Vasily Vasilievich Smyslov 1921-2010
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.