"Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you." - Arnold Palmer

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Vasily The Seventh

Vasily Vasilyevich Smyslov (Василий Васильевич Смыслов; 1921 – 2010) was a Soviet and Russian chess grandmaster, and was World Chess Champion from 1957 to 1958. He was a Candidate for the World Chess Championship on eight occasions (1948, 1950, 1953, 1956, 1959, 1965, 1983, and 1985). Smyslov was twice equal first at the Soviet Championship (1949, 1955), and his total of 17 Chess Olympiad medals won is an all-time record. In five European Team Championships, Smyslov won ten gold medals.
Following very instructive rook ending is just a fragment of Smyslov's game against American grandmaster Pal Benko.

 Smyslov was master of strategy and endings. He published an excellent textbook on rook endings ("Rook Endings", Batsford, 1971) together with another famous Soviet grandmaster Grigory Levenfish
Less known fact was that Smyslov used to be a fine baritone opera singer, who only positively decided upon a chess career after a failed audition with the Bolshoi Theatre in 1950. He once said, "I have always lived between chess and music." On the occasion of a game against Mikhail Botvinnik, he sang to an audience of thousands. He occasionally gave recitals during chess tournaments, often accompanied by fellow Grandmaster and concert pianist Mark Taimanov. Smyslov once wrote that he tried to achieve harmony on the chess board, with each piece assisting the others.

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