Vasily Smyslov

Smyslov played four times for the World Championship: he came second to Botvinnik in the 1948 tournament (following Alekhin's death), and then he played Botvinnik three times, drawing in 1954 (so Botvinnik kept the title), winning in 1957, but losing again in 1958.

Smyslov was a fine singer and musician, and his games are known for their sense of art and harmony. He was not known for great research and analysis, more insight and intuition -- he played all openings with seemingly equal ease, especially the flexible hypermodern openings like the Reti.

His great intuition made one the pawn sacrifice of his favourite weapons

[Event "USSR Championship"]
[Site "Moscow URS"]
[Date "1955.02.28"]
[EventDate "1955.??.??"]
[Round "11"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Vasily Smyslov"]
[Black "Mikhail Botvinnik"]
[ECO "A07"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "55"]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.O-O O-O 5.d3 c5 6.e4 Nc6 7.Nbd2
d6 8.a4 Ne8 9.Nc4 e5 10.c3 f5 11.b4! cxb4 12.cxb4 fxe4 13.dxe4
Be6 14.Ne3 Nxb4 15.Rb1 a5 16.Ba3 Nc7 17.Bxb4 axb4 18.Rxb4 Bh6
19.Rb6 Bxe3 20.fxe3 Bc4 21.Rxd6 Qe8 22.Re1 Rf7 23.Ng5 Re7
24.Bf1 Bxf1 25.Rxf1 Qxa4 26.Rd8+ Re8 27.Qf3 Qc4 28.Rd7 1-0

Smyslov was a great endgame player -- I mean, all the champions were good endgame players, but Smyslov could beat the best in the world with his technique.

[Event "model ending: rooks and minors"]
[Site "model ending: rooks and minor"]
[Date "1953.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Gligoric, Svetozar"]
[Black "Smyslov, Vasily"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A30"]
[PlyCount "82"]

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. g3 b6 5. Bg2 Bb7 6. O-O Be7 7. d4 cxd4 8. Qxd4
O-O 9. Rd1 Nc6 10. Qf4 Qb8 11. Qxb8 Raxb8 12. Bf4 Rbc8 13. Bd6 Bxd6 14. Rxd6
Ne7 15. Ne5 {?} Bxg2 16. Kxg2 Nf5 17. Rd2 d6 18. e4 Nxg3 19. hxg3 dxe5 20. b3 {
[#]  1. Exchange one pair of rooks only. 2. Deflect wR to h-file, control
d-file 3. Attack e5, tying up pieces and undermining pawns. 5. Invade with king
} Rfd8 {( prevent counterplay )} 21. Rad1 Rxd2 {( prevent counterplay, prevent
complications )} 22. Rxd2 Kf8 {( use your king )} 23. f3 Ke7 24. Kf2 h5 {(
establish clear plan and follow it )} 25. Ke3 g5 26. Rh2 Rd8 {( don't be on a
hurry. improve your position )} 27. Rh1 g4 {( follow your plan )} 28. fxg4
Nxg4+ 29. Ke2 Nf6 30. Ke3 Rd4 {( don't be in a hurry )} 31. Rf1 Ng4+ 32. Ke2
Kf8 {( use your king )} 33. Rf3 Kg7 34. Rd3 Kf6 {! ( change plan if we're
going to play a knight ending )} 35. Rxd4 exd4 36. Nb5 {( use your king )} Ke5
37. Nxa7 Kxe4 38. Nc8 d3+ {( passed pawns must be pushed )} 39. Kd2 Kd4 40. c5
bxc5 {( avoid complications )} 41. Nd6 Ne5 {[#]  0-1 ( black is two pawns
ahead and has all the play ) Annotations are from MEDNIS} 0-1


"My father instilled in me a love for so-called 'simple positions', with the participation of only a few pieces. I was able to gain a deep feeling for what each piece is capable of, to sense their peculiarities, their strength and importance in various different situations on the board, the limits of their capabilities, what they 'like' and what they 'don't like' and how they behave... Such a 'mutual understanding' with the pieces enables a player to see that which often remains concealed to purely logical analysis. It is then that the innate ability of a player, which I call a sense of harmony, manifests itself". - Vasily Smyslov

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