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Vasily Smyslov: Endgame Virtuoso Paperback – June 1, 1997

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The endgame is a subtle phase of the game many ordinary players would like to improve. In taking the reader through over 150 instructive examples, taken mostly from his own games, Smyslov covers a very broad range of positions - and provides an excellent overall insight into the endgame as a whole. Unlike standard endgame manuals, which concetrate purely on the most basic and technical positions, this book has numerous examples with many pieces on the board - the type of endgame you are in fact most likely to reach. By learning from Smyslov's impeccable technique, readers will improve their own endgame abilities - and results! Grandmaster Vasily Smyslov is renowned for his artistic mastery of the endgame, and his 1957 World Championship victory over Botvinnik can be largely attributed to his unique gifts in this aspect of the game. The winner of innumerable first prizes in international tournaments, Smyslov became, at 61, the oldest player ever to qualify for the World Championship Candidates Matches. Now in his mid-seventies, he still participates constantly in international events - with remarkable success.

About the Author

Grandmaster Vasily Smyslov is renowned for his artistic mastery of the endgame, and his 1957 World Championship victory over Botvinnik can be largely attributed to his unique gifts in this aspect of the game. The winner of innumerable first prizes in international tournaments, Smyslov became, at 61, the oldest player ever to qualify for the World Championship Candidates Matches. Now in his mid-seventies he still participates constantly in international events, with remarkable success.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman Chess; 1st edition (June 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857441982
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857441987
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #844,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andre E. Harding on August 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
1900 USCF player.

This book was published in the 21st century when Fritz and Rybka, et al have become the ultimate chess authorities.

I've never had a use for all of the analysis in books like ON MY GREAT PREDECESSORS because all of that analysis doesn't help me to understand chess any better. I also read reviews of many works where reviewers criticize books for having flaws discovered by computer analysis. Unless the book is a monograph on cutting-edge opening theory, this is besides the point for me: I want to understand the play and how to think. I don't think less of Irving Chernev's books because some engine doesn't agree with all of his analysis. John Nunn's endgame works are computer-checked, but I can't really learn much from them.

Having said all of this, let me get to ENDGAME VIRTUOSO.

I now understand how Smyslov reached the Candidates Final at 63 years old: the 7th World Champion relied on his feel and understanding of positions to navigate his way through games and tournaments, and one gets the impression that he did not so much think in variations, as much as he used variations to prove his understanding of the events unfolding before him. The book has sections on Pawn Endings, Minor Piece Endgings, Rook Endings, Queen Endings, etc. and a section which contains dozens of complete annotated Smyslov games.

Each game or game fragment will have some explanatory notes which identify the most important features of the position in question. Smyslov tells us why some positional factors have more significance in the given situation than others, and he will give a (brief) variation or two to illustrate this if necessary. There is no extensive branching of subvariations or the like.
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This is a little book with many of Smyslov's endgames, the book has three parts, but the two that matter most are the first and the last one, the first being many fragments of games (endgames of course!) and the last a selection of complete, annotated games with emphasis on the endgame. The third part I personally believe is not so interesting for most practical, tournament players, is a selection of Smyslov's best compositions. The game fragments have very light annotations and in my opinion that is not enough to give the reader a good understanding of all the endgames considered there, Smyslov focuses his attention on variations not on strategic considerations (by the way, something quite unusual for him), however, the complete games have good notes that compensate the ones of the first part. Perhaps what happened is that for some reason he selected very "concrete endgames" for the first part, I mean endgames that can be best understood mainly using moves instead of verbal explanations. All in all the book is really good, perhaps not a masterpiece but there is good practical advise here and something I think is very valuable which is the chance to study how a game moves from the opening straight to the endgame and how a former World Champion and endgame genius gets the most of it.
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Format: Paperback
I can't believe I haven't seen this book on more chess 'lists' - Smyslov really stresses understanding - any player will make greater gains when armed with a strong endgame. My coach (a GM) first showed me this book in Russian - an outstanding tool for improving your game.
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Format: Paperback
Vassily Smyslov was the World Champion who won the title against the "Iron Man" Mikhail Botvinnik purely on the basis of his endgame abilities. Although a gifted tactician, Smyslov curbed his attacking zeal and realized a better strategy against the great Botvinnik would be to exchange Queens early, go for quiet positions and outplay Botvinnik in the endgame. Smyslov's playing style was characterized by simplicity, elegance, clarity and harmony. His games are an excellent teaching tool for players who want to improve their game. As Capablanca once said, "If you want to improve your game start with the endgame". I purchased this little book with great anticipation, and I was not disappointed. The book is by Smyslov himself, not ghost written as is usually the case with Russian chess books. The examples chosen to teach students are outstanding. Smyslov had a clear playing style, always seeking objective truth. This comes across clearly in this book and it is clear that he is very serious about helping students of chess to improve their endgame skills. It is not often you get lessons right from the mouth of a World Champion endgame artist. The price of this slim volume is low compared to the rich benefits any serious student of chess will get from it. Careful study of the positions in this book will raise your playing standard.
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No need to buy this booklet which contains numerous games annotated (by that I mean with SIMPLE explanation that only leave you baffled). Save the money for everything else from gasoline to porn tapes, all the games that were provided within can also be found on chessgames.com

This book ended up being my bug beater...
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