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Vasily Smyslov
XIV Schach-Olympiade Leipzig, 1960  

Number of games in database: 2,794
Years covered: 1935 to 2001
Last FIDE rating: 2494
Highest rating achieved in database: 2620
Overall record: +965 -312 =1463 (61.9%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 54 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (174) 
    B92 B22 B40 B58 B42
 English (143) 
    A15 A13 A14 A10 A16
 Ruy Lopez (111) 
    C77 C92 C97 C79 C98
 King's Indian (88) 
    E61 E60 E62 E66 E94
 Reti System (79) 
    A05 A04 A06
 English, 1 c4 c5 (74) 
    A30 A33 A36 A35 A37
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (230) 
    C60 C92 C76 C69 C67
 Slav (150) 
    D18 D10 D11 D15 D17
 Nimzo Indian (126) 
    E54 E32 E41 E55 E34
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (101) 
    C92 C98 C97 C93 C84
 Grunfeld (77) 
    D94 D98 D85 D86 D76
 English, 1 c4 e5 (76) 
    A28 A21 A29 A22 A20
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Smyslov vs I Rudakovsky, 1945 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1954 0-1
   Smyslov vs Reshevsky, 1948 1-0
   Smyslov vs V Liberzon, 1968 1-0
   Keres vs Smyslov, 1953 0-1
   K Gerasimov vs Smyslov, 1935 0-1
   Gligoric vs Smyslov, 1959 0-1
   Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1954 1-0
   Smyslov vs C Kottnauer, 1946 1-0
   Smyslov vs Ribli, 1983 1-0

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: [what is this?]
   FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948)
   Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Match (1954)
   Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Match (1957)
   Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship Rematch (1958)

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Moscow Championship (1942)
   Zuerich Candidates (1953)
   Moscow Championship 1944/45 (1945)
   USSR Championship (1949)
   Zagreb (1955)
   Capablanca Memorial (1964)
   Amsterdam Interzonal (1964)
   Havana (1965)
   USSR Championship (1944)
   Venice (1950)
   USSR Championship (1940)
   Palma de Mallorca (1967)
   USSR Championship (1951)
   Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959)
   Capablanca Memorial (1962)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Match Smyslov! by docjan
   Match Smyslov! by amadeus
   Near to Perfection (200 best games of Smyslov) by Gottschalk
   SmyslovV and SpasskyB Games by fredthebear
   Road to the Championship - Vasily Smyslov by suenteus po 147
   0ZeR0's Favorite Games Volume 68 by 0ZeR0
   125 Selected Games by Vasily Smyslov by Okavango
   125 Selected Games by Vasily Smyslov by suenteus po 147
   125 Selected Games by Vasily Smyslov by Incremental
   125 Selected Games by Vasily Smyslov by Turtle Warrior
   125 Selected Games by Vasily Smyslov by vrkfouri
   125 Selected Games by Vasily Smyslov by enog
   125 Selected Games by Vasily Smyslov by Southernrun
   125 Selected Games by Vasily Smyslov by igiene

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Vasily Smyslov
Search Google for Vasily Smyslov

(born Mar-24-1921, died Mar-27-2010, 89 years old) Russia
[what is this?]
Vasily Vasiliyevich Smyslov was born in Moscow. A talented singer, Smyslov narrowly missed joining the Bolshoi Opera. Opera's loss was the chess world's gain. He was awarded the Soviet Grandmaster title in 1941. Moscow champion of 1942. He took his first win over Botvinnik at Moscow championship of 1943. Moscow champion of 1944/5. Sub-champion of the World in 1948. Shared the first place with David Bronstein in the 1949 Soviet Championship. Winner of Chigorin Memorial 1951. After his success at Zurich 1953, he became the challenger in 1954, but tied the match with Botvinnik. Soviet champion in 1955 sharing the first place with Efim Geller. Again winner of the Candidates Tournaments at Amsterdam 1956 and after winner of Alekhine memorial (drawing Botvinnik) the way was paved for Smyslov to become the 7th World Champion when he defeated Mikhail Botvinnik in 1957. His reign was short-lived as Botvinnik regained the title a year later. Smyslov would go on to many tournament victories such as Amsterdam 1964 (jointly), Havana 1965 in front of Robert James Fischer, and Monte Carlo 1969. In 1982 at the Las Palmas Interzonal Tournament, Smyslov finished second and qualified for the Candidates Matches, and at age 61 advanced past Robert Huebner in the quarter-finals (winning the spin of a roulette wheel to decide the tied match), then defeating Zoltan Ribli in the semi-final, before losing to young challenger Garry Kasparov in the final. Vasily Smyslov crowned a remarkable career by becoming the first Senior World Champion at Bad Worishofen in 1991. His father Vasily Osipovich Smyslov also played and was a strong amateur player.

Crosstables and other info can be found here:
[rusbase-1] [rusbase-2]$...
[rusbase-4] [rusbase-5]

Smyslov Videos:
Singing, playing piano, beating Botvinnik (1957) Receiving World Championship Laurels (1957) Walking with Keres in the Netherlands (1948)

Wikipedia article: Vasily Smyslov


<Revision and Expansion> of this bio under construction by JFQ.


His father was an "Economic Engineer" working in the "Department for the Preparation of Securities" <125 Games, 1>

Lived in a small flat in an old house on the outskirts of Moscow. Highlight of our life was a 'Schroeder' piano, on which my father used to play. He began teaching me piano and chess <125 Games, 2>

Autumn 1938- 1st year student at the Moscow School of Aviation <Romanovsky xii>

"Starting in 1948, I seriously studied singing under Professor Konstantin Zlobin, whom I met by chance in Leningrad in 1947, when I was playing in the 15th USSR Championship. For many years I took lessons from him, and even appeared in a singing competition in the Bolshoi Theatre. But, as in the life of my father, singing remained something for my own satisfaction." <125 Games, 17>

Father Vasily Osipovich Smyslov taught him to play chess at age 7. <125 Games, 1>

After winning a rook odds match against his Uncle Kirill, he was given Alekhine's "Best Games" as a prize. Inscription: 'To the winner of the match, to future champion Vasya Smyslov' <125 Games, 1>

Soviet Grandmaster

Summer of 1935 participated in 1st chess event. Unrated players in chess club of Gorky Park. He won this and two more, by the end of the summer he was 3d Category. <125 Games, 4-5>

Fall 1935, joins the Moskvoretsky House of Pioneers. <125 Games, 5>

"In 1936 he entered the second category, and in the autumn of the same year the first category." <Romanovsky, xi>

In 1937- 1. <Moskvoretsky House of Pioneers Championship 1937> (Fall) 1st, 11-0. Had earned <1st Category rank> in autumn 1936

-<Smyslov> on his "happiest moment": At the championship of the Young Pioneers Stadium, where I won all 11 games, didn't give away a single draw, and there were strong players there, almost all of them became masters, I kept the tournament table from that event." <Sosonko> pp.126-27

Jan. 1938- Leningrad- Smyslov won the USSR under 18 Championship. <Averbakh p.34> Grigory Levenfish gave him 1st prize of an inscribed clock, which "continues to count out the time of my chess career.<125 Games, 9>

Shared 1-3 places with Anatoly Ufimtsev and Mark Moiseevich Stolberg in the <Gorky National 1st Category Tournament 1938 (2d group)> [rusbase-7] This result earned him the Candidate Master title. <Romanovsky, xi>

Shared 1st with Sergey Vsevolodovich Belavenets, ahead of Grandmaster Andre Lilienthal at <18th Moscow Championship 1938>, awarded Master Title. <125 Games, 9> <[rusbase-8]>

Finished 3d in the USSR Championship (1940), Finished 3d in the USSR Absolute Championship (1941)- "in accordance with the norms in existence, for these two successes I was awarded the title of USSR grandmaster." <125 Games, 9-10>

1st International tournament Groningen 1946.
Groningen (1946)
"third place... behind Mikhail Botvinnik and Max Euwe opened the way for my participation in the battle for the World Championship." <125 Games, 11>

World Champion

Smyslov's 2d in the <1948 WCC> seeded him into the <Budapest 1950 Candidates Tournament>. Budapest Candidates (1950)

They were to be joined by the unsuccessful invitees to the 1948 Championship, but only Vasily Smyslov and Paul Keres took their places.<nescio>

Smyslov: "3d place in the <Budapest 1950 Candidates Tournament> gave me the automatic right to a place in the next Candidates Tournament." <125 Games, 12>

1st in the <Zurich Candidates Tournament 1953> Zurich Candidates (1953)

1954 <World Championship Match> Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Match (1954) Drew Botvinnik, who retained championship on draw odds.

Candidates Cycling

Theoretical Contributions

-<Grunfeld Defense, Smyslov variation (D99)>

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0-0 7.e4 Bg4 8.Be3 <Nfd7>

This plan was developed in preparation for the <1948 WCC>. Smyslov: "The point of the plan, involving the transfer of the king's knight to b6, and the development of the other knight at c6, lies in piece pressure on White's pawn centre."> <125 Games, 11>


-<Ruy Lopez, Closed, Smyslov Defense (C93)>

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 <h6>


-<Slav Defense: Smyslov Variation (D16)>

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.a4 <Na6>


-<Ruy Lopez Fianchetto Defense (C60)>

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6

Smyslov revived this line at <Szolnok 1975>







[<1> Vasily Smyslov, "Smyslov's 125 Selected Games" Ken Neat transl. Cadogen, 1983

2 P.A. Romanovsky, "Vassily Vassilievitch Smyslov." Published in Vasily Smyslov, "My Best Games of Chess (1935-1957)" P.H. Clarke ed., transl. (Routledge and Kegan Paul 1958), pp. xi-xxvii (First published as "Izbrannie partii" in Russian in 1952)

3 P.H. Clarke, "V.V. Smyslov, 1952-57." Published in Vasily Smyslov, "My Best Games of Chess (1935-1957)"

4 Yuri Averbakh "Centre-Stage and Behind the Scenes" Steve Giddins transl. New in Chess, 2011

5 Genna Sosonko "The World Champions I Knew." New in Chess, 2013

6 Edward Winter, ed. "World Chess Champions." Pergamon Press, 1981

7 Andrew Soltis, "Soviet Chess 1917-1991" McFarland, 1997

8 Harry Golombek "The World Chess Championships of 1957 and 1958" Hardinge Simpole, 1958

9 Smyslov Interview by Vladimir Anzikeev for "Shakhmatnaya Nedelia" (Chess Week). Translated by Zoya Vlassova. First appeared in "Chess Today" No. 1045.

10 Mikhail Botvinnik, "Botvinnik's Complete Games (1942-1956) and Selected Writings (Part 2)" Kean Neat ed., transl. Olomouc, 2012. -Originally published in Mikhail Botvinnik, "Match Botvinnik-Smyslov" (Fizkultura i sport, Moscow 1955)

11 Mikhail Botvinnik "Achieving the Aim" Bernard Cafferty, transl. Pergamon, 1981

12 Dmitry Plisetsky and Sergey Voronkov, "Russians vs. Fischer" Ken Neat transl. Everyman Chess, 2005

Tournament Sources

[-<18th Moscow Championship 1938> <[rusbase-9]>

-<Gorky National 1st Category Tournament 1938 (2d group)> <[rusbase-10]>


 page 1 of 112; games 1-25 of 2,794  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. K Gerasimov vs Smyslov 0-1221935Moscow Pioneer Home championsipD05 Queen's Pawn Game
2. G Dzagurov vs Smyslov  1-0321935Moscow Pioneer Home championshipC29 Vienna Gambit
3. S Belavenets vs Smyslov  ½-½341937Clock simul, 6bE32 Nimzo-Indian, Classical
4. Smyslov vs Averbakh 1-0241938junior ttE17 Queen's Indian
5. Smyslov vs Rekach 1-023193818th Ch Moscow (sf - 5)B10 Caro-Kann
6. N Zanozdra vs Smyslov 1-0251938Ch URS (juniors)B17 Caro-Kann, Steinitz Variation
7. Smyslov vs V Zak 1-0361938All Union First CategoryA43 Old Benoni
8. Smyslov vs N Rudnev  1-0431938All Union First CategoryC10 French
9. Smyslov vs Lilienthal 1-056193818th Ch MoscowC11 French
10. Smyslov vs A Chistiakov ½-½32193818th Ch MoscowC12 French, McCutcheon
11. Smyslov vs M Yudovich Sr.  1-049193818th Ch MoscowB20 Sicilian
12. A S Sergeev vs Smyslov  1-064193818th Ch MoscowA47 Queen's Indian
13. Smyslov vs S Kogan  ½-½37193818th Ch MoscowC42 Petrov Defense
14. V Baturinsky vs Smyslov 0-134193818th Ch MoscowC45 Scotch Game
15. Averbakh vs Smyslov 0-124193919th Ch MoscowA06 Reti Opening
16. Smyslov vs Panov  0-143193919th Ch MoscowC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
17. Smyslov vs I Kan  ½-½311939Leningrad / Moscow trainingC43 Petrov, Modern Attack
18. Smyslov vs A Konstantinopolsky 1-0571939Leningrad / Moscow trainingC77 Ruy Lopez
19. Alatortsev vs Smyslov 0-1401939Leningrad / Moscow trainingE47 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3
20. Smyslov vs V Makogonov ½-½491939Leningrad / Moscow trainingB10 Caro-Kann
21. S Belavenets vs Smyslov 0-1361939Leningrad / Moscow trainingD02 Queen's Pawn Game
22. Smyslov vs Ragozin 0-1351939Leningrad / Moscow trainingC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
23. Panov vs Smyslov ½-½421939Leningrad / Moscow trainingC77 Ruy Lopez
24. Smyslov vs V Goglidze 1-0801939Leningrad / Moscow trainingB83 Sicilian
25. Reshevsky vs Smyslov 1-0701939Leningrad / Moscow trainingD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
 page 1 of 112; games 1-25 of 2,794  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Smyslov wins | Smyslov loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 54 OF 54 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-31-17  Howard: It's been said that Smyslov had a very harmonious playing style. While some might call that description self-explanatory, I don't understand that.

Could someone help me here?

Aug-31-17  Retireborn: Smyslov's own autobiog was called In Search of Harmony, but I believe that's a reference to his passion for opera and singing.

From a chess point of view, "harmonious" probably means that he modelled himself on Capablanca rather than Lasker. Play over sufficient of his best games and it'll be self-explanatory to you too, I should think.

Aug-31-17  Nerwal: <Play over sufficient of his best games >

Yes, it's best to make your own opinion and impressions by looking at his games.

I like Smyslov vs H Steiner, 1946 for instance. His pieces seem always perfectly placed, the exchange deficit is not felt at all.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <His last name means OF THE MISS or DESCENDENT OF THE INCORRECT.> Nonsense! :-)

In slavic languages, <smysl> generally means <sense>. Consider this (Czech) usage of the root word:

Pet <smyslu> = Five <senses>

Toto nedava <smysl> = This does not make <sense>

<Smysl> toho vseho = The <meaning/purpose> of it all

Nov-17-17  thegoodanarchist: The photo of Smyslov here on his player page is much better than the photo of him shown on the return WC match page

Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Return Match (1957)

(where he looks like the Soviet version of Gomer Pyle)

Nov-17-17  thegoodanarchist: After reading this:

< offramp: His first name is the equivalent of the western BASIL. His last name means OF THE MISS or DESCENDENT OF THE INCORRECT.

His name in English would probably be BASIL FAULTY.>

and this:

< Gypsy: <His last name means OF THE MISS or DESCENDENT OF THE INCORRECT.> Nonsense! :-)

In slavic languages, <smysl> generally means <sense>. Consider this (Czech) usage of the root word:

Pet <smyslu> = Five <senses>

Toto nedava <smysl> = This does not make <sense>

<Smysl> toho vseho = The <meaning/purpose> of it all>

All is clear.

The translation of "Smyslov" is that <offramp> has lost his senses!

Mar-12-18  N.O.F. NAJDORF: Maybe you're right, GIA, since even Stalin's first name (not to mention Goebbels') was Joseph (same as Ossip).

According to

Smyslov's mother was Jewish, although the claim has been disputed.

Sep-16-18  dumbgai: The most underrated world champion IMO. Smyslov is often overlooked on all-time great lists but he actually has a pretty amazing track record.
Mar-24-19  Ironmanth: RIP, Grandmaster.
Jul-01-19  diagonal: Smyslov, Bronstein, Geller, ... the newest victims, having lost last week their <Memorable Games> cg. rubric, <Notable Tournaments> and <Game Collections>, too, as already Morphy, Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker, Tarrasch, Bogoljubov, Botvinnik, Flohr, Fine, Reshevsky, Gligoric, ... and Kramnik, Mamedyarov, Nakamura, Artemiev, or Wesley So, amongst many other prominent players.

@ <Chessgames>: Please restore it, many thanks!

Jul-13-19  Chesgambit: very strong chess player
Mar-24-20  Pyrandus: Great GM!
(The Hungarian GM, Portisch was a talentuat Singer, too!)
Mar-24-20  botvinnik64: Happy Birthday Vassily and Happy Birthday Yasser Seirawan (60!).
Premium Chessgames Member
  eternaloptimist: Happy Heavenly Birthday to the former World Chess Champ & 1 of my favorite chess players of all time...Vassily Smyslov!! I’m looking forward to meeting him in Heaven
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Just been reading Ray Keene's latest article in 'The Article.'

As always interesting and food for thought.

Ray says he could find no chess link from Nostradamus which prompted me to do a bit of surfing.

Found nothing to say otherwise but I did stumble upon this...

Apparently Smyslov believed in the prophecies of Nostradamus, (fair enough) and that chess originated in Atlantis.

Again, fair enough. The game was invented by The Gods. Think I'll say Atlantis next time I'm asked this question from a non-player. (usually I answer with it was a Mrs. Agnes Peabody, a housewife from Grimsby or some other such nonsense.)


Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Happy centenary!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: It's User: TheFocus' job to wish dead chessplayers Happy Birthday.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: While thereby jacking up his post count into the bargain.
Aug-20-21  Albertan: Smyslov Memorial Blitz:Nepomniachtchi 1st,Karpov beats Karjakin:

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Smyslov is a massively great chess player ...

He's never mentioned as a "great" player ...

But he is/was.

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: <<Diademas: It's User: TheFocus' job to wish dead chessplayers Happy Birthday.>>

Is he still around ??

I hope so .

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: In Todays' chess world Smyslov would be either a World Champion , or very very close.
Oct-14-21  Helios727: Boleslavsky was #2 in the 1950 candidates tournament, with Smyslov as #3. Yet, Smyslov got to play in the 1953 candidates tournament without playing in the interzonal first. Does that mean they originally allowed more than the top 2 candidates to be seeded into the next candidates tournament?
Oct-14-21  Retireborn: <Helios> According Wiki, Bronstein, Boleslavsky, Smyslov, Keres, Reshevsky, and Najdorf were all seeded into 1953 because they had played in the 1950 candidates.

Also Euwe, because he played in the 1948 tournament.

Sep-25-23  Caissanist: For those wondering, while <TheFocus> was still around when <harrylime> asked, he had largely stopped posting, probably due to health issues. He passed in February 2022: Nikolai Brunni .
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