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Cenek Kottnauer vs Alexander Kotov
"Think Like an International Master" (game of the day Sep-30-2010)
Moscow-Prague (1946), Moscow URS, rd 4, May-??
Semi-Slav Defense: Meran. Blumenfeld Variation (D49)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  gars: Kottnauer's play is very sharp and to the point, but Kotov seems to be very passive, not in his own self. I wonder why.
Sep-30-10  belgradegambit: Thanks <Aniara> it was my pun. A nice sharp game from Kottnauer.
Sep-30-10  Ferro: KOTOV
Sep-30-10  Ferro: KOTOV.
Sep-30-10  rjsolcruz: The great Kotov was not thinking like a grandmaster on this particular game. Maybe, just maybe, he was evaluating this move or that move, but made another move just like that.
Sep-30-10  bvwp: I think it was Harry Golombek who said that, in all due modesty, he had been able to think like a grandmaster. What he'd not been able to do was to win like one.
Sep-30-10  laskerian: That is a great pun. Kotov trained and thought like a GM, but played like an IM.I suspect that while playing this game, Kotov thought of so many options, but played the wrong ones instead.

Kotov was a great player; actually one of the reasons why I loved Bronstein's Zurich 1953 Interzonal (aside from Bronstein's wonderful annotations) is the way Kotov played some of the games there.

Can someone give me the game with the title "The Knights who say Nh1". That, I think is another great pun.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: White switches the attack from the rank to the file;black has no defense.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: The Moscow - Prague match of 1946 was with teams of 6 players, and 12 rounds of play. Moscow won the match by a score of +37 -6 =29 (51 1/2 - 20 1/2).

The top Moscow players: Bronstein +10 -1 =1; Kotov +8 -1 =3; Smyslov +7 -1 =4; Alatortsev +4 =5; & Lilienthal +3 =6.

The top Prague players: Kottnauer +3 -6 =3; & Zita +1 -5 =6.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: The position gets complicated after 21...Rg8!?

click for larger view

22 Rfe1 does not look that good now because black has 22...Bf6, pinning the knight and theatening 23...Ne4.

If 22 b4 then 22...Nd7 looks OK for black.

Can't see a clear way forward for white.

Sep-30-10  PivotalAnorak: laskerian: Nimzowitsch vs Rubinstein, 1926
Sep-30-10  belgradegambit: Jimfromprovidence: 22.Bc7 followed by 23 b4 (after Qc6) my slow computer thinks white is somewhat better.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: As noted by <Cibator>, Kottnauer on the BBC radio (1962) series, "My Favorite Game", reviewed this game.

Kottnauer stated that the moves up through 19...Kf6 were made very quickly by both players.

At that point, Kottnauer said he realized to his horror that he was not sure how to continue. In addition, he had the uncanny feeling that he had fallen into a prepared variation.

Kottnauer mentioned that he took a little walk at that point, and in passing the captain of the Prague team, he asked him if he knew what White should do at that point. Kottnauer added that he would not be commenting on the morality of discussing the game with a third person.

Kottnauer said the captain suggested giving check with the knight and taking the rook. Kottnauer said he did not take the advice seriously. Fritz agrees with Kottnauer's decision: (-.89) (20 ply) 20.Nh7+ Kf7 21.Nxf8 Kxf8 22.Qg6 Qc7.

Returning to his table, Kottnauer started to do some serious thinking. He said he finally recognized that 20.Qh4 was a theoretically recommended move, and that it could lead to a draw after 20...Rh8 21.Nh7+.

However, Kottnauer said he was not satisfied with a draw as White in an agressive opening, and he was also suspicious of a possible improvement by Black after 20.Qh4. Later, he said, it was confirmed how right his instinct was, as Kotov was prepared to answer 20.Qh4, with a recommendation by Keres, 20...e5!.

Fritz confirms that the Keres/Kotov prepared move was winning for Black: 20.Qh4? e5! (-2.20) (19 ply) 21.f4 e4 22.Nxe4+ Ke6 23.Nxc5+ Qxc5, or (-2.48) (19 ply) 21.Nh7+ Kf7 22.Qh5+ Kg8 23.Nxf8 Bxf8.

For fully 45 minutes, Kottnauer said he evaluated and revaluated the position. Finally, he said he decided to burn his bridges and to throw all his forces in to attack the Black king. With that in mind he played, 20.Bf4! (Fritz at 20 ply, indicates an approximately equal evaluation for both 20.Re1 Rg8, and for 20.Bf4 Ke7).

Sep-30-10  chesssantosh: i have been watching GOTD in cg for more than two years but truth to be told i have never cracked the pun.but today i am very proud of myself that i understood the know,you have to be familiar with general knowledge may be across the web to understand the far as today's GOTD is concerned kotov is well known chess writer and to name few his books are 'think like a grandmaster' 'play like a grandmaster' 'how to become a grandmaster' etc.well here he is beaten by a international master so the pun is satire to him either suggesting him to think,first of all,like a international before going into grandmaster or don't think too much like a now i feel it gives immense pleasure when u crack a pun..hoping to do the same again
Sep-30-10  chesssantosh: at <laskerian> i dont think the pun suggests he played like a international master
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Kottnauer said his move 20.Bf4, with the threat of 21.Be5+, caused Kotov to take some time before he played 20...Ke7.

His next move, 21.Rac1, shook Kotov, and caused him to think for some twenty minutes.

Fritz indicates an equal evaluation after 21.Rac1: (.00) (21 ply) 21...Rg8!, (.00) (21 ply) 22.Bc7 Qc6 23.b4 Ne4 24.Nxe4 Qxe4 25.Qg5+, or (.-12) (21 ply) 22.Nh7 Bb7 23.Rxc5 Qxc5 24.Rc1 Qxc1+ 25.Bxc1.

Kottnauer indicated his moves 21.Rac1 & 22.Rfe1 did not have precise meanings, but were based on sound principles, bringing his rooks into the battle, and making it impossible for Black to consolidate his position.

Kottnauer admitted he was still worried about his queen's flank. He remembered how relieved he felt when Kotov did not dare to take his rook pawn (21...Rxa2?). Kottnauer apparently had not spent much time analyzing 21...Rxa2?, as Fritz shows this move would have been a serious error: (2.96) (20 ply) 21...Rxa2? 22.b4 Rg8 23.bxc5 Qd8 24.Bd6+.

As noted in the above analysis, Kotov could have maintained an equal position with 21...Rg8!. However, after 21...Ra7?, he had a losing position. Kottnauer noted that 21...Ra7? was played with the intention of protecting the 7th rank, but he made no comment regarding the much superior 21...Rg8!.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: After 21...Ra7? 22.Rfe1! Bd7, Kottnauer said, that with the optimism of the attacker, he could see the final breakthrough, with the move 23.b4!.

However, Kottnauer stated there could have been complications had Kotov played 23...Na4.

Fritz shows, that after 23...Na4, the game was clearly won for White by 24.Nxe6! Bxe6 25.Qxg7+ Rf7 26.Rxe6+! Kxe6 27.Qe5+ Kd7 28.Qd5+ Ke7 29.Rc8

However, Kottnauer was of the opinion that best after 23...Na4 was: 24.Nxe6! Bxe6 25.Qxg7+ Rf7 26.Bg5+ Kd7 27.Qh8 Nc3 28.Rxe6 Qxe6 29.Qxd4+ Kc8 30.Rxc3+ Rac7 31.Rxc7+ Rxc7 32.h4, winning. Kottnauer's 26.Bg5+ wins, but it is not as good as 26.Rxe6+!.

As played, 23.b4! Na6 24.Nxe6 Bxe6 25.Qxg7+ Rf7 26.Bg5+ Kd7 (not 26...Kd6 27.Rxe6+!), and now, as Kottnauer said, comes the quiet, problem-like key move: 27.Qh8!!, and Black has no further defense.

As the game approached its' end, Kotnauer admitted that even while knowing that he had been on the receiving end many times in the past, and would again in the future, he still felt a shameless pleasure in seeing his opponent's ears and neck turning a deep red in shock and recognition of the approaching end.

Kottnauer finalized his comments by saying that it was probable that he most liked this game because it was a good example of power play in chess.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: Kottnauer was an IM: the game shows us what you can achieve when you 'think like an International Master'. Apart from a sardonic nod to his well-known books, I don't think the pun implies a negative comment on Kotov's play.
Sep-30-10  belgradegambit: FWIW Domdaniel is correct. When I chose this game and title it was because Kottnauer was an International Master and here he was beating an opponent who "thinks like" and is a GM. No disrespect intended to to Kotov, just thought it was an ironic title for the game.
Sep-30-10  rapidcitychess: One of the few puns I really laughed on. Nice game too.
Oct-02-10  gauer: <belgradegambit: ...he was beating an opponent who "thinks like" and is a GM>. Kotov's biography page suggests that in 1946, he was still a young enough contestant for earning his GM title 4 years later (& Kottnauer picked up his IM the same year as the freshly-elected future GM). Luckily, Kotov later got out of that train of thought.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: < gauer: <belgradegambit: ...he was beating an opponent who "thinks like" and is a GM>. Kotov's biography page suggests that in 1946, he was still a young enough contestant for earning his GM title 4 years later >

Actually, Kotov was already a GM in 1946; he became a GM of USSR in 1939. In 1950, when the new IGM title was created by FIDE, all GMs of USSR automatically converted to IGMs by a FIDE decree.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: That last move was a mistake. White will win a bishop or rook.
Feb-24-13  sfm: <Penguincw: That last move was a mistake. White will win a bishop or rook.> The problem is, that there is no move left which is not a "mistake"! White threatens 28.Qc8+ with disaster. What to do about that?
Premium Chessgames Member
  fiercebadger: Kottnauer was once my chess coach, he gave an evening class in Bell st London. I remember he was a little impatient with us patzers . at the end of the class he would play a simul and enjoy smashing us all up
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