My favorite Chess Interview! Kramink's opinion on Smyslov

For the full article 'Kramnik Interview: From Steinitz to Kasparov' click HERE

Kramnik:- I did not have the opportunity to study chess classics when I was a child.
I was born in the Russian provincial town of Tuapse where chess literature
was difficult to obtain.
only books on modern players, such as ...
Karpov, Petrosian, etc. were available.
Of course, later I filled the gap in my education.
However, it is much easier for me to talk about those who I met over the board, i.e. Karpov, Kasparov.

Interviewer: - As you see it, should young chess players study the classics?

- In my view, if you want to reach the heights, you should study the entire history of chess.
I can't give any clear logical explanation for it, but I think it is absolutely essential to soak up the whole of chess history.

Smyslov plays the game how it should be played - Kramnik

- How would you describe Smyslov?

- How can I express it in the right way? ...

He is truth in chess!
Smyslov plays correctly, truthfully and has a natural style.
By the way, why do you think he lacks that aura of mystique like Tal or Capablanca?
Because Smyslov is not an actor in chess, his play is neither artistic nor fascinating.
But I am fond of his style.
I would recommend a study of Smyslov's games to children who...
want to know how to play chess
Because he plays the game how it should be played
His style is the closest to some sort of 'virtual truth' in chess.
He always tried to make the strongest move in each position.
He has surpassed many other of the World Champions in the number of strongest moves made.
As a professional, this skill impresses me.
I know that spectators are more interested in flaws ...
ups and downs.
But from the professional standpoint, Smyslov has been underestimated.

He mastered all elements of play.
Smyslov was a brilliant endgame specialist.
All in all his play resembled a smooth flow, like a song.
When you look at his games, you have that light feeling as if...
his hand is making the moves all by itself while...
 the man is making no effort at all
- just like he was drinking coffee or reading a newspaper!
This has the feel of Mozart's light touch!
No stress, no effort, everything is simple yet brilliant.
I like this feature of Smyslov and I am fond of his games.

- Smyslov and Botvinnik played almost a hundred games against each other.
Iincluding three World Championships.
Did they produce high quality games in terms of modern standards?

- They did, there was real quality about their games.
Of course, they made mistakes since the matches were very long but...
the average level of their games was very high.
Sometimes they blundered but I would not say this had a strong impact on the general assessment of the play.
At the same time the average strength of each move was very high.

- Did Smyslov play chess like his predecessors?

- No, he played differently, he had his own brand of chess.
He was a master of positional play and surpassed his predecessors in this area.
He was also good at opening preparation and tactics but no more than that.
Smyslov did not have incredible conceptual ideas but...
he was very accurate and carried out his ideas 'millimetre by millimetre'.
Probably, he was the first chess player to reach the highest level of accuracy.
To a certain extent, Smyslov was the pioneer of this style,
which was later brilliantly developed by Karpov,
i.e. the gradual mounting of positional pressure based on...
the most accurate calculation of short lines.

Go to the official Kramnik website to see this Interview

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