An examination of improvement and other issues. . . Continued

Jul 24, 2010, 1:40 AM |

Think like a Grandmaster… Alexander Kotov


This week as part of my investigation I began to explore Kotov’s Think like a Grandmaster a  best selling chess book. Which was I think, the first serious attempt to explore the actual process behind grandmaster thought and from this attempt to explain the difference between them and the average player. It is also well know for the system of analysis based improvement it proposed something I had my first attempt at today. The first thing I learnt from this book was that I really don’t know how to analyse and that learning is going to be tricky.  The essence of Kotov’s idea is that you get analysed, positions, games etc and proceed to personally analyses them writing down the trickier variations, but never moving the pieces. As a bit of a homage to his ideas I tried to apply his method to one of his own games.


While I can see the merit of his ideas my first attempt was a bit of a failure and I didn’t analyse as many of the games positions as I would have liked. I found it really difficult to focus without any form of opponent; I just couldn’t get the level of competitive focus which allows for really deep analysis.  His analysis tree technique also slightly threw me with its strange branches so I ended up using the same kind of idea but my own personal layout. This is also an appropriate place to put GM Lein’s comment on the analysis tree technique, “I don’t think like a tree – do you think like a tree?”. While for now most of the book went over my head and I’m struggling with the techniques, I’ve been told that too seriously study a chess book requires at least a month. I think the technique of recognising candidate move should be a useful one as I usually just tend to go with my gut instincts only analysing out tactics. My intent is to begin bringing this practice into my games and in all my next post to have analysed some key positions from the game using Kotov’s technique.


An interesting issue that I also discovered while reading about Kotov and I may investigate further in my project, is the so called ‘propaganda techniques’ used by the Soviet Union. In the 1961 paperback version of The Soviet School of Chess the introduction included this statement "...literature of this type, though helpful in our ultimate understanding of the game, is very often riddled with distortion. The publishers of this Dover edition are very much concerned that readers be aware of the propaganda techniques employed, even in the history of chess, by the Soviet Union." Previously besides in relation to Fisher I had been unaware how political chess is, but I’ve discovered that even today’s player are concerned about the organizations which affect the game. So that should be my next topic... 


This was sufficiently out of my own opening knowledge and difficult enough that Idecided to start my analysis here. Since I can’t copy my tree I’ll just type it out.

1. Be3, Qc2 2.BxNc5, d6xBc5 3. Rd2, Bg4 4. h3, Bg5

                     3. Ne1

                2. h3, Bd7, 3. Rd2.

                2. h3, c6xd5 3.Nc3xd5, Nf3xNd5 4. e4xNd5


 I also looked at other beginning moves but disregarded them. I have a page of similar annotation but it often repeated similar ideas and was the result of me rechecking lines. I stopped analysing when I thought I knew what was going to be played. My line was 1. Be3, Qc2 2. h3, c6xd5 3. Nc3xd5, Nf3x Nd5 4. e4x Nd5. After looking at the game I cant help but wonder why, obviously their plans were over my head.


As always thanks for reading and I appreciate all comments, especially from those who have used Kotov’s methods (=