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During the stop-over at the orbiting space station in his travel to the Moon, Heywood Floyd meets a group of Russians that ask him about likely problems at the Clavius base. One of the Russians, in fact an old friend of Floyd, is named Andrei Smyslov.

I wonder if this was intended by Kubrick as an homage to the Soviet chess champion Vasily Smyslov, who held briefly the world title some ten years before the movie came out. I think this is not unlikely given the well-known love of Kubrick for the game of chess (which makes a more direct appearance later in the movie)

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Wikipedia claims that it was, and cites this 1999 article from chess site ChessBase. However, the article doesn't provide any proof beyond what you've already stated: that Kubrick was a "chess fanatic", and therefore, the reference must have been intentional.

While waiting for his ship's departure, [Floyd] stops at a lounge and has a conversation with an old acquaintance. During the conversation, he's introduced to Dr. Smyslov. The chess reference here, of course, is to Vasily Smyslov, World Chess Champion from 1957 to 1958.

Several other chess websites report the same thing, including Chess Maniac:

Early in the movie, there was a character named Smyslov, the chief Soviet scientist who visited the space station. Smyslov was world chess champion from 1957 to 1958, and Kubrick purposely picked that name.

I can't find a first-hand source confirming it (i.e. a quote from Kubrick, or someone else involved in the film's production), and all the articles I've found seem to take it as a given that the reference was intentional. It is, however, definitely unlikely to have been a coincidence.

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    Thanks for the refernces to Wikipedia and Chess Maniac. Obviously a direct confirmation from an interview would be nice. Commented Apr 11, 2022 at 16:43

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