15 December 2012

Annotated Game #75: Colle System goes awry

This game occurred in the first round of the next tournament after Annotated Game #71.  I always enjoy facing the Colle System as Black, as it never really seems to go anywhere against my preferred Slav-type setup, which was played in this game.  I've observed that the Colle seems to work best against Queen's Gambit Declined type defenses, in which Black shuts in his light-squared bishop.

Here, Black exchanges off the light-square bishop immediately and then focuses on development as White goes pawn-hunting on the queenside.  White's sense of danger was not operating and after his queen is nearly trapped, he is forced to give back material in order to save it.  Although the material balance was then roughly equal (3 pawns for a piece), Black definitely had the superior position.

In the remainder of the game, Black passes up several active options for improving his position and pressuring White, which unfortunately has been a common characteristic of my games.  If I get nothing else out of these annotation efforts, they have certainly driven home the importance of playing actively with both pieces and pawns.  In this game, White also missed some active possibilities, including the remarkable 20. f4!? and the counterintuitive 26. b4, which loses the b-pawn but gains a strong positional advantage for White's passed pawns.  In both cases, the strategic idea would have been to effectively mobilize White's pawn majority, where he had a favorable imbalance (to use Silman's term).

White eventually goes for a draw by repetition after striking a tactical blow against Black's kingside and winning a pawn there.  My opponent evidently did not trust his own position due to Black's possible threats.  At the time I was perfectly happy to acquiesce, not seeing how I could make real progress against White, who was also higher-rated.  The final result seems justified in this case, given the board situation.  Had Black been looking to win, it would have been better tried earlier, for example with 18...Ne4!?

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D04"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "58"] [EventDate "2006.??.??"] {D04: Colle System} 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 Bf5 {a good development for the bishop regardless. In the Colle System, this leads to an exchange of the light-squared bishops, which helps reduce White's attacking chances.} 4. Bd3 ( 4. c4 c6 {would transpose into the Slav.}) 4... Bxd3 5. Qxd3 e6 6. O-O Bd6 { an excellent square for the bishop, although this move involves a pawn sacrifice.} (6... c6 {would be the solid alternative.}) (6... c5 {is more amibitious, but safe enough.} 7. Qb5+ Qd7) 7. Qb5+ Nbd7 8. Qxb7 O-O {Black has reasonable compensation for the material, behind ahead in development and having threats against White's queen.} 9. c3 $146 {this blocks a key diagonal for White, complicating the queen's safety as well as his own further development. There are no positive aspcts to the move that I can see and it was probably played by rote as a standard move in the Colle System.} c5 $11 10. Qc6 {White seems to want to use his queen to take on Black's army alone.} Qb8 { protects the Bd6 and cuts off the b-file from the White queen's potential use.} 11. Nbd2 a5 12. a4 {this further cuts White off, ensuring that Black will at minimum regain the lost material.} (12. Qa4 $11) 12... c4 $19 {futher tightenting the noose around the queen. Now there is no alternative to forcibly clearing the pawns away, at the cost of a piece.} 13. Nxc4 (13. Qb5 { may have been White's original intention, but the b3 square is no longer available for retreat.} Qc7 {then wins, with the intention of following up with ...Rfb8.}) 13... dxc4 14. Qxc4 {while material is roughly theoretically equal (three pawns for the knight), Black's much more active pieces and open lines give him a solid advantage.} Ng4 {Black intends to force a trade of the knight and then get the Nd7 into the game via f6.} (14... Re8 {is the plan that the engines prefer. Black could use the ...e5 pawn break to further activate his pieces. For example} 15. h3 e5) 15. h3 Nh2 16. Nxh2 Bxh2+ 17. Kh1 Nf6 (17... Bd6 {the immediate bishop retreat may be simplest.}) 18. Qe2 $17 ( 18. g3 Bxg3 19. fxg3 Qxg3 {would be fine for Black, given White's shattered kingside and looming threats after ...Ne4.}) (18. b4 $15 {is Houdini's preference, keeping things solid on the kingside while trying to generate counterplay on the queenside with the extra pawns.}) 18... Bd6 (18... Ne4 $5 $17 {would be the active way to play. Now g3 would be unplayable for White, as Black would end up taking back with the knight and a 3-way fork.}) (18... Bc7 { is a better retreat, avoiding the threat of a pawn fork on e5.}) 19. e4 $15 e5 {this plays into White's strategy, allowing his pawns to gain strength.} (19... Bf4 {would contain the newly-activated dark-square bishop.}) 20. d5 {obvious but not best.} (20. f4 $5 {is the attacking move the engines find. The f4 pawn cannot be captured due to the pawn fork on e5 and Black has to work hard to avoid major problems.} exd4 (20... exf4 $2 21. e5 {and now the Black pawn is not threatening anything, unlike after taking on d4.}) 21. e5 $11 Re8 {saves a crucial tempo by pinning the e-pawn.} 22. Qd3 dxc3 23. exf6 (23. exd6) 23... cxb2 24. Bxb2 Qxb2 25. Qxd6 Qxf6) 20... h6 {seeking to limit the scope of the Bf1 by taking away g5.} 21. Qf3 {threatening to win a pawn with Bxh6, which would leave the g7 pawn overloaded.} Nd7 {a passive retreat to an undefended square, which allows White's subsequent tactic.} (21... Be7 {would instead protect the knight and keep it on a more active square.}) 22. Bxh6 {now White can play this anyway, stripping Black's king of protection.} gxh6 (22... f5 $5 {is the defense the engines find, which is not at all obvious. The point being that after} 23. exf5 gxh6 24. Qg4+ {is no longer is a double attack on the Nd7. Black also now controls the f6-square and the king can escape via f7 if needed. }) 23. Qg4+ $11 {Theme: Double Attack, notes Fritz.} Kh8 24. Qxd7 Ra7 25. Qf5 Rb7 {this move in reality makes Black more vulnerable to a push of the b-pawn, rather than threatening it.} (25... f6 $5 26. b4 axb4 27. cxb4 Qxb4 {and Black can hold.}) 26. Rab1 {the b4 push probably doesn't occur to White either, as it would give back a pawn.} (26. b4 axb4 27. cxb4 Rxb4 $16 {White would possess a major advantage in the form of the two passed pawns and Black's weak king position, along with a very active queen.} 28. Qf6+ Kh7 29. Rfc1) 26... Rg8 27. Qf6+ Kh7 28. Qf5+ {White essentially offers a draw with this move.} Kh8 {and Black is happy to take it.} (28... Rg6 {would be a little stronger (and completely equal, according to Houdini), but I understood that the invited repetition would lead to an immediate draw.}) 29. Qf6+ Kh7 1/2-1/2

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