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   My System   


  The  "Kotov System"  ...  and its drawbacks  

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Let me tell you a story. A few years ago, I used to have a job {actually more than one!} in the computer field, and I used to travel a great deal. I was visiting a relatively small town, (Michigan? Minnesota?); in the autumn one year, this roughly took place back in the  {late?} 1980's. 

During the day I was installing a computer system for a small company, (and training the employee's on how to use it); and at night I played chess. The locals had a tremendous chess club, they even owned their own small building! (Apparently - one of the former members had passed away and left the chess club a building ... and even a small trust fund to maintain it.) There was someone there almost every night of the week. (And I could always call somebody, and someone would definitely show up.) They got a kick out of my being there, the strongest player there, (in the town); was only a "Class C" player. (They had a few stronger players that visited on a fairly regular basis, but they were from neighboring towns and cities. I also defeated these players very easily.)  They were a very friendly and sociable group, they treated me like some sort of special {chess} dignitary ... or something. 

They asked me to prepare a lecture one Saturday. At first I said no, I don't think I was even officially a Master yet, my rating was in the high 2100's. But they were adamant - and very, very, very  insistent; and so I finally gave in. 

I racked my brains  on what I could lecture about. I decided on Alexander Kotov's classic work,  "Think Like A GM."  (I did not have my copy with me, but a member of the club was kind enough to lend me his.)

I worked several days on my presentation, Saturday came and I drove to the meeting spot for my big lecture. I started in, and I talked for close to 45 minutes, before I turned around and I saw everyone was staring at me. No one was getting the material! I spent several more minutes trying to explain the process of finding  ...  "candidate moves."  But they still were not grasping the material. Finally one brave soul raised his hand, and he asked the VERY profound question:  << "We get the general idea, and we all have had a look at that book. Most of us do NOT get it, I think the subject matter there is way over our heads. And I don't think a player like you understands why, either." 

He went on:  "Besides, I want you to explain to us  ...  what is the  basic criteria  for  FINDING  candidate moves?   What  SYSTEM  ...  do you use  ...  to help you find these great moves?" >> 

I was stunned, I told them that I honestly had no real answer.  I said something like: "I see you guys aren't getting this stuff. I suggest we take a look at one or two of my recent tournament games, I can explain to you exactly what I was thinking ... and how I arrived at my various conclusions. A few of the games, I have subjected to a fairly deep analysis, I think I can explain pretty much everything that went on."  They said yes, and I wound up showing them like four or five of my games on the demonstration board. They ate it up ... like 98 going west. It lasted for many hours!  

So my big lecture turned out to be a great success, but I also had stumbled across an important idea. 

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This day was a crucial  TURNING POINT  for me ... in several different areas and categories. 

  1. I discovered that I actually enjoyed being in front of a group of people, especially if I cared - passionately - about the material that I was trying to present. (As a child, one psychologist said I was ... "emotionally retarded." When I was about 8 or nine years old, I was terrified to stand before the class, and I could only stand there and stutter.) 

  2. I discovered that I enjoyed telling a few of my chess stories, people actually laughed when I told a joke!!! 

  3. I discovered I had a real talent for teaching, many people emphasized this fact at the end of the lecture. 

  4. I discovered that MOST lower-rated players do NOT readily grasp Kotov's method.  Since then, I usually have found that a player should be at least "Class A" before even trying to tackle this book!! 

  5. I decided I needed to isolate the basic ideas or  PRINCIPLES  ...  for each phase of the game!!  
    (I already had the principles down for the opening, but had never given much thought to the idea that I should try and discover the basic principles for the middlegame and the ending.) 

  6. Several of the players said something like: "You seem to have a mental checklist. Why not come up with a short checklist ... that the rest of us could use?"  (The idea of a check-list for chess was not new to me, I had worked on one MANY years previously. But eventually I had given the idea up - as being unworkable and not all that practical. However, my experience that day ... made me resolve to develop a workable checklist ... AND NOT QUIT ... until I had something that the average player could use.) I decided (then) that I needed to develop ... A (workable) CHESS CHECKLIST!  


See  page one  ...  of my  Opening School  ... ... ...   
FOR THE FOUR (4) BASIC ELEMENTS OF THE GAME!!!   


 (Stay tuned for more on this topic!) 


Click  HERE  to return to my "opening school," page one.

Click  HERE  to return to my home page, (for this particular web-site.) 

Click  HERE  to go - or return - to my ...  Training Page.  

Click  HERE  to go to the next page in this series of articles.   

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  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I  

  Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, 1995 - 2009.  
  Copyright A.J. Goldsby, 2010.  All rights reserved.  

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This page was created in May, 2004. (But I did almost nothing with it for the longest time!)    

This page was first posted on the Internet:  Wednesday; July 28th, 2004.  This page was last updated on 07/14/12 . 


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