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Vasily Smyslov

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Born: March 24, 1921, in Moscow, Soviet Union (now Russia)

Playing Style and Legacy:

Smyslov may have had the least distinctive style of the World Chess Champions. He is mainly known as a positional player, strong in the endgame and possessing excellent technique, but was also capable of finding deep combinations at times, adapting to the situation as need be.

Smyslov did not found a school or style of chess, but he was a rather prolific contributor to opening theory.

World Championship Matches and Tournaments:

1948: Finished 2nd in World Championship Match-Tournament (11/20); Mikhail Botvinnik becomes World Champion

1954: Drew Botvinnik 12-12 (+7 -7 =10); Botvinnik retains World Championship

1957: Defeated Botvinnik 12.5-9.5 (+6 -3 =13) to become World Chess Champion

1958: Lost to Botvinnik 12.5-10.5 (+5 -7 =11); Botvinnik regains World Championship

Notable Achievements:

  • Holds record for most Chess Olympiad medals (17)
  • Won two Soviet Chess Championships
  • Played in eight candidates events, including reaching Candidates Final against Garry Kasparov in 1984 at age 63

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