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


1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. a3!? e6

Inviting the gambit that follows. As I showed in my previous piece on "The Grand Prix with a3," if 5... d6 then 6. Bc4 and the a-pawn's advance has created a good retreat square for the Bishop.

 

6. b4!? b6!

This may well be the best defense, refusing to surrender an inch in the center or to weaken the dark squares.

Accepting White's pseudo-gambit is bad: 6... cxb4?! 7. axb4 Nxb4? (7... Nge7 8. b5 Nd4 9. e5 Nxf3+ 10. Qxf3) 8. Ba3 Nc6 9. Nb5

 

7. bxc5?!

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 O-O 11. Nf6+! Kh8 (11... Bxf6?? 12. exf6 wins a piece.) 12. Bb2 Bb7 13. O-O (with Black's Bishop on b7, White can exchange with 13. bxc5 bxc5 14. O-O Nd5 when 15. Ne4! gains a tempo with the attack on c5.) 13... Nd5 14. Bxc6 Bxc6 15. Ng5?! (Indicated is 15. Qe1! Nxf6 (what else?) 16. exf6 Bh6 (16... Bxf6? 17. Bxf6+ Qxf6 18. Ne5) 17. Qh4! Bxd2 18. Ne5 Be3+ 19. Kh1 and White appears to have a tremendous attack: 19... Bb7 ( Black's only chance is to give up a piece to expose White's king with 19... Bxg2+ 20. Kxg2 Qd2+ 21. Kh1 Qxc2 22. Rae1! Bd2 23. Bc1! though White still wins.) 20. Rad1 Qe8 21. Nxg6+ fxg6 22. f7+ Bd4 23. Qf6+!! Bxf6 24. Bxf6#) 15... Nxf6 16. exf6 Bh6 17. Qg4 Qxd2 18. Bc1 Qc3 19. Nxf7+ Rxf7 20. Bxh6 Rxf6 21. Rxf6 Qxf6 (21... Qxa1+ 22. Rf1 Qd4+ 23. Qxd4+ cxd4 24. Rf7=) 22. Rf1 1/2-1/2 Fischer,M - Danschczyk,C/Bayern 1998 (22)

 

7... bxc5 8. e5 d6 9. Bb5 Nge7 10. Bb2

10. Ne4!? dxe5 11. fxe5 O-O 12. Nf6+ Kh8 13. Bb2 is not as good as the game cited above due to 13... Rb8! and the skewer of the Bishops forces White to lose time and the Bishop pair.

 

10... O-O 11. Ne4 dxe5 12. Bxc6 Nxc6 13. fxe5 Rb8! 14. Bc3 Qd5

Black suddenly has surged ahead in development and White is under pressure.

 

15. Nf6+! Bxf6 16. exf6

This pawn at f6 could be dangerous for Black.

 

16... e5!

As Greg DeFotys notes: "Activating the queen bishop, locking out the White bishop, strangling d4, and 'isolating' the f6 pawn."

 

17. d3 Nd4 18. O-O Bg4 19. Qd2?

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.

 

19... Bxf3 20. Bxd4?

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!

 

20... Qxd4+ 21. Kh1 Bxg2+

Or 21... e4 22. Qh6 Qxf6 23. dxe4 Bxg2+ 24. Kxg2 Qc3

 

22. Kxg2 Rb6 23. Rae1

23. Qh6 Rxf6!

 

23... Qg4+ 24. Kh1 Qh4 25. Re4 Qh5 26. Qf2 Rfb8 27. Qxc5 Rxf6 28. Ree1?

28. Rxf6 Rb1+ 29. Kg2 Qg5+ 30. Kh3 Qxf6 31. Qxe5 and White "has excelent chances of holding despite the exposure of his king" notes DeFotis.

 

28... Rxf1+ 29. Rxf1 Qe2 30. Kg1 Qg4+ 31. Kh1 Qe2 32. Kg1 Qg4+ 33. Kh1 Qd4 34. Qc6 Rd8 35. Rb1 Qd5+! 36. Qxd5 Rxd5 37. Rb4 a5 38. Rc4 Rd4 39. Rc5 e4 40. dxe4 Ra4 41. Kg2 Rxa3 42. c3

42. c4 Rc3 43. Rxa5 Rxc4 "is an uncomplicated technical win for Black" notes DeFotis, but it was the better try.

 

42... a4 43. Kf3 Ra2 44. h4 Rh2 45. Kg3 Rc2 46. h5? gxh5!

Creating a second passed pawn for Black.

 

47. Kh4 a3 48. e5 Rc1 49. Ra5 Ra1!

49... Rxc3 , of course, also wins, but Black has a clearer winning plan this way.

 

50. Kg3 Kf8 51. Ra7 a2 52. Kg2 Ke8 53. c4 Kd8 54. c5 Kc8 55. c6 Kb8 56. c7+ Kc8 57. Kh2 h4! 58. Kg2 h3+! 59. Kh2

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.

 

59... h6 60. Ra5 Kxc7 61. Ra6 Kb7 62. Ra3 Kc6 63. Ra5 Kd7 64. Ra6 Ke7 65. Ra5 Ke6 66. Ra6+ Kxe5 67. Ra5+ Kd4 68. Ra8 f5 69. Ra4+ Kc5 70. Ra5+ Kb6 71. Ra3

and resigns.

1-0

Game Two: The Tal Gambit

Billy Colias - Mark Brodie [B21]

As You Like It Open/USA (1) 1987


1. e4 c5 2. f4

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.

 

2... d5!

The strongest reply, as Colias himself often showed.

 

3. Nc3

The so-called "Toilet Variation," but possibly the best move in the position.

 

a) Accepting the so-called Tal Gambit is not so good: 3. exd5 Nf6 4. Bb5+

(4. c4 e6 5. dxe6 Bxe6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Nc3 Be7 8. d3 O-O 9. Be2 Bf5 10. Be3 Re8 11. O-O Bf8 (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))

4... Bd7 5. Bxd7+ Qxd7 6. c4 e6 7. Qe2 Be7 8. dxe6 Qxe6 9. Qxe6 fxe6 10. Nf3 Nc6 11. a3?!

(Black also has sufficient resources after 11. Ke2 O-O-O 12. 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.)

12... Nxc4 13. d4 O-O-O 14. dxc5 Bxc5 15. b3 Ne3! 16. Bxe3 Bxe3 17. Ne2 Ne4!

White's King is in a precarious position in the center of the board despite the reduced forces.

 

18. Rf1 Nc5 19. Nc1 Bxf4 20. g3 Bh6

Black has won a pawn without relinquishing his grip on the position.

 

21. Ne5?!










( Missing the following fork trick by Black. Necessary, if still losing, was 21. b4 Ne4 22. Ra2 Bxc1 23. Rc2+ Kb8 24. Rxc1 Rd3)

21... Bd2+ 22. Ke2 Bc3 White can regain some material by 23.Ra2 Bxe5 30.Rc2 but he is still lost. 0-1 Smit,T-Colias,B (22)

 

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. O-O Be7 10. a3 b5 11. Ba2 Bb7 12. Bb1 g6 (12... Ncd4!) 13. Ne4 Ncd4 0-1 Vlastnik,R-Colias,B (36)

 

3... dxe4 4. Nxe4 e6 5. Nf3 Nc6

5... Nf6 6. Bb5+ Bd7 7. Qe2 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Bd3!? (9. Bxd7 Qxd7 10. d3 Nc6 11. Be3 Nd4) 9... Nc6 10. c3 Qc7 (10... Nd5!) 11. Bc2 Rad8= 1/2-1/2 Stein-Colias,B (29)

 

6. g3 Nf6 7. Nf2 Be7 8. Bg2 O-O 9. b3 Qc7 10. Bb2 b6

White's double-fianchetto may be the best plan in the position. But Black still has few real problems.

 

11. O-O Bb7 12. Qe2 Rad8 13. Rae1 Rfe8

13... Nd4! 14. Nxd4 Bxg2 15. Kxg2 cxd4 16. f5! Qxc2 17. Nd3 Qc6+ 18. Kg1 Rfe8 19. fxe6

 

14. f5! exf5 15. Bxf6 gxf6 16. Nh4 Nd4! 17. Qh5?!

17. Qd1!

 

17... Bxg2 18. Kxg2 Qc6+ 19. Kh3?!

19. Kg1 f4 20. Ng4 Bf8 21. c3 Ne2+ 22. Rxe2 Rxe2 23. Nxf6+ Qxf6 24. Qxe2

 

19... Ne6 20. Qxf5??

As Schiller notes, this is a miscalculation that should have lost.

White might survive by 20. Nxf5 Ng5+ 21. Kh4 Qg2 22. Qg4 Qxh2+ 23. Nh3 Bf8 24. Rh1 Qxd2 25. Nxg5 Qxg5+ 26. Qxg5+ fxg5+ 27. Kxg5

 

20... Rd5?!

Black's simplest win is 20... Ng5+! 21. Kg4 Rd4+ 22. Ne4 Nxe4

 

21. Rxe6! Qxe6 22. Qg4+ Qxg4+ 23. Nxg4 Rxd2

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.

 

24. Rf5!?

24. Nxf6+ Bxf6 25. Rxf6 Rxc2

 

24... Rxc2 25. Rh5 Rxa2 26. Nf5 a5 27. Rh4 Re2??










27... Kh8! 28. Ngh6 Bf8 29. Nxf7+ Kg8 30. N5h6+ Bxh6 31. Nxh6+ Kf8

 

28. Ngh6+ Kf8

28... Kh8 29. Rg4 Rf8 30. Rg8+ Rxg8 31. Nxf7#

 

29. Rg4

mate by Rg8 cannot be stopped.

1-0

Game Three: Main Lines

Billy Colias - Stuart Conquest [B23]

England 1985


1. e4 c5 2. Nc3

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. O-O Nf6 8. Qe1 O-O 9. h3!? Ba6 (9... Ne8) 10. Nc3 (10. Nbd2) 10... Nd7 (10... c4 11. d4) 11. Rb1 Rb8 12. b3! e6 13. Ba3 Qa5 14. Bb2 Rfe8 15. Na4! Stopping Black from liquidating the doubled pawn and exchanging into a highly favorable ending.(15. Kh1? c4! 16. dxc4 Bxc4 17. bxc4 Rxb2 18. Rxb2 Bxc3) 15... Qxe1 16. Rfxe1 Bxb2 17. Nxb2 Kg7 18. g4 f6 19. Kg2 Kf7 20. e5 d5 (20... fxe5 21. fxe5 d5 22. Ng5+) 21. exf6 Kxf6 22. Ne5 Nxe5 23. fxe5+ Ke7 24. Rf1 Rf8 25. Rxf8 Kxf8 26. c4 Ke7 27. Rc1 Rd8 28. Rd1 g5 29. Kf3 Rf8+ 30. Ke3 Rh8 31. Na4 h5 32. Nxc5 Bc8 33. Rg1 hxg4 34. hxg4 Rh2 35. a4 a5 36. Rb1 Bd7 37. b4 axb4 38. Rxb4 Be8 39. Rb7+ Kd8 40. a5 dxc4 41. dxc4 Ra2 42. a6 Kc8 43. a7 Ra3+ 44. Kd4 1-0 Colias,B-Wheeler,J (44)

 

2... Nc6 3. f4 g6

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. O-O b5 9. Kh1 g6 10. Qe1 Bg7 11. Qh4 Qd7 12. Ne2 (12. Bd2) 12... O-O-O?! 13. Rb1 Nxe4? A crazy piece sacrifice.(Black must have feared something like 13... Qg4 14. Qe1! Nd7 15. b4 and White quickly develops a strong attack.) 14. dxe4 Bxe4 15. Ne1 Qf5 16. Ng3 1-0 Colias,B-Martin,D (32)) 5. Bb5 Bd7 6. a4!? Perhaps played to discourage both queenside expansion and queenside castling for Black. 6... Rc8 7. d3 g6 8. O-O Bg7 9. Bxc6 (9. e5!? dxe5 10. Ne4) 9... Bxc6 10. f5!? Nf6 11. fxe6 fxe6 12. Qe1 O-O 13. Bg5 Qd7 14. Qh4 h5 15. Ne2 (15. Ne5! dxe5 16. Bxf6 Qd4+ 17. Kh1 Rxf6 18. Rxf6 Qd8 19. Raf1 Bxf6 20. Qxf6 Qxf6 21. Rxf6 Rf8 22. Rxf8+ Kxf8 23. h4) 15... e5?










(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)

 

4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bb5 Nd4!

Avoiding the doubled pawns.

 

6. O-O

Emphasizing development. Retreating the Bishop is also often played, but most authorities now recommend 6.O-O.

 

6... Nxb5 7. Nxb5 d5!

7... d6 8. c4!

 

8. exd5

White can also try for an advantage by 8. e5 a6 (8... d4 9. c3) 9. Nc3 Bg4 10. d4

 

8... Nf6!?

8... a6 9. Nc3 Nf6 10. d4 Nxd5 (10... c4! 11. Ne5 Nxd5 12. Qf3 e6 13. f5 gxf5 14. Nxd5 Qxd5 15. Qxd5 exd5 16. Bf4 Hodgson) 11. dxc5!? Nxc3 12. Qxd8+ Kxd8 13. bxc3 Bxc3 14. Rb1 Hodgson

 

9. d6?!

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.

 

9... O-O 10. dxe7 Qxe7 11. Nc3

11. d3 Nd5

 

11... c4!? 12. d4 cxd3 13. cxd3 Rd8 14. Ne5 b5!? 15. Qe2

15. Nxb5?? Qc5+

 

15... Bb7 16. Bd2 b4 17. Ng4?!

17. Nd1 Nd5

 

17... Qxe2 18. Nxf6+ Bxf6 19. Nxe2 a5!

Black stops counterplay. A pawn will fall in any case.

 

20. d4 Ba6 21. Rfe1 Bxe2 22. Rxe2 Bxd4+ 23. Be3 Bxe3+ 24. Rxe3 Rd2!

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.

 

25. Kf1 Rc8! 26. a3 Rcc2 27. axb4 Rf2+ 28. Ke1 Rxg2 29. Kf1 Rcf2+ 30. Ke1 Rxb2 31. Kf1 Rxh2 0-1

Games in PGN

Copyright 2006 by Michael Goeller