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Vasily Smyslov vs Samuel Reshevsky
"Slippery Vasily" (game of the day May-26-2004)
FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948), The Hague NED / Moscow URS, rd 11, Apr-11
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Modern Steinitz Defense (C75)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: The Russian pulls this one out with superior endplay
May-26-04  Minor Piece Activity: Nice play. Is Smyslov still alive? =D
May-26-04  Woodpusher: 26.Qh4!
May-26-04  LordDukeNukem: Super play of genius palyer! Smyslov was definetely alive in 2002 in the age of 82 if i'm not mistaken..
Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: Smyslov definitely still alive. He has gotten very interested in composing studies and authored a book called "My Studies". At this point I believe it has only been published in Russian. I consider Smyslov among the all time great players even though he only held the World Championship one year, losing the rematch to Botvinnik. It took Kasparov to knock him out of the WC matches when he was in his 60s. Paul Albert
May-26-04  MalibogKantutero: Smyslov is in his mid-80's at the moment. One of the greatest of all time, notable for his excellent endgame play. He's also an opera singer. I believe he's +1 or +2 against Botvinnik in all of their World Championship matches, although Botvinnik maintains a +8 overall. David Bronstein is over 80 & still alive. Andre Lilienthal is over 90 & still alive & kicking!
Nov-09-04  Helloween: Beautiful play with 25.Bxe6 and 26.Qh4, winning the d6 pawn. This game is exemplary of Smyslov's best play.
Nov-09-04  Calli: Euwe recommended 16...Qc8. But perhaps Reshevsky was afraid Bxh6 then or later.
Feb-24-05  chess man: Beautiful endgame play displayed by Smyslov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: In my own opinion, not only is this great endgame play by Smyslov, it might go down as one of the "Ten Greatest R+P endings of all time."

---> At the time that this game was played, endgame theory generally considered the endgame of "Four versus two," with an outside Passed QRP (for Black) ... to be drawn.

This exceptional ending is analyzed in my "Endgame School." (

Jun-11-06  CapablancaFan: <LIFE Master AJ: In my own opinion, not only is this great endgame play by Smyslov, it might go down as one of the "Ten Greatest R+P endings of all time."> This was a good R+P endgame, but the greatest? I believe this game is probably the best. Capablanca vs Tartakower, 1924
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: A very well played and instructive game by Symslov.

Reshevsky attempted to improve on the opening from Rd 1, Euwe - Keres. In that game Keres played 12...exd4 13.Nxd4 Re8. Euwe had a small advantage in this position. However, Reshevsky's 12th move is inferior to 12...exd4. Golombek explains in the tournament book that Reshevsky's 12...Re8 is incorrect, because White can now exchange with advantage.

At move 15, Golombek indicates that 15...Na5 was better.

At move 16, Golombek states: <And now he should have tried 16...Qc8; however, his position is already precarious>

The resulting Rook and Pawn endgame, was considered to be clearly winning for White at the time this game was played.

In the tournament book, Golombek states after 26.Qh4: < An ingenious move that forces the win of the Q Pawn, and of the game, despite Reshevsky's subsequent wriggles>

At move 31, Golombek states: <Equally fatal is 31...Nxe4 32.Rxe6 Ng5 33.Re7 Rc6 34.Be3>

After move 36, Golombek states: <The Rook and Pawn ending is hopelessly lost for Black, and Smyslov condusts it in mercilessly accurate fashion.>

After White's 38th move, Golombek states: <The winning method is limpidly clear: the King must usher the K side Pawn majority down the board>

After Black's 41st move, Golombek states: <The sealed move; Black could also quite tranquilly resign. He cannot shut out the white King by 41...Ra6, since then White plays first f3 and then Kg3-Kf4 and Pe5.>

Golombek also relates the following about the ending of this game:

<...when the game was adjourned on the 41st move Reshevsky had a clearly lost Rook and Pawn ending. On resumption of play, Reshevsky was quite surprised to see the hall once more full with some 2,000 spectators anxious to see the end of the game. Reshevsky asked Kotov why so many people had come to watch a spectacle that could only be brief and not particularly instructive. Kotov replied that Reshevsky was well known for his resoucefulness in critical situations, and they wanted to see what he could do when faced with such a difficult problem. But the American Champion said mournfully that this time it was too late for any tactical jokes, and so it proved, for the game lasted only another nine moves, Smyslov finding the simplest and most forceful finishing touch>

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: <CapaFan>
Please notice that I said one of the top ten or ten greatest of all time.

Anyone familiar with my work or my web pages knows I have annotated the game that you refer to ... and consider it (also) to be one of the ten best. (A personal favorite ... aand maybe the greatest ever.)

Jun-12-06  Marmot PFL: I have to agree with Reshevksy here- playing over the game and choosing white's next move I found the rook ending rather easy. Smyslov found some very nice midgame moves to exploit Reshevsky's dubious opening (often his weakness). Considering that white had an edge in both space and development as well as the bishop pair against two knights it would be surprising if Smyslov didn't win.
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: I should qualify my last post.

I consider the R+P endgame phase of Capa-Tartakower, 1924 ... to be perhaps the greatest ROOK-plus-PAWN endgame ever played. (Its also a personal favorite.)

Jan-04-08  Dr. Siggy: In the exciting <The World vs Gert Jan Timmerman> challenge, promoted by <> in 2007, the following (possible) rook endgame was indicated (by me) as a winner for White:

click for larger view

As I have stated, this is "[...] a well known 'book win': an active Rook and two (future) connected passed pawns against a passive Rook and one passed pawn." And, to support my statement, I have pointed out Reuben Fine, "Basic Chess Endings", New York 1941, pages 353 sqq..

To my complete astonishment, an experienced correspondence chessplayer, in page 957 of the main forum of <The World vs Gert Jan Timmerman> game, has thrown doubts over my statement and Fine's teaching.

Since it may be of use to less experienced chessplayers, I leave here a proof that both Fine and I were right - a proof given by none other than the former World Chess Champion, Vassily Smyslov.

The position over the board after Black's 37th move is as follows:

click for larger view

“The White pawn mass on the Kingside puts an end to Black’s desperate resistance” (Kasparov).

To whom may be interested, another very good proof of my statement, taken out of recent praxis, is <Motylev vs Brodsky, Bucarest 2001>.

Sep-06-10  andreagiananti: why does black develop the king knight to e7 in the opening? This looks really passive. Is it an old fashioned line?
Mar-03-12  PinnedPiece: GTM Score=108 Par=91

I made many moves in the last 10 that were not Smylov's but got credit anyway.

Example: on the last move I played Kxg7 rather than Ra7+. Got full credit.


Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Perhaps a dozen sources have published this game, primarily due to Smyslov's technique in the Rook and pawns ending.

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