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One point neglected in this article is that Smyslov is famous for having losed a game to Etienne Bacrot in 1993. Can someone add more on this?

It wasn`t a single game, it was a match. Smyslov was far, far past his prime in 1996 (not 1993). A chessplayer`s prime, with few exceptions, ends around 40 at the latest. Most top players say that they peak in their mid-30s and begin a mild decline even before reaching 40. This hardly merits such mention, though perhaps it would merit it on Bacrot`s entry. It would be like mentioning that John McEnroe at 60 lost a tennis match with a prime-aged Roger Federer. Why would it be listed among McEnroe`s achievements? Smyslov didn`t even manage to win a single game in the 8-game match, but that is hardly surprising. Bacrot was an ascending star full of youth, vitality, hunger, energy, and calculation powers. Smyslov was not only aged, but also very out of practice, and did not train and maintain his opening repertoire in a way that is required to win matches.


Why is there no photo for this page? A world champion deserves a photo I should think. I 08:06, 18 October 2006 (UTC)[reply]


I'm no fan of these religion-based categories. But in any case, I'd never heard before that Smyslov is Jewish, while this interview with Yuri Averbakh [1] (page 9) suggests he isn't. I propose deleting the category unless there's evidence that he is Jewish. Rocksong 06:35, 26 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Answering my own question, this site http://www.jinfo.org/Chess_Champions.html says his mother was Jewish. Yet there are other lists on the internet which don't mention him. I guess it can stay, until the day I get my way and all categories "People of occupation X and religion Y" are deleted. Rocksong 07:02, 26 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Hmm, he's not listed at Russian Jewish Encyclopedia. I'll email the webmaster of jinfo.org, I suspect his source is dubious. Rocksong 04:06, 26 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

He is listed as Jewish in a number of sources (no source claims to be exhaustive, so absence from a source causes me no loss of sleep). See, for example, ,,, --Epeefleche 22:04, 26 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I'm still skeptical, because on the Internet there are sources which copy each other. And I'm dubious of Silman because he also names Spassky, but Spassky appears to have specifically denied having a Jewish mother (see Talk:Boris Spassky). Not Only Chess, by the Jewish chessplayer Gerald Abrahams (George Allen + Unwin, 1974, p.203) writes that Smyslov is "alleged to have had a Jewish grandmother". You'd think if Smyslov really was Jewish then Abrahams would've written more than that. Rocksong 12:48, 28 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
I'll also add that the absence from the Russian Jewish Encyclopedia is pretty significant - as a former World Chess Champion, he'd be very famous in Russia, so it's not like the Russian Jewish Encyclopedia could've forgotten about him. On the other hand, I got an email from the editor of jinfo.org, claiming that his source on Smyslov was good. (He also pointed out that he is not indiscriminate as evidenced by the fact that he does not include Spassky). So I still think it's a hard one to decide on. Peter Ballard 01:55, 17 May 2007 (UTC)[reply]
We should be careful with claims like that. An "alleged Jewish grandmother" can easily explode into some people claiming Smyslov is Jewish. It happens all the time, especially with the Jewish people (because of matrilineal descent).
Understood. Personally, I would be in favor of listing him as Jewish, but reflecting any reliable contrary sources information in the bio.--Epeefleche 20:57, 17 May 2007 (UTC)[reply]
To add to the discussion, during chess games of Botvinnik vs Smyslov, anti-semitic audience members chanted "Vasily, kick that Jew ass." Had Smyslov actually had a Jewish grandmother, to the Russians, he's a Jew. So that chant would make absolutely no sense.

Needs better photo[edit]

The article needs a better photo of Smyslov. Bubba73 (talk), 03:00, 11 January 2008 (UTC)[reply]

I think we may have too many now actually. Do we really need five? The 1958 image has a fair use rationale which claims the subject is deceased (not the case, obviously) and placed in the World Champion section it's created a large amount of empty white space which looks a bit odd to me.Pawnkingthree (talk) 14:32, 21 February 2008 (UTC)[reply]
I've now expanded that section a bit to remove the white space.Pawnkingthree (talk) 15:00, 21 February 2008 (UTC)[reply]
That message was a few weeks ago. Now the photos are OK. Bubba73 (talk), 15:21, 21 February 2008 (UTC)[reply]
I'm aware of that, but my point was that Wikipedia's policy is that fair use images should be kept to an absolute minimum and that as there are already free images in the article, I'm not sure we can justify having two fair use ones. Pawnkingthree (talk) 15:53, 21 February 2008 (UTC)[reply]
At that time, there were only the two recent photos and the early one that has the strange pattern running through it. The new ones don't show him well enough, and the other one has those distracting artifacts. I added the other two - a better shot of his face, and also around the time he was in his prime playing years. Bubba73 (talk), 17:01, 21 February 2008 (UTC)[reply]


Smyslov was never rated 2800 by the FIDE. Perhaps it is some chessmetrics type rating that tries to rank all players, past and present, "fairly."

As is well known, Bobby Fischer held the all-time FIDE high rating of 2785 until Garri Kasparov broke it in the 1990s. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:41, 4 September 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Yes that 2800 can't be his FIDE rating. Elo gives his best 5-year average as 2690, so his peak must have been 2700-something. Bubba73 (talk), 05:06, 4 September 2009 (UTC)[reply]
And that is what Elo calculated - the official FIDE ratings didn't start until 1970. Bubba73 (talk), 05:21, 4 September 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Family and personal life[edit]

His personal life is not mentioned; the only family member that is mentioned is his father. Anyone have any info? Jim Michael (talk) 01:02, 28 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]


I think the article needs at least one photo of Smyslov around the time he was World Champion. The ones on his 80th birthday were more than 40 years later. Bubba73 (You talkin' to me?), 14:52, 28 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

As there are free images available, we cannot use any fair-use images for identification purposes per WP:NFCC. The only solution is to find a photo that has a free licence or is out of copyright.--Pawnkingthree (talk) 13:11, 29 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
So Wikipedia is worse off because of the free images. If there weren't free images available, we could use more appropriate images by "fair use". Bubba73 (You talkin' to me?), 15:02, 29 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
How essential to the understanding of the topic is it that we see a 40 year old picture of him instead of a recent one? The purpose of an image in a biography, surely, is to show what he looked like. An 80 year Smyslov is still Smyslov. And he was still playing chess then!--Pawnkingthree (talk) 15:37, 29 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I feel that it would be much more important to have a picture of him in his prime years, especially around the time he was World Champion. Bubba73 (You talkin' to me?), 15:44, 29 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I see your point, but neither of the 1958 images previously in the article were of good quality in my opinion. Plus the 2002 image was incongruously in the "War years" section. I actually prefer how things look now.--Pawnkingthree (talk) 16:38, 29 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
OK, that's the way it is. Bubba73 (You talkin' to me?), 16:45, 29 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Don't forget, we had a similar problem with Bobby Fischer, and then File:Bobby Fischer 1960 in Leipzig.jpg turned up. So you never know.--Pawnkingthree (talk) 19:42, 29 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, I remember that. Stuck with a very bad image because it was free, so we couldn't use "fair use". Bubba73 (You talkin' to me?), 19:48, 29 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]


When did he die? 26 or 27? Time of death?--Chvsanchez (talk) 23:26, 27 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Apparently, Google translation of a Russian source incorrectly stated that he died on Friday night. In fact, he died in the early hours of Saturday morning, the 27th. That's the cause of the confusion.--Pawnkingthree (talk) 15:41, 29 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Having said that, The Guardian is saying the 26th, so maybe it's not as clearcut as I thought. Most sources, however, eg The New York Times, Reuters, The Moscow Times, are following the initial reports by Russian television station NTV and going with Saturday. Ultimately, we're only talking about a difference of a few hours; it's clear Friday night into Saturday morning was when he died.--Pawnkingthree (talk) 16:21, 29 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
He was (by far) the last player from the 1948 World Championship match-tournament to die. Now Andor Lilienthal is the last living link to the past. Krakatoa (talk) 18:19, 29 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Indeed. The oldest living ex-world champion is now Spassky, from a different generation entirely.--Pawnkingthree (talk) 19:47, 29 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Well, Averbakh is still alive (and soon to be 100!), and he's about the same generation as Smyslov. Certainly not an easy generation to be in. Double sharp (talk) 08:48, 30 September 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Sadly, also RIP to Averbakh (though he did make it to 100). Double sharp (talk) 16:53, 22 April 2023 (UTC)[reply]

Mikhail Chigorin[edit]

Mikhail Chigorin died before Smyslov was born, so the part about him being a tutor must be wrong. Bubba73 (You talkin' to me?), 15:21, 30 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I clarified that with this edit. It was just poor wording. It was not: "He (Smyslov) had also studied chess for a time under the tutelage of Mikhail Tchigorin and he (Chigorin) became the boy's first teacher" but instead it was "He (Smyslov's father) had also studied chess for a time under the tutelage of Mikhail Tchigorin and he (Smyslov's father) became the boy's first teacher". Carcharoth (talk) 23:52, 30 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

External links modified[edit]

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olympiad medals[edit]

Does that record count team medals or individual medals or both?? (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 16:34, 12 February 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Bibliography on Smyslov[edit]

There is now a book out on Smyslov (rather than by him), titled "The Life and Games of Vasily Smyslov: Volume I - The Early Years: 1921-1948", with, supposedly, volume II on the way. Perhaps of value to add to the bibliography.


He may have had a Jewish ancestry according to some accounts

  • The Jewish Lists: Physicists and Generals, Actors and Writers, and Hundreds of Other Lists of Accomplished Jews

Martin Harry Greenberg Schocken Books, 1979

  • Jewish Chess Masters on Stamps

Front Cover Felix Berkovich, N. J. Divinsky McFarland & Company, 2000

(This website claim he was listed as Jewish by USSR anti-Semitic authorities.)

I am not sure if this information should be added in the article since it is controversial :

"There is some controversy surrounding his mother's Jewish ancestry, while his father Vasily Osipovich Smyslov was Russian."

I feel like it may be added in a note since USSR was anti-Semitic. --Vanlister (talk) 10:12, 14 August 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Final years[edit]

He did not beat Polgar in his final tournament, it was in 2000. In 2001 he beat Galliamova. His rating was never around 2400. "The highlight of the match" was not written by a chess player, I guess. Someone else may try to correct this mess. (talk) 05:28, 8 August 2022 (UTC)[reply]