Vasily SmyslovVasily Vasiliyevich Smyslov (born March 24, 1921) is a chess player. He was World Champion from 1957 to 1958.
Smyslov was a fine baritone singer, only deciding on a career in chess after a failed audition for the Bolshoi in 1950. Later, he sometimes gave recitals during chess tournaments, often accompanied by fellow Grandmaster and pianist Mark Taimanov.
Smyslov played in the 1948 World Chess Championship tournament to determine who should succeed the late Alexander Alekhine as champion, finishing second behind Mikhail Botvinnik. In 1954 he played a match with Botvinnik for the title. It ended in a draw, meaning that Botvinnik retained his title. They played again in 1957, and this time Smyslov won by the score 12.5 - 9.5. The following year, Botvinnik exercised his right to a rematch, and he won the title back with a final scoreline of 12.5 - 10.5.
Smyslov didn't qualify for another World Championship final, but continued to play in World Championship qualifying events. In 1983 he won through to the Candidates Final (the match to determine who plays the champion, in this case Anatoly Karpov), losing 8.5 - 4.5 to future world champion Gary Kasparov. He had beaten Zoltan Ribli 6.5 - 4.5 in the semifinal, but drew his quarter-final match against Robert Huebner 7 - 7, with the advancing player only determined by the spin of a roulette wheel.
In 1991 Smyslov won the inaugural Senior World Chess Championship. He has played no competitive games since the 2001 Klompendans Veterens versus Ladies tournament in Amsterdam. His Elo rating following this event was 2494. Nowadays, his eyesight is very bad.
He is known for his precise handling of the endgame.