Saturday, August 27, 2005

A Fascinating Colle Game

White to play.
The position above comes from the fascinating game Bartrina-Ghitescu, Olot 1974 (download PGN or play it over online). I came upon it in Amatzia Avni's wonderful little book "Creative Chess" (Pergamon 1991), which features many positions where the correct move or idea is highly original or even counter-intuitive. In trying to solve the puzzle, I was unable to get past Black's best defense, which Fritz confirms leads to a draw and which Avni fails to consider. But the solution to the puzzle remains White's only way to avoid getting a lost game and its originality is still quite striking. I tracked down the game to see how this position came about and I offer it here for your amusement. It is a great specimen of the Colle system.

[Event "Olot"]
[Site "Olot"]
[Date "1974.03.??"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Bartrina, Modesto"]
[Black "Ghitescu, Theodor"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A48"]
[Annotator "Goeller,Michael"]
[PlyCount "63"]
[EventDate "1974.??.??"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 c5 3. e3 g6 4. Nbd2 Bg7 5. Bd3 {The Colle System} O-O 6. O-O d6 7. Re1 b6 8. Qe2 Nc6 9. c3 Qc7 10. dxc5 $1 (10. e4 cxd4 11. Nxd4 Ne5 $11) 10... bxc5 11. e4 Ng4 {Battling for control of e5.} 12. Nc4 Rb8 13. h3 Nge5 14. Nfxe5 Nxe5 15. Nxe5 Bxe5 16. f4 {White wins the battle for e5.} ({ A different mode of attack would be} 16. Bh6 $5 Rd8 17. Bc4 $36) 16... Bg7 17. Be3 Bb7 18. Qf2 Bc6 19. Rad1 Qa5 20. Bb1 Rb7 21. e5 $1 dxe5 22. fxe5 Bxe5 23. Bh6 Qc7 $1 (23... Bg7 24. Bxg7 Kxg7 25. Re5 $36) 24. Bxf8 Bg3 25. Qd2 Bxe1 ( 25... Kxf8) 26. Qh6 Qe5 ({Or} 26... Bf2+ 27. Kxf2 $6 (27. Kf1 $1 Qe5 { returns us to the game line.}) 27... Rxb2+ $1 28. Rd2 Rxd2+ 29. Ke3 Qg3+ $1 30. Kxd2 Qxg2+ 31. Kc1 Qf1+ 32. Kb2 Qe2+ 33. Bc2 Qe5 {and only Black has winning chances in this strange position despite being down a piece.}) 27. Bg7 $3 { Though this move does not win against best play, it is stunning and actually White's only move to keep fromlosing!} (27. Rd8 $2 Bf2+ $1 28. Kxf2 Rxb2+ $40) 27... Bf2+ ({Also playable is the immediate} 27... f6) 28. Kf1 Bb5+ $2 ({ It appears that Black can draw by} 28... f6 $1 29. Bh8 ({or} 29. Bxg6 hxg6 30. Qh8+ Kf7 31. Qf8+ Ke6 32. Qc8+ Kf7 $8 33. Qf8+ $11) ({but not} 29. Rd8+ $2 Kf7 30. Rf8+ Ke6 $19) 29... Bb5+ 30. Kxf2 Qe2+ 31. Kg3 Qe5+ 32. Kf2 $11 (32. Qf4 $2 Qxf4+ 33. Kxf4 Kxh8 $17) (32. Kf3 $4 Bc6+ $40)) ({Not} 28... Qb8 $2 29. Be5 $18 ) ({nor} 28... Bxg2+ 29. Kxf2 $1 Rxb2+ 30. Kg1 $18) 29. Kxf2 $1 Qe2+ 30. Kg3 Qxd1 31. Bh8 $3 Qd6+ 32. Kf2 { and lak cannot prevent mate without surrendering his Queen.} 1-0

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