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Vladimir Selimanov
Number of games in database: 11
Years covered: 1957
Overall record: +7 -2 =2 (72.7%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

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A05 Reti Opening (2 games)

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(born Feb-21-1939, died 1960, 21 years old) Russia

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Vladimir Sergeevich Selimanov was the adopted son of World Champion Vasily Smyslov. He finished fourth, a disappointing result for a Soviet player, at the World Junior Championship (1957). William James Lombardy of the United States won with 11-0, the only perfect score in the tournament's history. Three years later, he killed himself. Accounts differ as to whether he did so because of his poor tournament result (Andrew Soltis) or because the authorities would not let him leave the USSR to marry a girl he had met in Toronto (Lombardy).


A Russian-language video about Smyslov, the last 14 seconds of which show him playing chess with Selimanov, is at

 page 1 of 1; 11 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. V Selimanov vs M Gerusel  0-1401957World Junior ChampionshipE42 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 c5, 5.Ne2 (Rubinstein)
2. A Jongsma vs V Selimanov  ½-½791957World Junior ChampionshipA05 Reti Opening
3. V Selimanov vs Rodolfo Cardoso  1-0411957World Junior ChampionshipE56 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line with 7...Nc6
4. V Selimanov vs Lombardy 0-1401957World Junior ChampionshipC96 Ruy Lopez, Closed
5. P Bates vs V Selimanov 0-1361957World Junior ChampionshipA04 Reti Opening
6. V Selimanov vs I Bahgat  1-0311957World Junior ChampionshipB32 Sicilian
7. R Hallerod vs V Selimanov  ½-½341957World Junior ChampionshipB60 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer
8. V Selimanov vs F Jobin  1-0321957World Junior ChampionshipD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
9. J Aldrete vs V Selimanov  0-1431957World Junior ChampionshipA05 Reti Opening
10. V Selimanov vs B Rabinowitz 1-0211957World Junior ChampionshipB01 Scandinavian
11. T Makelainen vs V Selimanov 0-1511957World Junior ChampionshipA23 English, Bremen System, Keres Variation
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Selimanov wins | Selimanov loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-28-11  Antiochus: Smyslov was 27 when he married his wife, Nadezhda, and adopted her son, Vladimir Selimanov, whose father had been killed in a Stalinist purge. Smyslov, who owed his love of chess to his own father, a strong amateur, became Vladimir's mentor.

In 1957, the family reached a pinnacle when Smyslov won the World Championship and Vladimir was the Soviet entrant in the World Junior in Toronto.

But Selimanov, then 18, lost in the first round to William Lombardy of New York and in the second to Mathias Gerusel of West Germany. He finished a disappointing fourth.

"At that time, such a performance was viewed almost as treason to the motherland," wrote an interviewer on the site on March 26, 2008, noting that Smyslov and his wife never talk of what happened to Vladimir next: "Soon after his return, he killed himself."

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: I read that someplace recently. What a horrible story.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: I never knew this. That is sad.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: I have Bozidar Kazic's book International Championship Chess. I had noticed there that Selimanov had finished fourth in the 1957 championship, and had thought it odd that I'd never heard of the guy again. I'd wondered if he got sent to Siberia or something.
Nov-30-11  Antiochus: Tragic. Smyslov never again got the results that their fans expected him.

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1957.??.??"]
[White "Selimanov"]
[Black "Rabinovich"]
[Round "?"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B01"]

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. d4 Nxd5 4. Nf3 Bg4 5. Be2
c6 6. O-O e6 7. c4 Nb6 8. Nc3 N8d7 9. h3
Bh5 10. d5 cxd5 11. cxd5 exd5 12. Nxd5 Be7 13. Bf4
Nxd5 14. Qxd5 Bxf3 15. Bxf3 O-O 16. Qxb7 Rc8 17. Rad1 Nc5 18. Rxd8 Nxb7 19. Rxf8+ Kxf8 20. Bxb7 Rd8 21. Rc1 1-0

Gerusel played some humilliant moves in the next game...

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1957.??.??"]
[White "Selimanov"]
[Black "Gerusel,Mathias"]
[Round "?"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E42"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 5. Nge2
cxd4 6. exd4 d5 7. a3 Be7 8. Nf4 dxc4 9. Bxc4
O-O 10. O-O Nbd7 11. Qe2 Nb6 12. Ba2 Bd7 13. d5
exd5 14. Nfxd5 Nfxd5 15. Nxd5 Bd6 16. Be3 Bc6 17. Nxb6 axb6 18. Rfd1 Qc7 19. Qh5 Ra5 20. Qh4 g6 21. f4
Re8 22. Qf2 Rxe3 23. Qxe3 Bxf4 24. Rd8+ Qxd8 25. Qxf4 Rf5 26. Qe3 Qf6 27. Qd2 Bxg2 28. Qxg2 Rg5 29. Bxf7+
Kxf7 30. Rf1 Rxg2+ 31. Kxg2 b5 32. Rxf6+ Kxf6 33. Kf3 g5 34. Kg4 Kg6 35. h4 h5+ 36. Kg3 g4 37. Kf4
Kf6 38. b3 Kg6 39. a4 bxa4 40. bxa4 b6 0-1

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Lombardy in his new book says that Soltis' account is B.S. According to Lombardy, Selimanov fell in love with a girl in Toronto and wanted to move to Toronto to be with her. When the Soviet authorities refused, the lovesick lad killed himself. It's not clear to me how Lombardy thinks he knows Selimanov's motivation. He also says (plausibly enough) that Smyslov had plenty of clout and could have made this happen, but that he doesn't think Selimanov told him. (Again, I don't know how he could know what Smyslov knew or didn't know.) Weird story - you'd think if your stepfather were someone like Smyslov, you'd see if he could help before you went and killed yourself.
Jan-28-12  King Death: <FSR> Somehow I can picture the kid going to Vasya:

Vlad: Pop I'm crazy in love for this girl in Canada where streets are paved with gold.

Dad: Vlad I tell you that is capitalist lie, you stay here. I'm the champion of the world finally and I could get you out but what if I lose to the Patriarch in the rematch? Then I have nothing and Misha make your life living hell. Oh I forget there's no hell, that's only for capitalists that think they get punished when they die. Besides love is capitalist myth to keep their workers in line. Stupid bourgeois emotion.

Vlad: Okay I stay in the Workers Paradise, maybe they let me bring girl here so she can see how good we got it.

Dad: Son I knew you'd see the light, the Motherland is path to everything good. Vladimir Ilyich showed us all the way long ago.

Jan-28-12  Shams: I'm surprised this story isn't better known. First I've heard of it.
Jan-28-12  King Death: <Shams> Actually I never heard it either until now.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: According to the version Soltis quotes, Selimanov killed himself because he was disgraced by finishing fourth at the World Junior Championship.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: For my impressions of Lombardy's new book, see William James Lombardy.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Selimanov finished 4th with an 8-3 score, doubtless a disappointment. It probably didn't help that he arrived a day late because of a delay in securing a Canadian visa, and had to play the top three finishers in the first three rounds. He lost in Round 1 to Lombardy, and in Round 2 to Gerusel, then drew Jongsma in Round 3. He scored 7.5/8 against the rest of the field.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Sosonko discusses the Selimanov tragedy in the current issue of New in Chess (2015 #7) without reaching a conclusion as to why Selimanov killed himself.

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