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Vasily Smyslov: biography, career, achievements of a chess player
Vasily Smyslov: biography, career, achievements of a chess player

The famous chess player Vasily Vasilyevich Smyslov was the seventh world champion and a major chess theorist. In the match for the crown, he defeated Botvinnik himself, and then confronted Kasparov on the way to the title. With all this, at the peak of his fame, the chess player almost became an opera singer, almost winning the selection of vocalists for the Bolshoi Theater.


Vasily Smyslov was born in Moscow on 03/24/1921. Passion for chess was passed on to him from his father, who created in the family a real atmosphere of this ancient game. Smyslov Sr.'s library had more than a hundred magazines and books on chess. And he himself had the first category and once even defeated the outstanding Alexander Alekhine. Little Vasya's uncle often came to visit the Smyslovs. He became the boy's first sparring partner, and a little later gave him the book "My Best Games" written by Alekhine, on which there was a symbolic inscription "To the Future Champion".

Nevertheless, the biography of Vasily Vasilyevich Smyslov could have turned out differently, because in childhood he was also seriously engaged in boxingand had good achievements in this sport. However, in the end, chess pushed the passion for martial arts to the background.

Vasily mastered the basics of the ancient game in the Moscow House of Pioneers. His mentor was Fedor Fogilevich. Soon the young man began to stand out from his peers with his results, and sometimes he defeated more experienced masters in simultaneous games.

Meaning in youth

Championship fight

The first significant successes came to the chess player Vasily Smyslov at the age of seventeen, when he won the youth national championship and the championship of Moscow. For these merits, the young man was awarded the title of Master of Sports.

In 1940, nineteen-year-old Vasily Smyslov became third in the championship of the Soviet Union. He let only the luminaries of chess Mikhail Botvinnik and Paul Keres go ahead. In 1941, a tournament match was held, in which the best six players of the championship participated, and Smyslov again took third place.

In 1948, at the post-war tournament, the chess player made his first attempt to become a real competitor to Botvinnik, but still could not beat him and remained second. In 1950, Vasily Smyslov took third place and did not qualify for the final. In the same year he received the title of International Grandmaster. In 1953, the chess player won the Candidates competition and won the right to play with Botvinnik, but lost again in the head-to-head match in 1954.

Smyslov and Botvinnik

A long-awaited victory

For many years, Vasily Smyslov participated in the USSR national team inWorld Chess Olympiad, where he won nine times. In addition, he won the European championship five times.

In 1957, the chess player again met with his eternal rival. The new match was held in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. This time Smyslov was stronger and became the seventh world champion. Botvinnik admitted defeat and noted that Vasily Vasilyevich received this title by right.

A whole crowd of chess lovers gathered at the exit from the playing hall that day. Vasily Smyslov was surrounded by jubilant Muscovites and did not let go for a long time, because of which traffic on the Garden Ring even had to be temporarily blocked. For the victory, the chess player was awarded the Order of Lenin.

Former Champion

Unfortunately, Vasily Smyslov could not keep the crown in his hands for a long time: in 1958 he was defeated in a rematch. The chess player explained his loss by a long rest on his laurels and he alth problems: during the second leg, Vasily Vasilyevich was struck down by pneumonia.

In the future, Smyslov made new attempts to get the coveted crown, but he failed to reach the final. However, towards the end of his career, the chess player overcame interzonal barriers and entered the Candidates Tournament, where he sent home the younger Zoltan Ribli from Hungary and Robert Huebner from Germany. Thus, at the age of 63, Vasily Vasilyevich became the finalist of the Candidates Tournament, where he fought Garry Kasparov himself, but lost.

Smyslov and Kasparov

In total, during his long career, Smyslov participated in seventy international tournaments, of which the most notablehe won victories in Havana in 1964 and 1965, in Hastings in 1968, in Reykjavik in 1974, in Berlin in 1979. In total, he won in twenty international and domestic competitions. His last tournaments were held in 2000 and 2001. seniors against women in Amsterdam.


Chess maestro Mikhail Botvinnik noted in his eternal rival Smyslov the versatility of talent and extraordinary insight. Vasily Vasilyevich could equally successfully attack expressively and go on the defensive, actively maneuver and give out a subtle opening. Botvinnik acknowledged that it was practically impossible to find weak points in Smyslov's game. But the seventh champion of the planet felt most confident in the endings - the endgame was his native element. As Vasily Vasilyevich said, first of all, a chess player should improve not in the middlegame and not in the opening, but in the endgame.

Smyslov made a significant contribution to the development of the theory of the Slav Defense, the Spanish game and the Queen's Gambit. The chess player even created his own development of the system in the Grunfeld Defense. The grandmasters who analyzed the games played by Vasily Vasilyevich always noted the logic and simplicity of each move made. Smyslov himself called the combination of harmony and art the most valuable in chess.

Vasily Vasilyevich Smyslov

The Afterlife

After the end of his career as a chess player, the biography of Vasily Smyslov sparkled with new colors. He took up theoretical work and began to write books. Your vast experienceVasily Vasilyevich summarized the author's works, the most famous of which were "In Search of Harmony", "A Beginner's Guide to Chess Players", "The Theory of Rook Endgames". The last of these works has been repeatedly reprinted and re-released in large numbers.

In 2008, Vasily Smyslov's book "The Science of Winning" was published, which later became the favorite publication of many players. In it, the chess player told how to think over the strategy of the game correctly and how to create non-standard situations for the opponent, in which he can lose a win.

Passion for music

Not everyone knows that Vasily Vasilyevich is not only a chess player, but also an opera singer. In early childhood, his father taught him to play the piano, and they played music in four hands. Then the son began to accompany his father and along the way learned many romances. The chess player saw himself as an opera soloist all his life and dreamed of a big stage. Back in 1947, he began to seriously study vocals with the famous professor K. Zlobin. In 1950, he even took part in a competition for vocal trainees, which was held at the Bolshoi Theater, and managed to overcome the first round. Members of the selection committee spoke enthusiastically about the excellent baritone Vasily Vasilyevich. However, due to chess competitions, Smyslov was unable to participate in the further selection and lost his place to other applicants.

Nevertheless, the grandmaster did not stop singing: during foreign tournaments he often demonstrated his musical repertoire to the local audience. Once, when Smyslov performed in Tilburg, Holland, Philips even recorded a recordold Russian romances performed by him. And in 1996, Vasily Vasilyevich's old dream came true: at a solo concert at the Moscow Conservatory, he sang his entire repertoire, and ended his performance with the song "There Lived Twelve Thieves", which he performed together with the choir.

Vasily Smyslov

Private life

The chess player was monogamous and lived all his life with one woman. His wife's name was Nina Andreevna, she was Smyslov's faithful companion and devoted herself entirely to her husband. Vasily and Nina met in 1948 when they stood in line at the reception of a sports department. At that time, by order of Stalin, officials worked around the clock, so it happened at night. Smyslov at that time was already a fairly well-known chess player, and the girl gladly accepted the offer to take her home, but the acquaintance did not go beyond this.

A week later, the young people met by chance at the post office and have not parted since. A year later, the lovers played a modest wedding.

Family tragedy

The Smyslovs lived together for more than sixty years, but they never had children together. Nina Andreevna had a son, Vladimir, from her first marriage. Looking at Vasily Vasilyevich, over time, he also became interested in chess and began to play at various tournaments. However, in the mid-1950s a tragedy happened. Vladimir failed at the World Youth Championship, because of this, the young chess player had a nervous breakdown, and he committed suicide.

Smyslov with his wife

Spouses survived the loss,supporting each other. Nina Andreevna left work and devoted all her time to caring for her husband, went to tournaments with him. As she herself once said: “I worked as the wife of a genius.”

Recent years

Being retired, the Smyslovs moved from the capital to the village of Nov, near Moscow. Information appeared in the press that they spent the rest of their lives in poverty. However, people from their inner circle claim that this is not so. For the championship, the chess federation paid Vasily Vasilyevich a thousand dollars a month. True, later the payment was canceled, but the grandmaster received income from the reprinting of his books on chess theory in the Russian Federation and other countries.

Smyslov's grave

24.03.2010 Smyslov is 89 years old. He celebrated his birthday at the Botkin hospital - he had a bad heart. The next day, Vasily Vasilyevich's condition deteriorated sharply, he stopped eating and refused medication. On March 26, the great chess player passed away. According to doctors, death was due to cardiovascular failure.

Smyslov's wife was not immediately told that her husband had died, because they feared for her he alth: ninety-year-old Nina Andreevna was weak and could barely walk. She was not present at the funeral of Vasily Vasilyevich, which took place at the Novodevichy cemetery. The wife survived Smyslov by only two months, after her death she was buried next to her husband.

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