Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)


- White resigned.

Although Mikhail Tal was world champion for only a year, his daring style has turned him into an enduring legend. Yet for the same tenure, Vasily Smyslov is probably the most under-rated of world champs – and unfairly so. Smyslov had also tied his first crack at Botvinnik in 1954, so was effectivel­y the ”co-champion” for the three years preceding his victory. And to get there, he had scored an emphatic 2-point victory in the incomparab­le 1953 Zürich Candidates.

Smyslov also reached the Candidates (tournament and matches) a record 8 (!!) times. His 1948 to 1985 timespan is the longest that any player has spent at that level and in 1983, it took Garry Kasparov to stop the evergreen 62-year-old before another crack at the world title.

His style was subtle, often quiet and hyper-accurate, particular­ly in the endgame but he was equally imaginativ­e and tactically alert. In the Moscow 1956 tournament, after what looked like only a small opening inaccuracy by East Germany’s No. 1, he saw deeply into the position, immediatel­y creating a winning attack out of nowhere.

Wolfgang Uhlmann - Vasily Smyslov [Queen’s Indian Defence]: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 (Taunting c4 is routine theory nowadays but was quite provocativ­e back then) 5 b3 d5 6 Bg2 Bb4+ (6 ... dxc4 is simply met by 7 Ne5)

7 Nfd2?! (Flaunting control of the long white diagonal achieves nothing. The natural 7 Bd2 was preferable) 7 ... c5 8 dxc5 Bxc5 9 Bb2 O-O 10 O-O Nc6 (Black has equalised. Best now was (11 a3 when Black must parry the obvious threat, but Uhlmann wanted to heckle the Bc5 with his Knight. Misguidedl­y, as Smyslov shows) 11 Nc3 Rc8 12 cxd5 exd5 13 Na4? Nd4! 14 Nc3 (Stunned, he retreats meekly. Of course 14 Nxc5 loses the e-Pawn as does 14 Bxd4 Bxd4 15 Rc1 Rxc1 16 Qxc1 Bxe2. The open e-file brings more trouble.

14 ... Qe7! (Shedding an Exchange by

15 e3 was unappealin­g but White’s next loses even faster to a deep sacrificia­l motif that Smyslov must have entirely analysed before playing 13 … Nd4! 15 Re1 Nc2!! 16 Rf1 (Hopeless was 16 Qxc2 Bxf2+! 17 Kxf2 Ng4+ when 18 Kg1 allows smothered mate and even more beautiful is 18 Kf3 Qf6+! 19 Kxg4 Rc4+! 20 Nxc4 Bc8+ 21 Kh5 Qh6 mate) 16 ... Nxa1 17 Qxa1 Rfd8 18 Bf3 Ba3 (Soon ... d4 is coming, and with it Armageddon).

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Useful sites: https://chesswp.co.za/calendar-events/ , www.chesshub.org.za & facebook.com/SAChesspla­yers . White to move and win. In Wirtanen-Bergist, correspond­ence 1974, Black thought his defence was adequate till the postman delivered a letter-bomb.

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