Common Sense in Chess>. From it I became acquainted with the romantic games of the old masters... the impression made by them was stunning. <125 Games, 3>

Favorite books Capablanca's <Chess Fundamentals>, Tarrasch's <Die Monderne Schachpartie>, Nimzo's <My System> <125 Games, 4

The historic Alekhine-Capablanca match- I pondered over their games, trying to penetrate into the deep ideas of these great masters. <125 Games, 4>

Attended <Moscow 1935 and 1936 International Tournaments> with his father, especially attracted by the play of Lasker and Capablanca. <125 Games, 4>


Soviet Grandmaster

Summer of 1935 participated in 1st chess event. Unrated players in chess club of Gorky Park. He won this and two more, by the end of the summer he was 3d Category. <125 Games, 4-5>

Fall 1935, joins the Moskvoretsky House of Pioneers. <125 Games, 5>

Had one of his first end game studies published in <64>, which described him as "the tall, fiery-red-haired, mopheaded, freckled young fellow." <Soltis, p.124

"In 1936 he entered the second category, and in the autumn of the same year the first category." <Romanovsky, xi>

In 1937- <Smyslov> on his "happiest moment": At the championship of the Young Pioneers Stadium, where I won all 11 games, didn't give away a single draw, and there were strong players there, almost all of them became masters, I kept the tournament table from that event." <Sosonko> pp.126-27

My fascination for Chess problem studies assisted the development of my aesthetic understanding of chess, and improved my endgame play. <125 Games, 7>

Finished Middle School in 1938, became "Youth Champion of USSR". Levenfish gave him 1st prize of an inscribed clock, which "continues to count out the time of my chess career.<125 Games, 9>

Jan. 1938- Leningrad- Smyslov won the USSR under 18 Championship. <Averbakh p.34>

"In 1938... Smyslov gained first place in the All-Union Schoolboy's Championship and that same summer competed in the All-Union tournament in Gorky for players of the first category...he shared first and second places in this tournament with Anatole Ufimtsev." (earning the Candidate Master title) <Romanovsky xi>

-<National Tournament of 1 Category- Gorky August 1938(2 group)> Actually Smyslov shared 1-3 places with Ufimtsev and Stolberg. [rusbase-7]

Shared 1st with Sergey Vsevolodovich Belavenets, ahead of Grandmaster Andre Lilienthal at <18th Moscow Championship 1938>, awarded Master Title. <125 Games, 9>

"Chess in the USSR" press report on Smyslov's victory: "the figure of Smyslov in many ways brings to mind M.M. Botvinnik at the beginning of his distinguished chess career." <Romanovsky xiii>

Finished 3d in the <12th USSR Championship 1940>, Finished 3d in the <Absolute Championship 1941>- "in accordance with the norms in existence, for these two successes I was awarded the title of USSR grandmaster. <125 Games, 9-10>

"...although... Smyslov achieved good results in the years immediately after the World Championship tournament of 1948, he did not quite live up to the high reputation he had earnt for himself. Indeed, at that time he was outshone by the genius of Bronstein and Keres, and he even had difficulty in keeping up with the rising Soviet stars, Geller, Petrosian and Taimanov.

(his shared 3d at <Budapest 1950> ... was perhaps the beginning of Smyslov's second surge forward. In the International Team Tournament at Helsinki Smyslov played with Remarkable power and sureness; it was not without reason that grandmaster Bernstein was heard to remark on seeing Smyslov one day, 'There goes the best player in the tournament.'" <P.H. Clarke, xxix>


World Champion

Big influence was Chigorin's games and his ideas in the Ruy Lopez <125 Games, 10>

1st International tournament Groningen 1946. "third place... behind Botvinnik and Euwe opened the way for my participation in the battle for the World Championship." <125 Games, 11>

Smyslov's 2d in the <1948 WCC> seeded him into the <Budapest 1950 Candidates Tournament>. <SOURCE NEEDED> They were to be joined by the unsuccessful invitees to the 1948 Championship, but only Vasily Smyslov and Paul Keres took their places.<nescio>

"A pre-ELO form of rankings, proposed by the Moscow master and mathematician A. Khachaturov, concluded that during the period of 1947-1949 the pecking order of Soviet players was: (No. 1) Botvinnik, (2)Smyslov, (3)Bronstein, (4)Boleslavsky, (5)Kotov, (6)Keres, (7)Flohr, (8)Lilienthal,(9)Bondarevsky, (10)Averbakh, (11)Tolush, and (12) Semyon Furman." <Soltis p.176>

3d place in the <Budapest 1950 Candidates Tournament> gave me the automatic right to a place in the next Candidates Tournament. <125 Games, 12>

Soltis: "In the 1950 Candidates he finished third, and was depressed with the recognition that he had lost ground since 1941, when he was recognized as the number two Soviet player. At that point Smyslov applied for a position as a singer for the Bolshoi but had second thoughts." <Soltis p.212> -

"In preparing for the meeting with Botvinnik (1954), I studied his favourite schemes, as well as his methods of opening preparation" <125 Games, 13>

Game Collection: WCC: Botvinnik-Smyslov 1954


"Gennady Kuzmin, who suddenly developed an illness in 1976 so that Smyslov could replace him at the Biel Interzonal." <Soltis, 272>


-<Game 13>

Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1954 (0-1)


"...Botvinnik revealed one of his new weapons, 5...b6, and it prompted Smyslov to launch an unsound attack (6.Nge2 d6 7.0-0 Bb7 8.f4 f5 9.g4?! fxg4 10.f5 Qd7) that lost in 41 moves."

Position after <5...b6>

click for larger view

Position after <9.g4?!>

click for larger view

Position after <10...Qd7>

click for larger view

-Andrew Soltis, "Soviet Chess 1917-1991" (McFarland 1997),p.220


-<Game 14>

Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1954 (0-1)


<"Smyslov later said the game that gave him the greatest esthetic pleasure in his entire career was the 14th of the match. But Botvinnik later saw treachery, since in the 14th game Smyslov quickly innovated in an opening Botvinnik had never tried before. <<<He accused his second, Kan, of disclosing his opening preparation to the enemy camp.>>>

Even though Smyslov publicly denied this, Botvinnik never took back his accusation.">

-Andrew Soltis, "Soviet Chess 1917-1991" (McFarland 1997),p.220



Candidate Cycling

3d place in the <Budapest 1950 Candidates Tournament> gave me the automatic right to a place in the next Candidates Tournament. <125 Games, 12>


USSR Championship (1955) 1st place

This tournament wasone of the Zonal events to select players eligible to play in the upcoming Gothenburg Interzonal (1955). <Smyslov> was already seeded directly into the <Amsterdam 1956 Candidates> from being a WCC challenger in 1954.

-<Amsterdam 1956 Candidates> Amsterdam Candidates (1956) 1st place

"The battle became especially fierce in the second cycle, when three rounds from the finish Keres was level with me, with Geller and Bronstein half a point behind, and Spassky and Petrosian trailing by a further half point. In this sharp situation I won a very tense game against Bronstein, (Smyslov vs Bronstein, 1956) then drew with Spassky, and success in the final game with Pilnik gave me victory in the tournament." <125 Games, 13-14>

On his loss in the <Smyslov-Botvinnik 1958> match: "During the match I went down with 'flu, and I finished the event with... pneumonia." <125 Games, 15>


1961 Zonal - <28th USSR Championship> in Moscow: Game Collection: USSR Championship 1961a

"The tournament also served as the Soviet Zonal, qualifying four players for the Interzonal held in Stockholm in 1962 (see Game Collection: Interzonals 1962: Stockholm)."

-Smyslov finished 5th in the 1961 Zonal - <28th USSR Championship> and did not qualify for the Stockholm Interzonal.


-<Amsterdam Interzonal 1964> Amsterdam Interzonal (1964)

-<Geller-Smyslov Candidates Quarterfinal Match 1965> (1965)Geller - Smyslov Candidates Quarterfinal (1965)


-<Palma de Mallorca Interzonal 1970>

Keres was Smyslov's second. <Soltis, 295>

Palma de Mallorca Interzonal (1970) (9 Nov - 12 Dec) Shared 7th with Portisch, behind Fischer, Larsen, Geller, Huebner, Taimanov and Uhlmann, with +7 -3 =13. Winter, p.151,

1971 <Smyslov-Portisch Match (For Official Reserve, Candidates) 1971> In Potoroz ( ) +1 -1 =4. Portisch was declared the winner on previous tie breaks from their shared 7th place finish at the <Palma de Mallorca 1970 Interzonal>, but subsequently, no reserve was required in the cycle. Winter, p.153, Wikipedia article: Lajos Portisch,

DATING CLUE- <Fischer-Taimanov> played (16 May - 1 June)


<Petropolis Interzonal (1973)> Petropolis Interzonal (1973)

(July 23 - August 17 1973) was an eighteen-player round robin with the top three qualifying for the Candidates matches. The concurrent Leningrad Interzonal (1973) cycle was much like this one. The winner here was Mecking with 12.5/17 (+7 =10 -0),and there was a three-way tie for second place with 11.5 -Polugaevsky, Portisch and Geller, with Smyslov just behind with 11. Since only three players could qualify for the Candidates matches, there was a play-off later in the year which resulted in Polugaevsky and Portisch joining Mecking in the next stage.



-<Biel Interzonal> Biel Interzonal (1976) (11 July - 6 Aug) Shared 5th with Byrne and Huebner, behind Larsen, Petrosian, Portisch and Tal, ahead of Andersson, Csom, Geller and Smejkal with +5 -0 =13. Winter p.152,


<My own experience shows that Devil fights God in chess as in real life, and the field of <<<the battle is not the chessboard but in people’s hearts.>>> I realized this after my match against Huebner that ended in a draw. Lots were cast for the winner, in a casino. It was the first time I had the feeling that I could not influence my own fate.>

- <Smyslov Interview by Vladimir Anzikeev for "Shakhmatnaya Nedelia" (Chess Week). Translated by Zoya Vlassova. First appeared in "Chess Today" No. 1045.>


Style and Theoretical contributions

"In the concluding lines of a short essay on Tchigorin... found in... N. Grekov, "the Great Russian Chess Master, M.I. Tchigorin," Smyslov (said)... 'We, the Soviet chessplayers, follow the artistic legacy of Tchigorin and respect the memory of this Russian coryphaeus of chess thought." <Romanovsky xvi>

"The play of a master must express the desire to combine a general strategic plan with a skilful use of tactics in the solution of the problem before him. A leaning to one side or another... disturbs the logical development of a game of chess." <Romanovsky xxi>


-<Grunfeld, Smyslov Defence (D94)> Grunfeld (D94)

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 e3

Polugaevsky vs Smyslov, 1960


-<Grunfeld Defense, Smyslov variation (D99)>

<In preparation for <1948 World Championship> I worked out a <<<variation in the Gruenfeld that now bears my name>>>: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0-0 7.e4 Bg4 8.Be3 Nfd7

"The point of the plan, involving the transfer of the king's knight to b6, and the development of the other knight at c6, lies in piece pressure on White's pawn centre."> <125 Games, 11>

-<Kasparov> on the Gruenfeld Smyslov variation:

"My Great Predecessors Vol.2," p.280


-<Slav Defense: Smyslov Variation (D16)> (<D16: Queen's Gambit Declined Slav>)

-Stem game <5...Na6> in our database- W Orbach vs W Von Holzhausen, 1928

-<Smylsov> revived the idea against <Gligoric> in the Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959) Gligoric vs Smyslov, 1959


King's Indian Attack: Smyslov Variation Reti Opening (A05)

Smyslov vs Matulovic, 1961


-<Ruy Lopez, Closed, Smyslov Defense (C93)>

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 <h6>


-<Ruy Lopez Fianchetto Defense (C60)>

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6

Smyslov revived this line at <Szolnok 1975>

Mednis vs Smyslov, 1975

P Dely vs Smyslov, 1975

Kasparov vs Smyslov, 1975

Hartston vs Smyslov, 1975

H Westerinen vs Smyslov, 1975

G Rajna vs Smyslov, 1975

Kupreichik vs Smyslov, 1976



Fischer On the eve of the <Spassky-Fischer 1972> world championship, the Soviet Sports Committee asked all the Soviet top grandmasters to prepare a "dossier" on Fischer to help Spassky. In his dossier Smyslov suggested

"If you find yourself in an unfavourable position, it is good to complicate matters, to divert Fischer from his planned actions. typical in this respect is my game with Fischer in Buenos Aires (1970), where in a difficult situation I successfully sacrificed a pawn by b3-b4." <Russians v. Fischer, p. 324>



1 Edward Winter, ed. "World Chess Champions." Pergamon Press, 1981


2 Edward Winter, "A Chess Omnibus" (Russell Enterprises 2003)

"Vassily Smyslov is a student at the Moscow Aircraft Institute, and is 21 years old. Nevertheless he has earned a place among the six chess grandmasters of the Soviet Union... Great maturity, level headedness and confidence mark Smyslov's playing in spite of his youth, and many of his admirers predict that he will be a candidate for the world championship."

-"British Chess Magazine" (Feb 1943), p. 32. <Chessnote 2474> p.144


3 Edward Winter, "Chess Explorations" Cadogan, 1996



Genna Sosonko

Genna Sosonko "The World Champions I Knew." New in Chess, 2013

-<Tilburg 1992> "...I asked myself... when were you happiest in life? was... At the house of pioneers in prewar Moscow... Abram Isaakovich Rabinovich is going through a game, and we, five or six little boys bunched around a table, are saying, it's better if Black goes here. And he says how's it better, what do you know, you little nitwits?" p.110


On Smyslov's wife <Nadia Smyslova> <nee Nadezhda Andreevna> : "...wherever he went... the first thing he did was to take a photograph of a smiling young Nadia Smyslova out of his suitcase and put it on his bedside table." p.111


On Smyslov's various, and usually temporary, enthusiasms (paraphrase): "Spiritualism, raising the dead, sculptures and images of idols and gods, UFOs, surgery without anesthetic, and the prophecies of Nostradamus" p.113-14


On religion: "He himself said that he had been a believer, albeit secretly, from a young age... He wore a cross on a gold chain, and during our walks, if there was an opportunity, he would go into a church, light a candle, and cross himself in front of the icons." p.114


On shopping: "Smyslov would repeatedly exchange things he had just bought... in the mid-seventies it was... a chronic ailment that didn't respond to treatment." p.115


On Smyslov's mild temperament: "I could literally count the number of times I saw him angry. I remember one case very well... I said that there had been an assassination attempt on the Pope in Rome... and they'd caught the shooter."

Smyslov: "They caught him? That kind of villain should immediately be hanged in public in St. Peter's Square, to teach others a lesson. And not just hanged, but by the balls..." p.116


On Lenin: "He always avoided saying the name Lenin, even in the Soviet era. He would even say 'When I was playing in the national championship in Petersburg in 1961', using the pre-Soviet name of Leningrad. He called Lenin 'the Antichrist', whose embalmed corpse should have been taken out of Red Square a long time ago." p.118


On singing: "Singing was his passion, and in his youth he studied with the famous Professor Zlobin... Smyslov also considered a professional career. He was hread in the Bolshoi Theatre adn in ...the Kirov... Caruso was Smyslov's favorite singer, and he often described how the great Italian had appeared to him in a dreadm and given him... advice on questions of singing technique.

September 19,1997. The Central Chess Club on Gogol Boulevard. He was very excited: his new CD had just come out... He talked non-stop about music, success, destiny, karma and his plans for the future: 'You now Genna, Stradivarius did his most fruitful work in the period from age 72 to 93. So everything's still ahead of me!'" p.120


On chess computers:

Smyslov: "I still remember going into the club to see Mikhail Moiseevich, to his laboratory, as Botvinnik was also trying to build a computer that could smash a human. I wished him success, but only after I'm no longer around..." p.122


On being world chess champion:

Smyslov: "...when I became World Champion, I got the feeling that the whole world had risen up against me. This didn't help me to have a peaceful life or a relaxed mindset. Perhaps that's why I lost the return match with Botvinnik, and not only because I was seriously ill during the match... Do I regret anything? Yes I do. It's a pity that I wasn't serious and academic, and if I had been, perhaps then I would have stayed World Champion for longer. And I have regrets about my singing." p.125


On his biggest success:

Smyslov: "Which success do I consider to be the biggest of my life? Winning the Candidates' tournaments, you say? The match with Botvinnik? Blunder again! I achieved my biggest success in 1937... At the championship of the YOung Pioneers Stadium, where I won all 11 games, didn't give away a single draw, and there were strong players there, almost all of them became masters, I kept the tournament table from that event." pp.126-27


On Fischer:

Smyslov: "...a friend of Nadezhda Andreevna..asked if it was true that Fischer was the most brilliant player in the whole history of chess. And I told her: it's true, of course, except that apart from him there were other most brilliant players." p.127


Yuri Averbakh

Yuri Averbakh "Centre-Stage and Behind the Scenes" Steve Giddins transl. New in Chess, 2011

Jan. 1938- Leningrad- Smyslov won the USSR under 18 Championship. p.34


1954 USSR-USA match in New York:

"Smyslov was now leader, having recently drawn his match against Botvinnik" p.89


1976 Korchnoi's defection in Holland. The Soviet Sports Committee drafted a letter Korchnoi, signed by Tal, Smyslov, Petrosian, Taimanov, Polugaevsky, Flohr, and Kotov... but not Botvinnik. p.178


-<1982 Candidates Quarterfinal vs. Huebner>

Averbakh helping Smyslov.


"In his best years, Smyslov had never liked to spend a lot of time on deep study of opening variations. He was more interested in strategic ideas. However, times change and in order to fight on equal terms with young players, armed to the teeth with theoretical knowledge, he had to change his approach to opening preparation, and he started to spend more time on it...

...Vasya turned out to be deeply religious, trusting wholeheartedly in God, and accepting his won fate completely. This faith in his destiny helped him to withstand the blows to his pride, which inevitably affect every aging player who is fighting over the board with younger players..." pp.199-200


" seems to me it was Smyslov's pride that was the reason. He hated the fact that he was regarded as a veteran, discounted because of his age. And he had the idea of showing the younger generation... that... he was not weaker than they were in practical strength." p.200

-<Smyslov's wife> Nadezhda Andreevna p.200

Paraphrase: Huebner match postponed because Smyslov contracted flu p.201

Paraphrase: After game 7, Huebner stopped shaking hands with Smyslov, because Smyslov objected to the arbiter that Huebner's head massager, a blind man with a dog, was disturbing him. It was also against match regulations to have members of a player's delegation contact them during play.

Averbakh: "Smyslov... believed in the existence of black magic and such forces." p.202

"The ten main games failed to separate them, and the rules provided that four additional games should be played... However, these too failed to produce a result. Then, according to the rules, it had to be decided by lots. The director of the Velden casino, who sponsored the match, suggested using the roulette wheel for this... Huebner preferred not to be there and had already left Velden... The wheel bounced and bounced, and then stopped in a slot. Everyone groaned- it was on zero! The wheel had to be spun for a second time. This time, the ball landed on red, which meant that Smyslov had won the match." p.203

Paraphrase: FIDE president wanted the Smyslov-Ribli semi final in Abu Dhabi. The Kasparov-Korchnoi semi final was slated for Pasadena, and the Soviets objected they could not guarantee Kasparov's security there, and refused. Smyslov at first agreed with the Soviets that this was unacceptable, but later supported the idea. The Soviets had tied the two matches together- if one was in an improper location, then neither semifinal could be played. p.204

Smyslov: "I will do anything to play the match in Abu Dhabi, despite the inappropriateness of the FIDE President's decision (Campomanes). I am 62 years of age, and this is possibly my last chance to fight for the world title." p. 204

Paraphrase: Camopanes then disqualified both Kasparov and Smyslov.

AT the Manila FIDE Congress, Korchnoi agreed to abide by FIDE decision if the Soviets renounced their boycott of him. p.207


Both semi final matches were played in London, helped by Ray Keene. p.207-9

Financing arranged by computer firm Acorn. p.209

Averbakh on Smyslov-Ribli:

"On the whole, he (Smyslov) conducted the match better and, especially more calmly than his younger opponent, who was noticeably nervous and often fell into time-trouble." p.212


Candidates final- Kasparov vs. Smyslov in Vilnius:


"In the first, and especially the second game, Smyslov exerted all his strength and nervous energy, and it seemed to me that he could not fully recover. Of course, his age was the main factor...

The ex-world champion had nothing for which to reproach himself. He fought desperately and took great risks, but on this occasion, Ldy Luck was not on his side... p.214


Andrew Soltis

Andrew Soltis, "Soviet Chess 1917-1991" (McFarland 1997),p.220

-<1952 Helsinki Chess Olympiad>

"Botvinnik... was shocked when he discovered the other members of the team were trying to dump him... Botvinnik confronted Smyslov about being part of what he considered a conspiracy to keep him from the national team. Smyslov, in a June 1993 "New in Chess" interview, denied being part of a plot. He said he was the one who challenged Botvinnik, saying that as world champions- and 'as a member of the Communist Party'- he must have known about the intriguing that was going on. Only Boleslavsky spoke in defense of Botvinnik, the champion recalled, and Botvinnik was replaced on the team by Geller." p.209


-<1953, Baptized Russian Orthodox Christian>

"Even Botvinnik later acknowledged that from 1953 to 1958 Smyslov was 'indisputably the strongest tournament fighter. His talent was universal.' Smyslov was a unique figure. As a baptized Russian Orthodox Christian, he was one of few very strong chess players to be deeply religious. After glasnost, he said it was religion that led him to a feeling of 'harmony,' a key word in his vocabulary, and kept him from accepting invitations to join the Communist Party. Smyslov also believed in predestination ('I think that people who become world champions have been born world champions') and the predictions of Nostradamus, and even believed that Enrico Caruso, his idol, appeared to him in one of his dreams and corrected his singing style.

Smyslov was one of the tallest of grandmasters, with glassed thicker than Botvinnik's and a slow-moving gait that exuded dignity and calm- a direct contrast with the excitable, combative previous challenger, Bronstein. But while Smyslov seemed to avoid political intrigues he cold not avoid their consequences. On the eve of the 1953 Candidates tournament he was abruptly told that the Sports Committee had ordered Simagin to replace Vladimir Alatortsev, his second since 1946. "It was so sudden I didn't know what to say,' the told the heartbroken Alatortsev. Simagin had been Kotov's trainer for years but they broke bitterly after the previous Candidates tournament. Kotov recalled how Simagin, 'with angry eyes through is thick glassed,' would often shout "I am not your servant!' p. 215

-<1964 Moscow Zonal>

"For the first time since the FIDE qualification system was created in 1947, a special non-Soviet Championship zonal tournament was held, running February 18- March 10, 1964, in Moscow, with four Interzonal spots up for grabs. Korchnoi later claimed Smyslov used 'his friends' with acces to the vlasti, possibly culture minister Pyotr Demichev, to get himsefl one of the four seeds without having to play in the zonal. The other seven zonal players were outraged and considered conducting a strike... But Spassky would not take part and the plot collapsed, Korchnoi said. Other accounts say merely that Smyslov declined his invitation on grounds that he would be invited to the Amsterdam Interzonal as a former world champion." p. 265


-<1954 Match>

"Botvinnik's second match began in March, 1954, with him winning the first, second and fourth games. But Smyslov regained his composure, sought double-edged positions and won the seventh, ninth, tenth and eleventh.

Petrosian felt that Smyslov erred by failing to realize the crisis was over and he could return to his solid roots. 'But to the end of the match Smyslov aimed to sow the wind and he reaped the whirlwind,' Petrosian wrote. The initiative shifted back and forth. Smyslov later said the game that gave him the greatest esthetic pleasure in his entire career was the 14th of the match. But Botvinnik later saw treachery, since in the 14th game Smyslov quickly innovated in an opening Botvinnik had never tried before. He accused his second, Kan, of disclosing his opening preparation to the enemy camp. Even though Smyslov publicly denied this, Botvinnik never took back his accusation" pp.219-220

"Botvinnik was quick to spot the flaws in his rivals: 'Vasily Vasileyevich (why hide it) was rather lazy.' But he conceded that the younger man had more staying power. Botvinnik had kept in shape by rowing a canoe... But eventually the age difference caught up with Botvinnik and in the last five games of the 1954 match, Smyslov won twice to tie the score." p.221



Vasily Smyslov, "Smyslov's 125 Selected Games" Ken Neat transl. Cadogen, 1983

P.A. Romanovsky, "Vassily Vassilievitch Smyslov." Published in Vasily Smyslov, "My Best Games of Chess (1935-1957)" P.H. Clarke ed., transl. (Routledge and Kegan Paul 1958), pp. xi-xxvii (First published as "Izbrannie partii" in Russian in 1952)

P.H. Clarke, "V.V. Smyslov, 1952-57." Published in Vasily Smyslov, "My Best Games of Chess (1935-1957)" P.H. Clarke ed., transl. (Routledge and Kegan Paul 1958), pp. xxix-xxxi(First published as "Izbrannie partii" in Russian in 1952)

Garry Kasparov, "My Great Predecessors Vol.2"


Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1957 
(A16) English, 41 moves, 0-1

Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1957 
(B62) Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer, 45 moves, 1/2-1/2

Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1957 
(E63) King's Indian, Fianchetto, Panno Variation, 41 moves, 1/2-1/2

3 games

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