NAME: Vasily Smyslov
BIRTHDATE: March 24, 1921
CREDENTIALS: USSR Champion in 1949. World Champion from 1957 to 1958. In 1991 Smyslov won the inaugural Senior World Chess Championship.
Known for his positional style and forceful endgame strategies. He once said A chess game is a work of art between minds, which need to balance two sometimes disparate goals; to win and to produce beauty. He is the author of Endgame Virtuoso. As a baritone singer, he was also known for giving recitals during tournaments!
Learned chess at the age of six from his father, who himself was such a strong player that he had once defeated Alexander Alekhine in tournament competition. After his reign as World Chess Champion, he built a reputation as an exceptionally tough tournament player, at ont point winng eight tournaments in a row. A passionate fan of music, Smyslov only decided upon a career in chess after narrowly losing an audition for the Bolshoi Theater in 1950. He is the oldest living ex-world champion.