Tuesday, 13 October 2009


I have just finished struggling through Grandmaster Kotov's book "Think like a grandmaster" published by Batsford in the early 1970's.
Kotov covers all the standard things the centre open and closed,planning,positional judgement,pawn structures and many other topics.
This is the book that wants you to think your next set of moves using the tree analysis method.
With branches for sub variations branching out from the main trunk of moves.
The book has some typos but i found the book wanting,it did not infuse me as Stean's book did(see book review 2).

This book for me does not go into enough depth in some chapters and to much in others.
On the chapter about endings, we pick up a game from move 22 it shows how one side gets an advantage, then on move 54 it stops with "and white forced a win on move 86".
But does not show you how this happened.
The chapter on opening study is very general only 6 pages long.

On the other hand in the chapter "The tree of analysis" to many variations are given making it at times difficult to follow.Muddying what could be clearer waters.

The examples used are taken mainly from either Soviet championships or the Candidates 1953 tournament in Zurich.
In fact so great is the number of positions and part games used by Kotov from the 1953 Candidates, i bought the Dover book written by Bronstein on the 1953 Zurich tournament.

Perhaps this book is above me,i dont know, but i could follow the instructions in the book.
The test is if i can remember to use what is in this book when i play.

This book is classed as a classic by many people but it did not do it for me.


LinuxGuy said...

I think Kotov became strong in calculation. The knock on that (detractors attribute to) is that you also need to find the best moves/ideas. But Kotov played at traditional time-control tournaments, and you can examine more moves.

As an aside, nothing I've memorized really helps me with fast chess, not even a winning game. At slow chess, I am probably a couple class levels stronger just because I have the time. It's not because of what I've learned, it's mainly because it's how I was born or whatever.

Learning more chess stuff doesn't seem to change that fundamental equation for me. It did in the sense that I could play faster, but then opponent would play even faster, no matter how faster I play, because they were born different as well, IMHO. Let's say if I became a master at blitz, the bullet-chess people would still laugh at me, there would always be someone faster. My guess is that's probably why they invent those time controls, just so that they can prove they are faster. When I play online nowdays, when I do, I go mostly for speed, even if it is Standard time-controls.

At slow chess, I think Kotov was on the right path, if you can discipline yourself to think that way. I can think that way at slow-chess, no problem.

LinuxGuy said...

I think the test should be "Is this move going to be good down the line, seven moves from now?" If you are looking that far down the line, chances are that you will recognize the threats and such. If you are only looking to conveniently get out of a jam within the next say 3 moves or so, the move/strategy might not defend further down the line.

LinuxGuy said...

Heck, at fast online time-controls, we probably often don't even recognize the jam, just what we "like" to see - it's more fun that way. ;-)

You seem to look far ahead in your games, ChessX, but for me my defense suffers in quick online games.

More time = more time to doubt/reflection.

CHESSX said...


Good to the point comments as usual.

You said "More time = more time to doubt/reflection"
I think that is very over looked in chess.

Many times i have seen a move (not necessarily the best move)gone to play it,then slowly talked myself out of playing it.
I then most times play a lesser move,i know i have done this more or less straight away.

But the thing is i have done this quite a few times.

But the few times i have played recently time has been short,5 or 10 minute games,and i tend to think less but still play more or less the same moves or in some cases better moves,than if i had plenty of time.

Why do we chess players doubt ourselfs?

Some of the great chess players, Bronstein and Reshevsky often got into time trouble,i think this was because they had to much time to think.
Old time controls for these players wher 40 moves in 2.5 hours.

They often played the last 10 to 15 moves in only a few minutes to make the time control,so i think they may have been capable of playing the same chess in 90minutes/40 moves.

Less time same chess.

chesstiger said...

I have the book but i find it still way over my head so i am gonna wait reading it until i will be a +2000 player.

Tommyg said...

I once asked my coach about thought process and he kind of poo pooed it.

I didn't specifically ask him about Kotov as I have not even looked at the book, but I did ask him about calculation method, and thought process.

My coach kind of sparsed it down to a bare bones thing:

Just look at a move, look at the possible reactions and keep going as far as you can until it is refuted. Alburt talks about this in his Pocket Training Book. Alburt mentions intuition as something we should pay more attention to. (i think this is what you were getting at ChessX)

I have read some articles dealing with the whole tree method but it seems like a lot of overkill. I think worrying about our thought process might make us miss the actual moves on the board.

LinuxGuy said...

I've come to the conclusion that it's the doubting that makes me a strong player.

Even when there is a king-side assault, sometimes the most important thing is to step out of a potential pin first, rather than "How can I go 'Shirov' on this guy?" It's not going to happen that way, going to overlook a counter-attacking move instead, if you get caught up in pretty attacks. Heck, even gaza treated Shirov as if a lightweight, OTB.

When I am really on, I go back at the end of all the analysis and 'doubt my doubts' and then there is usually gut approval of one of the moves.

None of this happens in on-line games unless it's like G/90 or more.

When I am really sticking it to someone OTB, I am thinking to myself, if anyone asked me at that moment "Do you know how much I had to doubt to beat this guy? A painstaking lot, not being materialistic at the wrong times, etc."

CHESSX said...

I know what you mean about this book,but once i had started i wanted to finish it,perhaps i should have put the book away for a good few years after chapter 1.

Thank you "Intuition" thats the word that sums up what i was trying to say.
Intuition is in us all,how can it be developed?
Can it be developed?
Is that one of the secrets of a grandmaster? a highly developed state of intuition.