World Champion 1957-1958, Vasilly Smyslov died the 27th March this year. He was one of the strongest players of all times and as late as in 1983, at the age of 62, he made it to the final in the Candidate finals (where he put up strong resistance against the young Kasparov).
Differences in style are often exaggerated by authors and journalists. Smyslov was often said to have a harmonious or universal playing style. Well, that's probably as true for him as for almost all top players.
Here is an example of him outplaying a weaker opponent, and it indeed looks simple. You may ask why I don't show a titanic struggle against Botwinnik or Kasparov. The answer is simply that I analysed this game when preparing a lesson on 1.g3, and I liked it.
V.Smyslov - M.Fuller, Politiken Cup (Copenhagen) 1980
Smyslov was a versatile player who mastered most openings - including the possible transpositions between them.
1...g6 2.Bg2 c5
An invitation to a Closed Sicilian...
Now we reach positions that more frequently arise from 1.g3 c5 2.Bg2 Nc6 3.e4. A more independent line is 4...d6 5.c3 Nf6, when Karjakin-Carlsen, Wch blitz Moscow 2009 continued 6.d4 0–0 7.0–0 Nc6 8.h3 e5 9.Be3 cxd4 10.cxd4 exd4 11.Nxd4 Ne5 12.Nc3 Nc4 with equal chances.
This can be said to be the point of White's set-up. By holding back his queen's knight, he is able to better control the d4 square.
5...e5 6.0–0 Nge7 7.d3 d6
Or 7...0–0 8.a3 d5 when Dorfman-Magerramov, Beltsy 1979 somewhat surprisingly continued 9.exd5!? Nxd5 10.c4!? (these ideas are well known from the King's Indian with reversed colours) 10...Nc7 11.Nbc3 Bf5 12.Ne4 Ne6 13.Be3 Ncd4 14.Nxd4 exd4 15.Bd2 h5 16.b4 and White's position had more potential.
9.b4 Qd7 10.Be3 b6 11.b5 Nd8 12.c4 (Dia)
12...Rb8 13.Nbc3 f5 14.f3 0–0 15.Qd2 Nf7 16.a4 h6 17.a5 g5 18.axb6 axb6 19.Ra6 += Fuller-Franklin, Brighton 1980.
13.Nbc3 Bh3 14.Bxh3 Qxh3 15.a4 f5 16.Bg5 f4
Black is untitled and not quite in Smyslov's league but a strong player who uses the tactical resources available to fight the grand old man.
17.f3 fxg3 18.hxg3 (Dia)
This creates a new weakness and simplifies White's task. After 25...Nc8 26.Nd5 Nxd5 27.exd5, White's advantage is also huge, and he can combine play in the a-file with ideas of a5-a6, completely immobilizing a knight on c8.
26.Nd5 Ncxd5 27.exd5 bxa5 28.Rxa5
29.dxe4 Nc8 30.Ra6 Nb6 (Dia)
White is a healthy pawn up and has the more active pieces.
37...Kf7 38.Ne4 Nxe4 39.Kxe4 Re7+
39...Ke7 40.Ke5 is not better.
I am not sure whether Black lost on time or resigned in view of lines like 40...h6 41.d6 Re1 42.Rc7+ Ke8 43.Rxa7 Rb1 44.b6! Rxb6 45.Ke6 Rb8 46.Rh7.