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Alexander Kotov
Number of games in database: 656
Years covered: 1935 to 1979
Last FIDE rating: 2247
Overall record: +268 -156 =227 (58.6%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      5 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Nimzo Indian (66) 
    E34 E33 E26 E32 E24
 King's Indian (40) 
    E67 E72 E87 E61 E69
 English (24) 
    A16 A17 A13 A10 A15
 Orthodox Defense (23) 
    D55 D58 D51 D60 D56
 Grunfeld (21) 
    D98 D94 D97 D80 D96
 Queen's Gambit Declined (21) 
    D35 D37 D30 D31 D39
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (74) 
    B85 B24 B84 B51 B91
 Semi-Slav (26) 
    D45 D43 D49 D44 D46
 Caro-Kann (24) 
    B17 B10 B18 B14 B11
 Sicilian Scheveningen (23) 
    B85 B84 B80 B83
 Robatsch (21) 
 Nimzo Indian (20) 
    E32 E59 E33 E38 E22
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Averbakh vs Kotov, 1953 0-1
   Kotov vs Keres, 1950 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Kotov, 1946 0-1
   Kotov vs Petrosian, 1949 1-0
   Kotov vs G Barcza, 1952 1-0
   Kotov vs Unzicker, 1952 1-0
   Kotov vs Kholmov, 1971 1-0
   Kotov vs Gligoric, 1953 1/2-1/2
   Kotov vs Bronstein, 1944 1-0
   Kotov vs E Eliskases, 1952 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   USSR Championship (1948)
   Stockholm Interzonal (1952)
   USSR Championship (1939)
   Hastings 1962/63 (1962)
   Saltsj÷baden Interzonal (1948)
   Moscow (1947)
   USSR Championship (1945)
   Budapest Candidates (1950)
   USSR Championship (1949)
   Zurich Candidates (1953)
   Groningen (1946)
   USSR Championship (1955)
   USSR Championship (1958)
   USSR Championship (1944)
   USSR Championship (1940)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Grandmaster At Work by Benzol
   WCC Index [Zurich 1953] by suenteus po 147
   Think Like A Grandmaster by StuporMoundi
   Moscow 1947 by suenteus po 147

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Alexander Kotov
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(born Aug-12-1913, died Jan-08-1981, 67 years old) Russia
[what is this?]
Alexander Alexandrovich Kotov was born in Tula. He won the Moscow Championship in 1941 [rusbase-1] and was jointly with David Bronstein USSR Champion in 1948 [rusbase-2]. He achieved the GM title in 1950, having qualified for the Budapest Candidates (1950), in which he finished sixth. Kotov again qualified, in grand style with a victory in the Stockholm Interzonal (1952), where his 16.5/20 score was 3 points clear of second place. His Zurich Candidates (1953) appearance was not as successful: he only managed to finish eighth.

Today, Kotov is probably best remembered as an author; his book Think Like A Grandmaster is one of the best-selling chess books of all time. He passed away in Moscow in 1981.

Note: there's another Alexander Kotov from Russia, who was born in 1959.

Wikipedia article: Alexander Kotov

 page 1 of 27; games 1-25 of 656  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. S Belavenets vs Kotov 1-025 1935 Moscow ChE23 Nimzo-Indian, Spielmann
2. Kotov vs L Bogatirev  1-043 1935 MoskouE81 King's Indian, Samisch
3. Kotov vs Chekhover 1-020 1935 Leningrad RUSC18 French, Winawer
4. Alatortsev vs Kotov  ½-½41 1936 Moskou ChA13 English
5. Kotov vs N Sorokin  ½-½41 1936 TournamentB32 Sicilian
6. Kotov vs Panov 0-149 1936 Moscow RUSE62 King's Indian, Fianchetto
7. Kotov vs P Saidkhanov  ½-½48 1936 TournamentD04 Queen's Pawn Game
8. P Dubinin vs Kotov  1-035 1936 Giant FactoryD58 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst
9. Kotov vs Kalmanok 1-022 1936 MoscowC11 French
10. S Slonim vs Kotov  0-134 1936 Moskou ChA04 Reti Opening
11. Kotov vs Bondarevsky 0-127 1936 LeningradA90 Dutch
12. Kotov vs Kan  0-150 1936 Moskou ChD50 Queen's Gambit Declined
13. Kotov vs Ufimtsev 0-145 1936 TournamentB06 Robatsch
14. B Naglis vs Kotov  0-131 1937 Moskou ChB72 Sicilian, Dragon
15. Kotov vs Chistiakov 0-170 1937 Moskou ChC04 French, Tarrasch, Guimard Main line
16. Kasparian vs Kotov  0-140 1937 USSRD01 Richter-Veresov Attack
17. Kan vs Kotov  1-055 1937 Moskou ChD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
18. N Zubarev vs Kotov  0-139 1937 Moskou ChD00 Queen's Pawn Game
19. Kotov vs A Poliak  1-032 1937 Moscow RUSA80 Dutch
20. Panov vs Kotov 0-149 1937 Moskou ChB76 Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack
21. Kotov vs Panov ½-½63 1938 RUSD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
22. Kotov vs Konstantinopolsky  ½-½28 1938 URS-ch sfA40 Queen's Pawn Game
23. A Budo vs Kotov  1-035 1938 Trade UnionsD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
24. Kotov vs Tolush 1-026 1938 Leningrad-chD74 Neo-Grunfeld, Nxd5, 7.O-O
25. Kotov vs M Yudovich Sr.  ½-½16 1938 URS Ch sfD45 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
 page 1 of 27; games 1-25 of 656  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Kotov wins | Kotov loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <... He achieved the GM title in 1950 by qualifying for the Candidates Tournament in Budapest ...>

Actually, Kotov was already qualified for the IGM title by the virtue of holding a GM of USSR title. In turn, he got that title for finishing 2nd in the 1939 USSR Champinsghip in Leningrad. In 1950, all GM USSR titles were summarily converted to IGM.

Mar-04-10  HeMateMe: Was Kotov Spassky's trainer for awhile? Or, am I thinking of< Bondarevsky or Toulash?> I know one of these very tactically sharp people worked with a young Boris, not sure which one, or for how long?
Mar-04-10  TheFocus: Vladimir Zak in early years and then Tolush and then Bondarevsky. He had other trainers too, but these were the main ones.
Premium Chessgames Member
  paavoh: @kingscrusher: Some of those have been added, e.g. Kotov-Hollis, 1962, 1-0

Kotov vs A Hollis, 1962

Sep-30-10  rapidcitychess: Thought process in my brain: (In chess! Anything else would be edge pushing to the reader!)

Maybe I have some kind of gift, but I can usually tell what works and what doesn't really quickly. Yes, some games can be won Capablanca style "I look one move ahead- the best one." In speed games, (and when I move too fast, one problem I have on the internet.) that works. I win lots of games that way.

But in a 90/30 moves game, I usually look if my opponent is doing anything with his move. So first step is: Assess opponents threat.

So once we identify what my opponent wants to do, I try to combine my plan with stopping his. See "My System". Of course, tactics predominate over plans, so we figure that out first.

If the threat is tactical in nature, then we either resolve the treat, counter it, or ignore it. See "Looking for Trouble" by Dan Heisman.If we can meet the tactical threat with combination of our plan, then do so.

If there is no threat, then it is a quiet move. Piano, if you will. Now we can assess the position after ridding ourselves of threats. Of course, if the threat is of position of nature, we are able to assess the position. Still remember that tactics are better than positional things, or at least in short term.

Now we must find a plan, or reassess our old plan. After this we break in to hardcore analysis.

Now we find candidate moves.

This is were I can find moves very quickly.

Now check for tactical errors in the moves, and then analyze a little bit in to each one, and then narrow in down a little, the go in as far as I can depth-wise, assess that position, then go backwards to look for improvements for both sides, and finally blunder-check.

Now I play my move, and hit my clock.

Just my way. When I take my time, I can really play well.

Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: <kingscrusher: There is something painfully wrong with the book "Think Like a Grandmaster" - and in my view it is the seperation presented between Assess/Plan and between Calculation. I think they should all be integrated and this is a view which Tisdall shares in his book which critques Kotov.>

Kotov's approach did not work for me. I did not find his books realistic for my level of (in)competence at the board.

Except for his Essential Knowledge the same goes for Averbakh's admittedly impressive tomes on the endgame, either.

That said, I was thinking how many great players the Soviet Union had in the 1940s-1950s who now seem underappreciated and understudied... Kotov, Boleslavsky (especially), Lilienthal, Averbakh ... even lessor lights such as Lutikov. There games can be a goldmine of learning and enjoyment.

Too many great games for one lifetime!

Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: The title of Grandmaster has been significantly devalued. Alexander Kotov once introduced to Max Euwe a grandmaster who had held the title for over a decade. "Who was that?" asked the then President of FIDE when the grandmaster had left us. "An international grandmaster," was my reply, "you yourself awarded him the title."

(Source: Train Like a Grandmaster by Alexander Kotov)

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: <That said, I was thinking how many great players the Soviet Union had in the 1940s-1950s who now seem underappreciated and understudied... Kotov, Boleslavsky (especially), Lilienthal, Averbakh ... even lessor lights such as Lutikov. There games can be a goldmine of learning and enjoyment.>

People forget how close Boleslavsky came to qualifying for a title match with Botvinnik in 1951. His playoff match with Bronstein could not have been any closer. Lilienthal was a great positional player - very under-rated.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Quote of the Day

< "When you have finished analyzing all the variations and gone along all the branches of the tree of analysis you must first of all write the move down on your score sheet, before you play it." >

--- Kotov

Apr-15-12  backrank: <James Demery: How could Kotov`s highest rating be 2203? Wasn`t he a GM? I thought he was one of the strongest players in the world right after WW 2?>

Very strange indeed. Almost as strange as the fact that Kotov was obviously able to play a game as late as in 2006, more than 25 years after his own death :)

Very probably, the reason for both is simply the existence of another player with the same name.

But thank you, for such everlasting delights, not mentioning all the wrong game scores, duplicate games, important missing games, etc. :)

Aug-12-12  brankat: R.I.P. GM Kotov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Penguincw: Quote of the Day from 5th April 2012:

< "When you have finished analyzing all the variations and gone along all the branches of the tree of analysis you must first of all write the move down on your score sheet, before you play it." > -Kotov>

It is now illegal under FIDE rules to write down one's move before having played it; I knew a strong player who was wont to write down his move as a means of distracting his opponents.

Aug-12-13  Jamboree: As useful as Kotov's ideas were, there are still two key concepts that I employ which Kotov doesn't mention at all. These two concepts are often the difference between being a middle-level player and being a dangerous and good player.

The first concept, which was well outlined (I recently discovered, though I have been thinking this way for many years) in a training video by Maurice Ashley is to NOT look at what your opponent's most recent move DOES, but rather at what it UNdoes. Every time any piece moves, it abandons its previous position, and in so doing un-protects something, or ceases to have certain moves available to it. So before you think about anything else, first look to see if your opponent's move has created any weaknesses, unprotected something, or allowed a previously impossible combination. Only after digesting all of that, THEN look to see what threats his move created against you.

Most people are so panicked about the threats that they neglect to look for the opponent's newly created weaknesses.

The second analytical technique I use which Kotov (and everyone else) completely ignores is to calculate moves in REVERSE order of likelihood and logic -- especially in sharp positions. Thus, when it's my turn to move and the position is dangerous and unbalanced, I initially very quickly consider all the WORST and most RIDICULOUS moves I could make -- just to ensure that I'm not missing some brilliancy.

So, the first moves I consider in any position are ways to sacrifice my queen for no apparent reason. Next, if one of my pieces is attacked, I ponder what would happen if I just allowed it to be captured. Then I see what would happen if I walked my king directly into danger. Then I ponder ways to give away material purposely. Etc. 99% of the time, I very quickly confirm (in a matter of seconds in a blitz game, or maybe a minute or two in a tournament game) that these terrible-seeming moves are indeed terrible. Ah, but that remaining 1% -- that's when the magic happens. You see a brilliancy that no one else even considered.

If no brilliancy manifests, then little by little I eliminate all the self-evidently bad moves until I am left with a small number of "good" candidate moves, and I can concentrate on those without any nagging feeling that I'm missing something.

You'd be surprised how often I find unexpected and disorienting replies in my games that really keep my opponents off-balance.

I attribute my advance from expert-level to master-level to these exact two calculating techniques. Combine them with Kotov's ideas, and hey -- a person could really get strong!

Aug-12-13  SimonWebbsTiger: @<Jamboree>

Re. your second point, I have a vague recollection that Kotov wrote looking at sacs was the starting point for Tolush. Satisfied there were none that worked, Tolush would begin to analyse. Possibly the same approach you use?

Re. the first point, I think Dan Heisman mentions it with his "safety" at chesscafe. The idea being: has my opponent, with his last move created a positional or tactical threat I need to prevent -- prophylactic thinking with Dvoretsky. But, also importantly, if there is no threat I must meet, has my opponent created new opportunities for me?

Aug-12-13  Nosnibor: I first met Kotov following his victory in the Hastings Tournament of 1962/63.He came to my home town of Leicester and played 30 games simultaneously .His result was +16,=10,-4(70%).My game went as follows:-White: A Kotov Black: J K Robinson.Grunfeld Defence.1.d4 Nf6,2c4.g6,3Nc3,d5,4Bf4,c6,5e3,Bg7.6Nf3,0-0.7Qb3- ,dxc4.8Bxc4,g5.9Be2,Be6.10Qc2,Na6.110-0,Nb4.12Qd-
1,Qb6. 13h3,Nbd5.14Nxd5,Nxd5.15Be5,a5.16Bxg7.Kxg7.17Bd3- ,f6.18h3,a4.19Nd2,Qa5.20Ne4,Nb6.21Nc5,Bf7.22Qf3,-
,Nb6.Draw agreed.1/2-1/2.I was still a teenager when I played my illustrious oppenent!
Oct-15-13  Johnny5Chess: Kingscrusher- Kotov never said to not play positionally. In fact, in the book think like a grand master he had an entire section dedicated to figuring out positions non-tactical in nature. All Kotov asserts is that we should strive to calculate as much as humanly possible to clearly understand a position and to avoid blunders. His book can be summed up in three words, don't be lazy.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: ♔ Quote of the Day ♔

< "If you study the classic examples of endgame play you will see how the king was brought up as soon as possible even though there seemed no particular hurry at the time." >


Activating the king in the endgame is very important.

Dec-19-13  Yopo: [Event "?"]
[Site "Kiev"]
[Date "1957.??.??"]
[White "Nezhmetdinov,Rashit "]
[Black "Kotov,Alexander "]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B11"]
[Round "?"]

1. e4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 Bg4 4. h3 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 Nf6 6. g3 e6 7. Bg2 Nxe4 8. Nxe4 dxe4 9. Qe2 f5 10. O-O Qf6 11. d3 exd3 12. Qxd3 Nd7 13. Be3 Bc5 14. Rad1 Ne5 15. Qb3 Bxe3 16. Qxe3 Nf7 17. Rfe1 e5 18. Qc5 h5 19. Rd3 Rh6 20. Red1 Qe6 21. Qb4 b6 22. Qd2 h4 23. gxh4 Rxh4 24. Rd7 Kf8 25. Qc3 Rh6 26. Qa3+ Kg8 27. Re7 Qf6 28. Rdd7 Rf8 29. Qb3 Rg6 30. Kf1 e4 31. a4 a5 32. c3 b5 33. axb5 cxb5 34. h4 b4 35. cxb4 axb4 36. Qxb4 Ne5 37. Qb3+ Kh7 38. Rc7 Qa6+ 0-1

Mar-14-14  capafischer1: jamboree, I find it strange for you to criticize gm kotov. Let me see, you are a master right? Kotov was a 3 times winner of Russian championships and several hundred points higher than you. Plus, he was a fantastic writer and a second of world champion spassky. Yet if your training methods were superior you would be much higher rated. But the exact opposite has happened. You see my point.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: R.I.P. GM and World Championship Candidate Alexander Kotov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  optimal play: [photo of Kotov in Melbourne, 1963]

<<Knights, rooks, bishops, queens and kings are every-day words to 50 year-old Russian, Alexander Kotov, who is an engineer, author, inventor, and chess champion.

Kotov, an international chess grandmaster, is in Melbourne to play in the Victorian Chess tournaments.

He is the only grandmaster of chess entered in the tournament.

He has played up to 47 opponents at the same time and beaten them all.>

- The Canberra Times (ACT) issue Thursday 31 October 1963 page 31>

Mar-23-15  TheFocus: <After a great deal of discussion in Soviet literature about the correct definition of a combination, it was decided that from the point of view of a methodical approach it was best to settle on this definition - A combination is a forced variation with a sacrifice> - Alexander Kotov.
Mar-23-15  TheFocus: <Once there is the slightest suggestion of combinational possibilities on the board, look for unusual moves. Apart from making your play creative and interesting it will help you to get better results> - Alexander Kotov.
Mar-29-15  TheFocus: <In analysing complicated variations one must examine each branch of the tree once and once only> - Alexander Kotov.
Mar-29-15  TheFocus: <When you have finished analysing all the variations and gone along all the branches of the tree of analysis you must first of all write the move down on your score sheet, before you play it> - Alexander Kotov.
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