7th World Champion, 1957 - 1958
Born in Moscow, Russia in 1921. He learned much about chess from his father and studied the chess books in his father's library. Smyslov was an opera singer but made chess his career after narrowly failing an audition for the Bolshoi Opera in 1950. He once said, "I have always lived between chess and music" and brought music to his games. He once sang operatic extracts on Swiss radio and during the interval of a serious living chess game against Botvinnik he sang to an audience of thousands.
He defeated Botvinnik in 1957 World Championship match but lost the title back to Botvinnik in the 1958 rematch.