The Top Chess Players in the World

GM Alexander Kotov

Alexander Kotov
Kotov in 1967. Photo: Dutch National Archives, CC.
Full name
Alexander Kotov
Aug 12, 1913 - Jan 8, 1981 (age 67)‎
Place of birth
Tula, Russia


GM Alexander Kotov was a Soviet grandmaster who is perhaps best known for his classic book, Think Like a Grandmaster. He was a very strong GM as well, who shared first place with GM David Bronstein in the 1948 Soviet Championship.

Kotov was also a candidate for the world championship in the 1951 and 1954 cycles. In the 1952 Interzonal for the 1954 championship, Kotov scored 16.5/20 for one of the best tournament results of his career. Although he managed just 14/28 in the ensuing 1953 Candidates, he won two notable victories in Zurich: He was the only player to defeat tournament winner GM Vasily Smyslov, and he scored the most acclaimed victory of his career with a queen sacrifice against GM Yuri Averbakh.

Kotov’s Think Like a Grandmaster was published in 1970 and translated into English the following year. He wrote several other books as well, including two successors to Think Like a Grandmaster: Play Like a Grandmaster and Train Like a Grandmaster. However, his first book in the series remains by far the most popular.

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