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Think Like a Grandmaster by Alexander Kotov - Diagram 1

I remember when I first read Kotov’s great book. I was in my early teens and the book was in descriptive notation (that dates me!). Today the book looks a little yellowed with age but I still pick it up with a certain reverence as one of the first “serious” chess books that I acquired.

I had recently decided that my tactical calculation skills remain pretty poor and that a look back at Kotov’s “bible” might help. So I sat down, read the introduction and then got to Diagram 1. I remembered all those years ago that one of the things that puzzled me was why White had resigned in the main game variation starting with 26.Bc3 so I thought I would try and get to the bottom of that. I went through all the lines in my head and noticed something better for Black than 28…h4 given in the game. As many modern (lazy?) players do these days I thought I would check my line on Fritz. In fact what I had found was indeed much better but in the course of my analysis I also looked at Kotov’s main line 26.Ng4 and…it didn’t work!

Kotov’s introduction to the diagram basically set the scene by saying that the master playing White realized that the diagram position requires a sacrifice, his task was to choose between the candidate moves 26.Bxh6, 26.Nxg6 and 26.Ng4 followed by 27.Nxh6+.

Kotov described that, after unsystematically looking at the above candidate moves, the master could not decide which was decisive and so decided to play a “safe” move, 26.Bc3, with almost no calculation at all and promptly lost. Thus the main point was the concept of examining variations in a systematic, disciplined manner. I know I don’t do that because………it’s hard! Keeping one's thoughts as disciplined as possible is the toughest aspect of the game I reckon.

Anyway, that’s not really the point of this story. Below is a game viewer which gives all the lines Kotov put in his book. Have a look at them and see what you think. You might want to take note of any variations you think are important.

Once you have completed your analysis you may want to have a look at what my machine (with a little contribution from me) found.  

Game viewer by ChessTempo