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Friday, August 14, 2015

Colle's Amazing Move

Edgar Colle
     I recently played over this fairly well known game, it having appeared in several books in the discussion of Pawn majorities. This game has been used as a good example of crippled majorities, which is what Colle's surprising 17th move accomplished and I became intrigued by Colle's play. 
     Most of the analysis I have seen appears in older, pre-engine books and, as frequently happens, the annotations were based on results; every move the winner played was good while every move the loser played was bad. Games aren't usually that lopsided because the players, often the loser like Spielmann here, were pretty strong players. At the same time, the winners rarely saw everything and so didn't always choose the best move. 
     I spent a couple of hours analyzing this game with the help of Komodo 8 and Stockfish 6 and it was not as one sided as all the annotators have suggested. Of course, they didn't have the super-strong engines available nor were they likely to have spent hours analyzing every position in every game they present in their books. 
     Also, GM Alex Yermolinsky has pointed out that, for example, when Alekhine was searching for sponsors for a world championship match with Capa he wrote a book of his best games and annotated them in such a way that it would prove he was a genius. Nimzovich had the same goal when he wrote My System, but he wasn't so successful in accomplishing that goal. It doesn't matter why they did it though; we have timeless classics as a result. 
     Yermolinsky also warns us that many books written since WW2 repeat previous books, listing all the positional elements and presenting carefully selected games that show one guy delivering a severe beating to another guy and sometimes fudging the analysis to make the point. After you have absorbed all the positional and tactical 'theory' from books, Yermolinsky's recommendation for moving to the next level is pick some good books, books with all the games from great tournaments and books by great players and just watch them play.  And, even if you aren't all that interested in improvement, playing over the games can be a source of enjoyment.
     That's the best way to enjoy this game. Just watch Colle play and see how he uses an idea, in this case a crippled P-majority, to hinder Spielmann's counterplay, a N-outpost and a P-advance to weaken his opponent's position until Spielmann finally cracks under the relentless pressure. It's a good practical lesson.

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