Smyslov: Time To Build A New Legacy

Smyslov: Time To Build A New Legacy

| 29 | Editorials

Vasily_Smyslov2.jpgWhen the world chess community recently learned of the passing of the seventh world champion Vassily Smyslov, there was heartfelt sadness at the loss of a chess legend.

It is therefore shocking to read that reports now suggest that Vassily Vasilievich spent his last days in poverty.

TWIC translates from a Russian news article,

"Smyslov and his wife Nadezhda's final months were very troubled. Smyslov's wife suffered a fall in February and Smyslov himself was bedridden, and it seems they were not being helped or cared for. Smyslov had been poorly for around 3 months and was in serious condition with coronary heart disease and atrial fibrillation when he was finally admitted to hospital by which time it was too late".

How can such a fate have befallen someone so admired and held in high esteem by so many?

How we treat the poor and vulnerable is often viewed as a real marker of the health of our society. "A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization" - Samuel Johnson

I won't pretend to know what support might have been available to Smyslov and his wife from the Russian state, so I offer no comment.  But what shocks me more is the apparent lack of support from the chess world.

It may be the case that individuals offered whatever help they could, but if the circumstances of Smyslov's final days are really as described above then it is a stain on the collective conscience of the chess world.

Vassily Vasilievich Smyslov gave his life to chess and left us with many great games as a wonderful legacy.  He deserved more in return.

As far as I know there is no organised support available from FIDE in these circumstances.  If there is, then it clearly failed in this instance. What more fitting tribute to Smyslov's memory could there be than the establishment of an effective benevolent fund, so that we never have to bear witness to such preventable suffering again?

So please FIDE, please Mr. Illyumzhinov, put some of FIDE's money to good use by establishing a charitable fund for this purpose.  Let's build a lasting legacy in Smyslov's memory that we can all be proud of.

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