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A tribute to Vassily Smyslov

Position No. 6102: Black to play and win. From the game Lev Polugaevsky-Vassily Smyslov, Moscow 1960.

Solution to Position No. 6101: Black wins with 1 . . . Rxe6! 2 dxe6 Bxf3+! 3 Kxf3 Qd3+ 4 Kg2 (useless are 4 Be3 Rf8+ and 4 Kf2 Rf8+ 5 Ke1 Qe4+) Qe4+ 5 Kg1 Rd8 6 Qg2 (or 6 Qb3 Qe1+ 7 Kg2 Qe2+ 8 Kg1 Rf8, forcing checkmate) Rd1+ 7 Kf2 Qc2+ 8 Kf3 Rd3+ 9 Be3 Rxe3+ 10 Kxe3 Qxg2.

Vassily Smyslov, the seventh world champion, died of heart failure in Moscow on March 27, three days after his 89th birthday. He was one of the greatest stars when the Soviet Union dominated chess.

Smyslov enjoyed a long career, stretching from his days as a teenage master to occasional appearances in his late 70s. But he will be remembered most for his successes in the 1950s. He won two Candidates tournaments, in 1953 (probably his greatest tournament performance) and 1956, to earn the right to challenge world champion Mikhail Botvinnik. Their 1954 match ended in a 12-12 tie. Smyslov defeated Botvinnik, 12 1/2 -9 1/2 , to become champion in 1957 but lost the rematch, 10 1/2 -12 1/2 , in 1958.

Botvinnik, notoriously stingy with praise, described his rival as “almost unbeatable in the mid- 1950s.”

Smyslov surprised everyone by reaching the final round of Candidate matches in 1983 at age 62. He lost only to eventual world champion Garry Kasparov. Eight years later, he won the first World Senior Championship, for players older than 60.

Amiable and universally admired, Smyslov served as a model for generations of professional players. He is irreplaceable.

Smyslov excelled in positions with active pieces and in endgames requiring exact calculation.

Local news

A variety of scholastic organizers combined to run the Southern California Superstate Championship two weeks ago in Irvine. Their cooperation produced the largest local tournament in years, with 356 participants in the rated sections and another 250 in nonrated sections.

Christian Tanaka and seventh-grader Michael W. Brown scored 5-1 to lead the High School section. Tanaka earns the title of state high school champion and an invitation to the Denker Tournament of High School Champions in August.

State championship titles also went to Brendyn Estolas (on tiebreak over Boris Kitapszyan) in Junior High, Andy Caen (on tiebreak over Daniel Lin) in Elementary, and Hovanes Salvaryan (on tiebreak over Julian Chang, Aaron Householder and Bryan Xiao) in Primary. Orion Burl, Daniel Sun, Gio Geromo and Justin Hsu led other sections.

There was a good turnout of 37 players for the Westwood Spring Open last Sunday at the Los Angeles Chess Club. Philip Xiao Wang won the tournament of 40-minute games with a score of 5-0. Wang, a master in high school, has just returned to chess after a six-year absence. Gregg Small and IM Tim Taylor tied for second at 3 1/2 -1 1/2 .

Karl Tolentino led the Reserve (under 1800) section with 4 1/2 - 1/2 , a half-point ahead of Gerry Mendoza and David Steinhart. John Hillery directed.

Today’s games

Andrzej Pytlakowski (Poland)- GM Vassily Smyslov (U.S.S.R), 10th Olympiad, Helsinki 1952: 1 d4 d5 2 c4 dxc4 The Queen’s Gambit Accepted. 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 Qa4+ The main line begins 4 e3. c6 5 Qxc4 Bg4 6 Ne5 Tempting, but 6 Nc3 Nbd7 7 e4 improves. Be6 7 Qd3 Nbd7 8 Nxd7 Bxd7 9 Nc3 Qb6 10 Bd2 Not 10 e4?!, as 10 . . . e5! 11 dxe5 Ng4 favors Black. e5?! A magnificent conception, slightly flawed. Black should settle for 10 . . . 0-0-0 11 e3 e5 12 dxe5 Ng4. 11 dxe5 Ng4 12 Qg3! 0-0-0 13 h3 Be6! Black foresaw 14 hxg4?? Rxd2! and 14 0-0-0?? Nxf2 15 Be3 Rxd1+ 16 Nxd1 Nxh1, winning. 14 Rd1?? The odd 14 Bc1! forces 14 . . . Nh6 15 e4 f5 16 exf6 gxf6, when Black’s compensation is barely adequate. Qxb2 15 hxg4 Bb4 Threatening 16 . . . Rxd2. White cannot avoid disaster on the d-file. 16 Rh3 If 16 Ne4, Black wins with 16 . . . Rxd2! 17 Nxd2 Rd8. Rd4 17 Qe3 Rhd8 18 f4 Black gains a Bishop by 18 Rb1 Rxd2! 19 f4 Bxc3! 20 Rxb2 R2d3+ 21 Kf2 Rxe3. Bxg4 More convincing than 18 . . . Rxd2 19 Rxd2 Qc1+ 20 Kf2 Rxd2 21 f5. 19 Rg3 Bf5 20 Rf3 Ba5 21 g4 Bc2 22 e6 fxe6 23 Qxe6+ Kb8 24 Rd3 Bxd3 25 exd3 Bxc3 26 Qe5+ Ka8, White Resigns.

GM Vassily Smyslov (U.S.S.R.)-GM Alexander Kotov (U.S.S.R.), Moscow 1943: 1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 g3 The Closed Sicilian. g6 4 Bg2 Bg7 5 d3 d6 6 Nf3 Today 6 f4 is more common. e6 7 Bg5 Nge7 8 Qd2 h6 9 Be3 e5 A modern defensive formation, but the addition of . . . h7-h6 is of debatable value. 10 0-0 Be6 11 Ne1 Qd7 12 a3 Bh3 13 f4 Nd4 14 Rb1 exf4 15 Bxf4 Black could meet 15 gxf4 by 15 . . . 0-0-0 or by 15 . . . Bxg2 16 Qxg2 f5 17 Nd5 0-0-0. Bxg2 16 Qxg2 0-0 This should be safe. Chances remain even. 17 g4 Rad8 18 Kh1 Ne6 19 Bd2 d5 20 Nf3 d4 Smyslov recommended 20 . . . dxe4 21 Nxe4 Nd5. 21 Ne2 Nc6? Too slow. Black must counterattack with 21 . . . c4! 22 Nf4 (worse is 22 dxc4?! d3) Rc8. 22 Qh3 Kh7 23 Ng3 f6 24 Nf5! Smyslov called this “a typical piece sacrifice.” gxf5 25 gxf5 Nc7 26 Rg1 Ne8 Toughest. After 26 . . . Rf7, Black could survive 27 Rg6? Rh8 28 Rbg1 Kg8, but 27 Nh4! Ne5 28 Ng6 Nxg6 29 fxg6+ Kh8 30 Qh4 continues White’s attack. 27 Rg6 It’s uncertain if 27 Bxh6!? Bxh6 28 Rg6 Qg7 29 Rxg7+ Nxg7 30 Rg1 Ne7 31 Nh4 is stronger. Rf7? Clearly losing. Only 27 . . . Rh8 28 Rbg1 Kg8 29 Bxh6 Rh7 hangs on. 28 Rbg1 Kg8 29 Rxh6 Kf8 30 Rh7 Ke7 31 Qh5 Kd6 If Black vacates d8 for the King by 31 . . . Rc8, White strikes with 32 Ng5! fxg5 33 Bxg5+ Kd6 34 Bf4+ Ke7 35 f6+! Nxf6 36 Rgxg7!, winning. 32 Bf4+ Ne5 33 Bxe5+ fxe5 34 f6! Nxf6 Or 34 . . . Rxf6 35 Rgxg7 Nxg7 36 Qxe5+ Kc6 37 Qxf6+. 35 Qxe5+ Kc6 36 Rhxg7! Kb5 37 Nxd4+ As 37 . . . Qxd4 loses routinely to 38 Qxd4 cxd4 39 Rxf7. Kb6 38 b4! Rc8 39 Rxf7 Quickest is 39 bxc5+ Ka6 40 c6! bxc6 41 Ne6, threatening 42 Nc5+. Qxf7 40 Qd6+ Rc6 41 Nxc6 Nxe4! Hoping for 42 . . . Qf3+. 42 bxc5+!, Black Resigns. After 42 . . . Ka6 43 Nb8+ Ka4 44 Qd4+ or 44 . . . Ka5 44 Qd8+ b6 45 Nc6+ Kb5 46 Nd4+, White can finally capture Black’s Knight.

GM Arthur Bisguier (U.S.A.)-GM Vassily Smyslov (U.S.S.R.), USA vs. USSR Match, Moscow 1955: 1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 e3 g6 The Schlechter variation, Smyslov’s longtime favorite. 5 Nc3 Bg7 6 Bd3 0-0 7 0-0 Bg4 8 h3 Bxf3 9 Qxf3 e6 10 Rd1 Nbd7 11 e4 Not dangerous to Black. Neither is 11 cxd5 exd5. But 11 b3 Re8 12 Bb2 may obtain an edge. e5! 12 dxe5?! Smyslov defeated Simagin and Polugaevsky after 12 exd5?! exd4. White should aim for a draw by 12 Be3 c5! 13 Nxd5! Nxd5 14 cxd5 exd4 15 Bf4 Ne5 16 Bxe5. Nxe5 13 Qe2 d4 Black has seized the initiative. 14 Bc2 Nfd7 15 Na4 Necessary, as 15 Nb1? Nc5 16 f4 loses to 16 . . . d3 17 Qf2 Nxe4 18 Qe3 Nxc4 19 Qxe4 Nxb2. Qa5 16 Bd2 d3! 17 Bxa5? The desperado 17 Qxd3?? is foiled, appropriately, by the desperado 17 . . . Qxa4. Correct, though, is 17 Qe3 Qa6 18 Bb3. If 18 . . . b5 19 cxb5 cxb5 20 Nc3 Nb6, White should salvage a draw by the exchange sac 21 f4 Nec4 22 Qxd3 Nxb2 23 Qxb5. dxe2 18 Re1 Nxc4 Now Black retains an extra pawn. 19 Bc3 After 19 Bb4 Rfd8 20 Rxe2, one amusing possibility is 20 . . . b5 21 Bb3 a5 22 Bc3? bxa4 23 Bxc4 Bxc3 24 bxc3 Ne5, trapping the Bishop. b5 20 Bb3 Bxc3 21 Nxc3 Or 21 bxc3 Nd2 22 Nb2 Nxe4. Nxb2 22 Rxe2 Nd3 23 Rd1 N7c5 24 Red2 Nb4 Black solves the technical task by targeting a2. He has little to fear on the d-file. 25 f4 a5 26 e5 a4 27 Bc2 a3 28 Be4 Against 28 Bb1, Smyslov planned 28 . . . Na4 29 Ne4 Nd5 30 Rc1 b4 31 Rxc6 Nac3, conquering a2. Na4 29 Rc1 Rfd8 30 Rxd8+ Rxd8 31 Nxa4 bxa4 32 Rc3 White gets nowhere with 32 Rc4 c5 33 Rxc5 Rd4 34 Bf3 Nxa2, as the pawn at a3 will claim a Rook. Rd2 33 Bxc6 The extra Knight wins easily after 33 Rxa3 Rxa2 34 Rxa2 Nxa2 35 Bxc6 Nc3 36 Bxa4 Nxa4. Rxa2 34 Bxa4 Ra1+ 35 Kh2 a2 36 e6 fxe6, White Resigns.


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