Vasily Smyslov, (World Champion in 1957-58) passed away on 27 March 2010 at the age of 89.
He had a long and illustrious chess career. Though he got interested in chess early at the age of 6, he began taking part in Tournaments only by 14. After 3 years he won the USSR Junior championship and the next few years established himself as a Grandmaster of world class.
He was one of the five players selected to compete for the 1948 World Championship to determine who will succeed the late Alekhine. Smyslov came second in this historic tournament.
In 1957, he defeated Botvinnik 12.5-9.5 to win the World Championship. Botvinnik regained it the successive year (during this time, the champion had the right to defend the crown in the very next year).
He was an active tournament player even into the eighties and stood in the top 3 in most of them. He also contributed enormously to team gold medal wins in the Olympiads representing USSR.
His playing style was positional and featured spectacular tactical shots. He was famous for his precise handling of the Endgame.
He has authored many chess books; especially the book on Rook endgames is a classic.
Apart from chess his alternate passion was opera singing. He was a fine baritone singer and retained this passion for singing until his final years.