Vasily Vasilievich Smyslov 1921-2010

  • NM GreenLaser
  • | Apr 10, 2010

Vasily Smyslov, the former world champion, died on March 27, 2010. He was born on March 24, 1921. His passing has been reported in newspapers and chess sites that included some of his achievements and games.

Smyslov first played for the world championship in 1948 as one of five players invited to determine a successor to Alexander Alekhine, who had died. That event was won by Mikhail Botvinnik (14/20), three points ahead of Smyslov, who came in second. In 1953, Smyslov won the Candidates Tournament in Zurich with a score of 17.5/27. He was 1.5 points ahead of Keres, Bronstein, and Reshevsky. This victory earned him a match with Botvinnik which took place in 1954. The result was a 12-12 tie, which meant Botvinnik retained the title. In 1957, Smyslov again was the challenger and defeated Botvinnik 12.5-9.5. The rules provided for a rematch held in 1958. Botvinnik regained the title by winning 12.5-10.5. Smyslov was required to defeat Botvinnik once and tie the rematch to keep the title. After losing, Smyslov was not entitled to a rematch. Later, the rule changed to omit the rematch for a champion who loses. Smyslov played in candidates matches as late as 1983, but never earned another match for the world championship.

I have selected a game that I have not seen in any of the articles published after Smyslov's death. It is not known as one of his greatest, but displays Smyslov's positional strength backed by his tactical prowess in an Orthodox Queen's Gambit Declined. His opponent is the great Hungarian player who also competed in candidates matches, Lajos Portisch. The event was Tilburg 1984. Smyslov and Portisch were still great players, but appeared to be declining compared with the competition. Portisch scored 5.5/11 for seventh place and Smyslov scored 4.5/11 for tenth place. Anthony Miles was first with 8/11. The notes include my analysis and game references as well as suggestions from Smyslov. Watch for his idea of a queen sacrifice that did not occur.




  • 7 years ago



  • 7 years ago


    Very interesting game and analysis of it, thanx for sharing...

  • 7 years ago

    NM GreenLaser

    antidote wrote, "how about 23. Nxc4? it doesn't lead to such tactical horrors as Rx, but then it's not a sacrifice either, it's a simple gain."

    Thanks for a good question that I should have dealt with in the notes. If 23.Nxc4, Black has 23...b5 winning a piece. After 23.Rxc4, as played, 23...b5 is not as effective. That is shown in the notes.

  • 7 years ago


    how about 23. Nxc4? it doesn't lead to such tactical horrors as Rx, but then it's not a sacrifice either, it's a simple gain.

  • 7 years ago

    NM GreenLaser

    pestaa, thanks for the tip. Bold text helps me to read and edit my work. Perhaps, your eyes are younger than mine and grew up with a computer screen. I remember when storekeepers used pencils and brown bags to do arithmetic.

  • 7 years ago


    It'd help to increase readability if not all text was bold. For the introductory paragraph it's ok...

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