Understanding before Moving 163: Chess history in a nutshell (44)

by ChessBase
2/4/2024 – Herman Grooten is an International Master, a renowned trainer and the author of several highly acclaimed books on chess training and strategy. In the 163rd episode of his ChessBase show "Understanding before moving" Herman continues his series "Chess history in a nutshell" and continues to take a look at the legacy of Vassily Smyslov, the seventh World Champion in the history of chess. | Photo: Pascal Simon

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Vassily Smyslov (2)

As we noted in the previous issue, Vassily Smyslov was a world champion whose games looked "very smooth" to the neutral observer. Indeed, chess seemed easy to him, and if I am to believe the Slovenian chess trainer Adrian Mikhalchishin, Smyslov himself seems to have commented on this.When Mikhalchishin was in the Netherlands training the top Dutch junior players, Smyslov's statement "Chess is a simple game!" came up regularly.

Of course, chess is not a simple game, but the former World Champion wanted to emphasise that you have to keep it clear and therefore simple. We can certainly see that in his games, but that does not mean that Smyslov could not handle complicated positions. On the contrary, he sometimes opted for a furious attack. And when the opportunity arose, he could also combine beautifully.

For this issue, I have selected two of his games in which Smyslov showed that he could  calculate excellently and that he did not lack the necessary creativity to find hidden combinations.

In the diagram position, Black (after an exchange of light-squared bishops) has just retaken on c8 with the a-rook. However, he should have played ...Qc7xc8 because the seemingly logical ...Raxc8 can be refuted. Do you see what Smyslov saw?

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