Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Think, Play, and Train like a Grandmaster

Submitted by GM Julio_Becerra on Wed, 10/27/2010 at 2:13am.
Alexander Kotov was born on the 12th of August 1913 in Tula, Russia. His trilogy of books “Think Like a Grandmaster”, “Play Like a Grandmaster”, and “Train Like a Grandmaster”, are his best coverletter! The first one is one of the best-selling chess books of all time. Also Kotov wrote a polemic book “The Soviet School of Chess” (1958) where he exposed that Soviet Chess was confident and aggressive, as opposed to the chess played by the conventional and conservative, decadent, capitalist, imperialist, formalist West. A good book, but tremendously chauvinist! Another, Kotov classic, co-authored with the Paul Keres, is “The Art of the Middle Game.”
Kotov was a great admirer of former World Champion Alexander Alekhine, writing a complete four-volume biographical series of books on his life and career, which helped considerably in Alekhine's rehabilitation in the Soviet Union.
As a player, Kotov also had good results. One of his best early results was the 2nd place in the 1939 USSR Championship. Here he won the Soviet Union Grandmaster title, the 3rd Soviet player to hold the title after Botvinnik and Grigory Levenfish. He won the Moscow Championship in 1941 and the USSR championship title in 1948 together with the rising star David Bronstein.
By qualifying for the Candidates Tournament in Budapest 1950, Kotov achieved the FIDE Grandmaster titled. Same year he finished 1st ahead of Vasily Smyslov at Venice in 1950. In 1953 qualified in grand style with a victory in the Stockholm Interzonal scoring 16.5/20, three points ahead of second place! He played for the USSR at the Chess Olympiads in 1952 and 1954. Also Kotov was the chief arbiter at the Chess Olympiads of 1972 and 1974.
He passed away in Moscow on January 8, 1981.

Kotov, Alexander vs. Yudovich, Mikhail M
URS-ch11 / Leningrad
Round 9 | 1939
ECO: D39 | 1-0
White to move

Kotov, Alexander vs. Keres, Paul
Candidates Tournament / Budapest
Round 14 | 1950
ECO: E24 | 1-0
White to move

Botvinnik, Mikhail vs. Kotov, Alexander
Staunton Memorial / Groningen
Round 14 | 1946
ECO: E24 | 0-1
Black to move

Averbakh, Yuri L vs. Kotov, Alexander
Candidates Tournament / Zuerich
Round 14 | 23 Sep 1953
ECO: A55 | 0-1
Black to move

Alexander Kotov vs. Ratmir Kholmov
ECO: E14 | 1-0
White to move

by Kingscrusher . London United Kingdom
Member Since: Jul 2007
Member Points: 122
Hi there
Tell us please - do you really think Grandmasters think like Trees with the candidate move system?! Maybe Soltis, Rowson and other GMs have it wrong when they say that a lot of Kotov's think like a Grandmaster is impractical, and too exhausting to actually use in practice.
Also what is the relationship between Kotov's games and style of play and opening choices and the candidate move system. His style looks positional to me - it did when he played at Hastings. I have not seen a greater disconnection ever between a person's writings and their actual games.
The one connection I did see with a candidate move system and a practical game was an *adjudicated* position where the Russians wanted to work within a team to analyse a position. And in that manner it is a systematic way of *documenting* findings - when analysing a position at leisure and perhaps wanting to assign candidate moves to players as a team effort. It was one of Kotov's brilliances with a queen sac. This was adjudication analysis.
I have done quite a few videos about Kotov's book - and mostly I hate it. I prefer strategic oriented books like "My system" by Nimzovich. I.e. addressed at human beings - and not machines, or getting people to think like machines.
Here are my videos:

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