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Vasily Smyslov
XIV Schach-Olympiade Leipzig, 1960  
Number of games in database: 2,624
Years covered: 1935 to 2001
Last FIDE rating: 2494
Highest rating achieved in database: 2620

Overall record: +911 -305 =1373 (61.7%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 35 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (158) 
    B92 B40 B58 B22 B42
 English (128) 
    A15 A13 A14 A10 A17
 Ruy Lopez (106) 
    C77 C92 C97 C79 C98
 King's Indian (82) 
    E61 E62 E60 E66 E69
 Reti System (76) 
    A05 A04 A06
 English, 1 c4 c5 (68) 
    A30 A36 A33 A35 A37
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (218) 
    C60 C76 C92 C69 C67
 Slav (143) 
    D18 D10 D11 D15 D17
 Nimzo Indian (122) 
    E54 E32 E41 E55 E34
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (92) 
    C92 C97 C93 C98 C84
 Grunfeld (73) 
    D94 D98 D85 D99 D76
 English, 1 c4 e5 (71) 
    A28 A21 A29 A22 A20
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1954 0-1
   Smyslov vs I Rudakovsky, 1945 1-0
   Smyslov vs V Liberzon, 1968 1-0
   Smyslov vs Reshevsky, 1948 1-0
   Keres vs Smyslov, 1953 0-1
   K Gerasimov vs Smyslov, 1935 0-1
   Smyslov vs Ribli, 1983 1-0
   Smyslov vs Karpov, 1971 1-0
   Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1954 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1957 0-1

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: [what is this?]
   FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948)
   Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Match (1954)
   Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Return Match (1957)
   Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Rematch (1958)

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   USSR Championship (1949)
   Zurich Candidates (1953)
   Havana (1965)
   Moscow (1963)
   Amsterdam Interzonal (1964)
   Hastings 1968/69 (1968)
   USSR Championship (1944)
   USSR Championship (1940)
   USSR Championship (1947)
   Palma de Mallorca (1967)
   Las Palmas (1972)
   Budapest (1952)
   USSR Championship (1951)
   Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959)
   Petropolis Interzonal (1973)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Match Smyslov! by amadeus
   Road to the Championship - Vasily Smyslov by suenteus po 147
   125 Selected Games by Vasily Smyslov by vrkfouri
   125 Selected Games by Vasily Smyslov by suenteus po 147
   125 Selected Games by Vasily Smyslov by Incremental
   Selected Games (Smyslov) by Qindarka
   Smyslov's Tournaments and Matches 1935-1979 by jessicafischerqueen
   Nearly to Perfection by Imohthep
   Veliki majstori saha 22 SMISLOV (Marovic) by Chessdreamer
   Endgames virtuoso Smyslov by LESTRADAR
   Endgames virtuoso Smyslov by mneuwirth
   Vasily Smyslov's Best Games by KingG
   Smyslov brevities by ughaibu
   Smyslov's Best Games of chess 1935-1957 by JoseTigranTalFischer

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Vasily Smyslov
Search Google for Vasily Smyslov

(born Mar-24-1921, died Mar-27-2010, 89 years old) Russia
[what is this?]
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 Soviet Grandmaster title in 1941. Moscow champion of 1942. He took 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]$...
[rusbase-4] [rusbase-5]

Smyslov Videos:
Singing, playing piano, beating Botvinnik (1957) Receiving World Championship Laurels (1957) Walking with Keres in the Netherlands (1948)

Wikipedia article: Vasily Smyslov


<Revision and Expansion> of this bio under construction by JFQ.


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

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>

Autumn 1938- 1st year student at the Moscow School of Aviation <Romanovsky xii>

"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>

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

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>

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>

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

In 1937- 1. <Moskvoretsky House of Pioneers Championship 1937> (Fall) 1st, 11-0. Had earned <1st Category rank> in autumn 1936

-<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

Jan. 1938- Leningrad- Smyslov won the USSR under 18 Championship. <Averbakh p.34> Grigory Levenfish gave him 1st prize of an inscribed clock, which "continues to count out the time of my chess career.<125 Games, 9>

Shared 1-3 places with Anatoly Ufimtsev and Mark Moiseevich Stolberg in the <Gorky National 1st Category Tournament 1938 (2d group)> [rusbase-7] This result earned him the Candidate Master title. <Romanovsky, xi>

Shared 1st with Sergey Vsevolodovich Belavenets, ahead of Grandmaster Andre Lilienthal at <18th Moscow Championship 1938>, awarded Master Title. <125 Games, 9> <[rusbase-8]>

Finished 3d in the USSR Championship (1940), Finished 3d in the USSR 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>

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

World Champion

Smyslov's 2d in the <1948 WCC> seeded him into the <Budapest 1950 Candidates Tournament>. Budapest Candidates (1950)

They were to be joined by the unsuccessful invitees to the 1948 Championship, but only Vasily Smyslov and Paul Keres took their places.<nescio>

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

1st in the <Zurich Candidates Tournament 1953> Zurich Candidates (1953)

1954 <World Championship Match> Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Match (1954) Drew Botvinnik, who retained championship on draw odds.

Candidates Cycling

Theoretical Contributions

-<Grunfeld Defense, Smyslov variation (D99)>

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>

This plan was developed in preparation for the <1948 WCC>. Smyslov: "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>


-<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>


-<Slav Defense: Smyslov Variation (D16)>

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.a4 <Na6>


-<Ruy Lopez Fianchetto Defense (C60)>

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

Smyslov revived this line at <Szolnok 1975>







[<1> Vasily Smyslov, "Smyslov's 125 Selected Games" Ken Neat transl. Cadogen, 1983

2 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)

3 P.H. Clarke, "V.V. Smyslov, 1952-57." Published in Vasily Smyslov, "My Best Games of Chess (1935-1957)"

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

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

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

7 Andrew Soltis, "Soviet Chess 1917-1991" McFarland, 1997

8 Harry Golombek "The World Chess Championships of 1957 and 1958" Hardinge Simpole, 1958

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

10 Mikhail Botvinnik, "Botvinnik's Complete Games (1942-1956) and Selected Writings (Part 2)" Kean Neat ed., transl. Olomouc, 2012. -Originally published in Mikhail Botvinnik, "Match Botvinnik-Smyslov" (Fizkultura i sport, Moscow 1955)

11 Mikhail Botvinnik "Achieving the Aim" Bernard Cafferty, transl. Pergamon, 1981

12 Dmitry Plisetsky and Sergey Voronkov, "Russians vs. Fischer" Ken Neat transl. Everyman Chess, 2005

Tournament Sources

[-<18th Moscow Championship 1938> <[rusbase-9]>

-<Gorky National 1st Category Tournament 1938 (2d group)> <[rusbase-10]>


 page 1 of 105; games 1-25 of 2,624  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. K Gerasimov vs Smyslov 0-1221935MoscowD05 Queen's Pawn Game
2. Smyslov vs V Zak 1-0361938MoscowA43 Old Benoni
3. Smyslov vs M Recash 1-0231938MoscowB10 Caro-Kann
4. N Zanozdra vs Smyslov 1-0251938Ch URS (juniors)B17 Caro-Kann, Steinitz Variation
5. Smyslov vs Lilienthal 1-0561938Moscow-chC11 French
6. V Baturinsky vs Smyslov 0-1341938Moscow-chC45 Scotch Game
7. Averbakh vs Smyslov 0-1241939Moscow-chA06 Reti Opening
8. Smyslov vs Kan  ½-½311939Leningrad/Moscow trainingC43 Petrov, Modern Attack
9. Smyslov vs Konstantinopolsky 1-0571939Leningrad/Moscow trainingC77 Ruy Lopez
10. Alatortsev vs Smyslov 0-1401939Leningrad/Moscow trainingE47 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3
11. Smyslov vs V Makogonov ½-½491939Leningrad/Moscow trainingB10 Caro-Kann
12. S Belavenets vs Smyslov 0-1361939Leningrad/Moscow trainingD02 Queen's Pawn Game
13. Smyslov vs Ragozin 0-1351939Leningrad/Moscow trainingC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
14. Panov vs Smyslov ½-½421939Leningrad/Moscow trainingC77 Ruy Lopez
15. Smyslov vs Goglidze 1-0801939Leningrad/Moscow trainingB83 Sicilian
16. Reshevsky vs Smyslov 1-0701939Leningrad/Moscow trainingD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
17. Smyslov vs Tolush 0-1241939Leningrad/Moscow trainingC16 French, Winawer
18. P Romanovsky vs Smyslov  ½-½431939Leningrad/Moscow trainingD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
19. Smyslov vs Levenfish  ½-½631939Leningrad/Moscow trainingC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
20. Lilienthal vs Smyslov ½-½421939Leningrad/Moscow trainingD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
21. Smyslov vs Flohr ½-½431939Leningrad/Moscow trainingC77 Ruy Lopez
22. Keres vs Smyslov 1-0331939Leningrad/Moscow trainingD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
23. Smyslov vs I Rabinovich  ½-½311939Leningrad/Moscow trainingB77 Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack
24. Bondarevsky vs Smyslov 1-0261939Leningrad/Moscow trainingE85 King's Indian, Samisch, Orthodox Variation
25. Lilienthal vs Smyslov 0-1531939Moscow-chE26 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch
 page 1 of 105; games 1-25 of 2,624  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Smyslov wins | Smyslov loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 52 OF 53 ·  Later Kibitzing>
May-15-15  Howard: Focus certainly seems to know a lot of them, judging from his recent postings.
May-15-15  A.T PhoneHome: Indeed. :P as for the man (Vasily Smyslov), he is one of those very few I consider to be an artist in chess.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <A considerable role in the forming of my style was played by an early attraction to study composition> - Vasily Smyslov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <In my opinion, the style of a player should not be formed under the influence of any single great master> - Vasily Smyslov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <No fantasy, however rich, no technique, however masterly, no penetration into the psychology of the opponent, however deep, can make a chess game a work of art, if these qualities, do not lead to the main goal - the search for truth> - Vasily Smyslov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Despite the development of chess theory, there is much that remains secret and unexplored in chess> - Vasily Smyslov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <My fascination for studies proved highly beneficial, it assisted the development of my aesthetic understanding of chess, and improved my endgame play> - Vasily Smyslov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Smyslov has a very safe style and he represents the real positional player. He has something in common with the late Dr. Lasker in the way he does not try to gain advantage out of the openings by study, but applies on them the general principles of chess> - Imre Konig, writing about Smyslov after his victory at Zurich 1953 in the San Francisco Argonaut, November 5, 1953.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <In chess I am also a staunch supporter of classical clarity of thought. The content of a game should be a search for truth, and victory a demonstration of its rightness. No fantasy, however rich, no technique, however masterly. no penetration into the psychology of the opponent, however deep, can make a chess game a work of art, if these qualities do not lead to the main goal - the search for the truth> - Vasily Smyslov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Smyslov was a practitioner, while Botvinnik was a researcher. Vasily Vasilievich played more intuitive chess. Botvinnik wanted to study all the nuances, and Smyslov's playing was like a stream of chess consciousness. Though in his best years his principle was quite simple: I make 40 good moves, and if my partner also makes 40 good moves, then there's a draw> - Gary Kasparov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: On "The Hand":

<His hand knows on which square to place every piece, and he does not need to calculate anything with his head> - Boris Spassky in an interview circa 1977 talking about Vassily Smyslov.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Part 2:

<When you look at his games, you have that light feeling as if his hand is making the moves all by itself while the man is making no effort at all - just like he was drinking coffee or reading a newspaper! This has the feel of Mozart's light touch! No stress, no effort, everything is simple yet brilliant> - Vladimir Kramnik talking about Vassily Smyslov

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Simple positions give an inexperienced player an opportunity not only to understand, but also to feel deeply what each piece is able to do> - Vasily Smyslov.
Premium Chessgames Member

As I mentioned last week, this most uncometlike chess player has an asteroid named after him.

It is minor planet 5413. That's the good news.

The bad news for us is that it is scheduled to collide with the earth on Wednesday, August 20th 2021 with an impact of about 220,000 Yottatonnes of TNT. That is the equivalent of 90 tunguskas sellotaped on top of 255 krakatoas.

The fact that the asteroid is named after a former world champion will definitely bring our great game into disrepute.

Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: Huh? I went through all websites monitoring potential threats to the Earth, and found no such info. Not even with some extremely low probability
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <alexmagnus> Well then stop waiting around for asteroids and get busy!

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: As they say in the great big state of Texas, Smyslov is stronger.
Mar-24-16  paavoh: To me, he was and continues to be the JS Bach of chess. Such lucidity, clarity and harmony. I guess his affinity to chess compositions shows.
Mar-24-16  Howard: And he was stronger than Seirawan...whose birthday is also today!
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Rook Endgame maestro.
Premium Chessgames Member
  eternaloptimist: I love to play over GM Smyslov's games. He was definitely 1 of the best endgame players of all time & he was a strong enough player to beat Botvinnik for the World Championship. When I think of him, I think of this game.: Bondarevsky vs Smyslov, 1946 Indeed GM Bondarevsky played too passively but I think it's a really cool game b/c Smyslov was able to push ♙s on *both* sides of the board & suffocate Bondarevsky's position. Smyslov had tons of space & used that to get the victory. Smyslov showed a very high level of understanding in this game. Of course Smyslov defeated stronger GMs than Bondarevsky but still this game is very instructive as Chernev explained in 1 of his books. As <plang> kibitzed at this game, "...Smyslov at his best...".
Mar-25-16  waustad: The 95th anniversary of the birth of one of the most elegant players ever. He played beautiful chess in the Capablanca, Karpov sort of style. RIP
Mar-25-16  luftforlife: "For a long time others took first place, but Smyslov obstinately continued to go his own way. It was as if he believed: what I create neither time nor fresh analyses will erase. When the vogue for fixed systems had passed, Smyslov's moment had come."

GM Svetozar Gligoric, The World Chess Championship (Lovett P. Edwards tr., R.G. Wade ed.) (London: Harper & Row 1972), 12.

"[A]mong contemporary masters, it is he who has invented the greatest number of basic new ideas in the Ruy Lopez, French Defence, Caro-Kann, Queen's Gambit accepted, Slav Defence, the Nimzo-Indian, the Grünfeld Defence, the English Opening, and even in irregular systems."

GM Gligoric, id. at 15.

"In chess, as in life, a man is his own most dangerous opponent."

GM Vasily Smyslov, quoted in id. at 14.

Mar-25-16  luftforlife: <A.T PhoneHome>: Heinrich Fraenkel Assiac, The Delights of Chess (New York: Dover Publications 1974), 70 ("Befitting his monumental stature and imposing appearance, he is what may be called a stately walker. He walks in slow and measured step . . . .").

Cf. GM Svetozar Gligoric, The World Chess Championship (Lovett P. Edwards tr., R.G. Wade ed.) (London: Harper & Row 1972), 11 ("Tall and strongly built, he walks firmly and steadily . . . his movements slow and dignified.").

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Rest in peace, Vasily Smyslov.
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