Thursday, April 12, 2007

Chess -- Vasily Smyslov and positional preferences

Most chess players have a favorite among the grandmasters (dead or living). I used to (years ago) like Fischer, but that was more his achievement than his actual games (he did a lot on his own, whereas Kasparov and many others had access to good chess teachers, even went to chess school).

I've never really had a favorite based on playing style. But I've recently been going through some of the games of Vasily Smyslov, and I like them. So if someone held a gun to my head and forced me to pick a favorite, it would be Smyslov. But I've only seen a small sample, and to be honest I base that opinion also on the fact that the great grandmasters describe his play as harmonious. I like harmonious play (assuming they mean what I mean) and I dislike chaotic positions (though not necessarily sharp ones -- a position can be both sharp and harmonious, as for example in some variations of Kings Indian with mutual attacks on each side of the board. Very sharp but not chaotic.)

Also, as an amateur musician I like the fact that Smyslov is a singer (opera). Listen to a short clip here.



Grandpatzer said...

Smyslov-Rudakovsky, Moscow 1945 was the most influential game I've ever played through. See Best Lessons of a Chess Coach by Weeramantry and Eusebi.

XY said...

You mean this game? It's a nice clean orderly game, with a positional buildup and some quiet tactics.

This type of game seems to be fairly typical of Smyslov, which is why I like his games. All moves are so natural yet effective.

Grandpatzer said...

That's the game. This was one of two books that got me interested in chess as an adult. The commentary really opened my eyes to the richness of chess.

So here, influential doesn't mean profound or's personal impact.

XY said...

It's a fine game.

I have the same line-up as Smyslov (after his 10:th move) in a game I'm going to post. My opponent didn't play e5 though, so it takes on a different character.

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