Alexander Kotov. Some Games, Just Because I Like Them!
Kotov. Amsterdam 1967. Griffin on twitter.

Alexander Kotov. Some Games, Just Because I Like Them!


O.K. I have a day off today, so grabbing the first book I set eyes on out of the bookcase I had a look at some chess. 

It was this rather nice book.

Alexander Kotov. A player most of you will have heard of - perhaps you will have read one of the many, many books he was involved in. Indeed, one of my favourites is 'The Soviet School of Chess', co-written with Yudovich, which explains a couple of my game choices here.

Indeed, after the 1953 Candidates Tournament, he slowly became less and less of a competitive player, and more a writer, author and one of the most important editors of chess works in the Soviet system.

In fact, I recall a story that when Korchnoi defected, the Soviet player who was most upset was Kotov, because it meant that he would have to spend hours editing Korchnoi's name out of various books!!

Kotov as he was around that time, in his little match with the much missed Ian Wells.

Indeed, it was on that visit to England that a story arose - again, I don't know if it's true - to the effect that a young Brit said to him '' Oh!! So you were a Grandmaster too!!''.  The innocence of it.!

Kotov was - officially - the third Grandmaster of the Soviet Union - after Botvinnik and Levenfish. Back in the day, the Grandmaster title meant that you were capable of competing at the very highest level. In 1952 he won the Interzonal Tournament by a silly margin, and was one of the favourites to go on to challenge Botvinnik for the title. The relevant cross-table. (When Fischer did similarly it became the stuff of legend! Nowadays Kotov's result is pretty much forgotten. As Walter Browne used to say 'Go Figure!')

                                                         Stockholm Interzonal. 1952.

As is well documented now, Smyslov was the favoured choice of the Soviet authorities - they even gave Smyslov  Kotov's second - Simagin. However, in the event, Kotov was the only player to win a game from Smyslov.

!953 Candidates. Smyslov, Boleslavsky, Kotov, and Rogard. Via Douglass Griffin on twitter.

I will use a number of Griffin's images here by way of advertising just how brilliant his picture finds are! Seriously, go check him out.

Right, I did my usual thing of going through some games that i recognised instantly and throwing in some brief notes - generally based on the book and 'The Soviet school of Chess' for you to enjoy. If you don't enjoy them there is no help for you!!

Firstly a couple of games against his co-author.

M.Yudovich. Both of them! Jr. on the left. Sr. on the right. Griffin.

One that I recalled from 'The Soviet School of Chess'. If you can ever get your hands on a copy, it is fascinating.

O.K. Let's throw in a positional game, against an outstanding positional player. In the radio match the game is from, Kotov won 2-0, I think.

In the 1950 candidates, Keres won a magnificent game from Kotov in the first half - Kotov responded in kind! Watch the wonderful journey of the Knight on g1.

A quick picture from the Kotov book. It says 'Moscow Championship', I think, but not dated. Perhaps it is 1944 - certainly Smyslov, Lilienthal and Simagin took part, but I don't think Bronstein played!? No time to check, so help requested!

Another 1950 game. Harry Golombek on the receiving end.

A relevant photo from the event, with Smyslov, Kotov and Golombek.
Via Douglas Griffin.
Well, I managed to avoid giving yet another loss by Smyslov, but I have to include another loss by Averbakh!! What an you do? It is Kotov's most famous game, and one of the great games of chess history. Some of you won't know it - it was not won by a World Champion - but it's pretty special!

A really nice Griffin picture to go with the game.

Ivanovo. 1944.Back row 3rd from left Simagin, 6th. Averbakh. Front left Lillienthal and Kotov.

O.K. Lets finish with Kotov's best game from his finest tournament. The loser is a player I have posted on a couple of times, and one of my favourites. A really beautiful game. I like the concept of a sacrifice followed up with a quiet move. This one has a sacrifice followed by LOTS of quiet moves!! Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!!

A picture to finish with. 1956 Olympiad. Try to name the players! Have fun until next time. Look after yourselves guys, and feel free to join in the inevitable fun of the comments section. Take care.