Think, Play, and Train like a Grandmaster
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.