whiteshark: Here are some additional crumbs, extracted from a Smyslov orbituary, written by Dylan Loeb McCLAIN in the NY Times:
"Vasily Vasiliyevich Smyslov was born March 24, 1921, in Moscow. <His father, Vasily Osipovich Smyslov, who was himself a master chess player, taught him to play at age 6.> He was quickly smitten by the game, spending hours a day poring over <the books in his father’s chess library.>
Though obsessed with chess, Mr. Smyslov did not at first think that it could be a career. As he recalled in his book, <his father “shared the conviction of a certain group of people, traditional at that time (and not only then!), that art, music or especially chess should not be the main occupation of a ‘respectable’ person.” To support his family, Mr. Smyslov’s father worked as an “economic engineer” in the Department for the Preparation of Securities,> a job that Mr. Smyslov generously described as an “unromantic profession.”
Mr. Smyslov’s doubts about chess as a career began to disappear around his 13th birthday, <when he beat his father for the first time.> The next year, he entered his first organized competition. He was immediately successful, winning or finishing among the top three players in several tournaments. He also began composing chess problems, getting his first one published in the chess journal 64 in 1936.
<> brackets by me to highlight his father's reference.