Billy Colias Plays the Grand Prix
by Michael Goeller
The following games with the Grand Prix Attack against the Sicilian Defense (1.e4 c5 f4 or 1.e4 c5 Nc3 followed by f4) were played by the late Billy Colias, who was a strong master (ELO 2400 peak) before his untimely death at age 26 from an accidental combination of alcohol and Tylenol (particularly deadly for him due to cancer treatments he received some years before). You can learn more about him from Billy Colias, Midwest Master by M. L. Rantala, Eric Schiller, and Alan Watson (Chess Enterprises 1996), with annotations by various players. Some of the notes below refer to that book, though not all of these games can be found there. Though not all of these games show Billy at his best, they do all show his fighting spirit on both sides of the Grand Prix Sicilian and therefore make for a good introduction to this system. I hope these games also help us to remember what chess has lost in Billy's passing.
Game One: The Grand Prix with a3
Eugene Martinovsky - Billy Colias [B23]
Chicago Open/Chicago (5) 1992
This may well be the best defense, refusing to surrender an inch in the center or to weaken the dark squares.
This exchange has the disadvantage of opening the b-file for Black.
White had better results with 7. e5 d6 8. Bb5 Nge7 9. Ne4! dxe5 10. fxe5
Black suddenly has surged ahead in development and White is under pressure.
This pawn at f6 could be dangerous for Black.
As Greg DeFotys notes: "Activating the queen bishop, locking out the White bishop, strangling d4, and 'isolating' the f6 pawn."
White had to play 19. Bxd4 Bxf3 20. Rxf3 Qxd4+ 21. Kh1 though he comes under pressure after 21... Rb2! 22. Rc1 (22. Qd2? Rxc2!!) 22... Qc3 -- but that niggling pawn at f3 might still be a problem for Black.
Fritz finds a near-save for White in 20. Qh6!? Nf5 21. Qc1! c4 (21... Be2? 22. Rxf5!) (21... Bxg2?! 22. Rxf5 Bh1 23. Qg5) (21... Rb6 22. Rxf3 Rxf6 23. Qg5 Qd6 24. Raf1) (21... Nd4 22. Qh6=) 22. Rxf3 cxd3 23. Rxf5! d2!! 24. Bxd2 gxf5 25. Bh6 f4! 26. Bxf8 Rxf8 and Black has the better of the major piece ending, but it sure takes some exact play just to get here!
Creating a second passed pawn for Black.
49... Rxc3 , of course, also wins, but Black has a clearer winning plan this way.
Now White is in Zugzwang and Black has lots of moves at his disposal with the second h-pawn or even the King to d7. This zugzwang motif allows Black to pick up the rest of White's pawns, after which there is no hope.
Game Two: The Tal Gambit
Billy Colias - Mark Brodie [B21]
As You Like It Open/USA (1) 1987
Schiller suggests that Colias had adopted the Grand Prix Attack under the influence of GM Roman Dzindzichashvili.
He would usually play 2. Nc3 to avoid Black's next move.
The strongest reply, as Colias himself often showed.
The so-called "Toilet Variation," but possibly the best move in the position.
(4. c4 e6 5. dxe6 Bxe6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Nc3 Be7 8. d3
O-O9. Be2 Bf5 10. Be3 Re8 11. O-OBf8 (11... Ng4 12. Bc1 Bf6) 12. Bf2 Ng4 13. Ng5 Nxf2 14. Rxf2 Nd4 15. Bg4 Qd7 16. Bxf5 Nxf5?! 17. Nd5?! (17. Qh5! h6 18. Nge4) 17... Ne3 18. Qh5 h6 19. Ne4 Nxd5 20. cxd5 c4! 21. Qf3 cxd3 22. Qxd3 Qf5 23. Re2 Red8 24. Rd1 Rd7 25. Qg3 Rad8 26. Nc3 Bc5+ 27. Kh1 Bb4 28. Qf3 Bxc3 29. bxc3 (29. g4!) 29... Rxd5 30. Rxd5??
30... Qb1+! 0-1 Kittilsen,G-Colias,B (30))
(Black also has sufficient resources after 11. Ke2
O-O-O12. d3 Nb4 13. Nc3! Nxd3 14. Ng5 Rhe8 15. Nxe6 Bf8 16. f5 g6) 11... Na5! Immediately exploiting the weakened b3 square. 12. Nc3 (12. d3?? Nb3 wins a piece.)
White's King is in a precarious position in the center of the board despite the reduced forces.
Black has won a pawn without relinquishing his grip on the position.
b) Non-masters often play the inferior 3. e5?! e6!? (3... Nc6 keeping
open the option of Bf5 or Bg4 seems better. But White still has a bad version
of the Advanced French.)
4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bb5 Nge7 6. c4 dxc4 7. Bxc4 a6 8. Nc3 Nf5 9.
White's double-fianchetto may be the best plan in the position. But Black still has few real problems.
As Schiller notes, this is a miscalculation that should have lost.
As schiler writes, "There is no compensation for the Exchange. All Billy can hope for is a miracle, perhaps some sort of self-mate." And that's what he gets, perhaps aided by his opponent's time pressure.
mate by Rg8 cannot be stopped.1-0
Game Three: Main Lines
Billy Colias - Stuart Conquest [B23]
Another Colias game offers a good illustration of White's strategy after inflicting doubled pawns on his opponent by Bb5 and Bxc6: 2. f4 Nc6 3. Nf3 g6 4. Bb5 Bg7 5. Bxc6 bxc6 6. d3 d6 7.
Colias had good success against opponents who vacilated in the center: 3... d6 4. Nf3 e6 (4... Nf6 5. Bb5 Bd7 6. d3 a6 7. Bxc6 Bxc6 8.
(15... 15... Nh7! 16. Nf4 Qf7) 16. Nxe5! dxe5 17. Bxf6 Bxf6 18. Rxf6 Rxf6 19. Qxf6 Qe8 20. b3 Black is simply down a pawn with a losing position due to his weakenedkingside. 20... Bd7 21. Rf1 Rc6 22. Qg5 Kg7 23. Nc3 Re6 24. Nd5 Qh8 25. Rf6! Qh6?? Diagram # 26. Rf7+ 1-0 Colias,B-Stapay,T (26)
Avoiding the doubled pawns.
Emphasizing development. Retreating the Bishop is also often played, but most authorities now recommend 6.O-O.
This seems to help Black to open lines.
The natural move is 9. c4 when it is not clear what Black planned by way of compensation since White has an easy time following with d4. That is why Black typically first plays 8...a6.
Black stops counterplay. A pawn will fall in any case.
The superiority of Black's Rook on the seventh combined with his cramping pawns on the queenside is sufficient to win. There is also no way to prevent the Rooks from doubling on the seventh.
Games in PGNCopyright 2006 by Michael Goeller