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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Billy Colias

      Colias was born on June 3, 1966 and died on November 5, 1993 at the age of 27. Colias learned to play chess around the age of 6 and by the time he was 12 years old he was already a strong player. Colias was a contemporary of the strong master Peter Bereolos, both being on the same grade school team in Munster, Indiana where they both lived though Colias was claimed by Illinois because Munster is not far from Chicago where he played regularly.
      As a middle school student Colias was an excellent wrestler, but when he reached high school he gave it up for chess. At the age of 15 Colias had determined that he was going to be a professional chess player.
      Unfortunately in early 1982 at the age of 16, Colias was diagnosed with cancer and in the late fall he had a tumor removed and over the next three years he underwent three surgeries. The surgeries and the associated chemotherapies sapped his strength, but eventually he was pronounced "cured." Then something odd happened...Colias announced that he was going to enjoy life because he wouldn't live past 27. His pronouncement turned out to be prophetic.
      Although everyone who came into contact with Colias loved him, he never let anyone get close to him and he poured all his energy into chess. Around 1983 he won a $2,500 scholarship from the Chicago Sun Times for playing against a computer, but he never used it, choosing to concentrate on his chess instead. And, it paid off because between 1984 and 1986 his rating reached over 2400.
      As a result, he received an invitation to the US Junior Closed Championship at the Manhattan Chess Club and by way of preparation, GM Roman Dzindichasvili spent two weeks at Colias' home in Munster, Indiana. At the tournament, something strange happened. In many of his games he had drawing or winning games, but then he would start seeing threats that weren't there. For example, future GM Maxin Dlugy offered him a draw three times, but they were refused. When the game was adjourned, Colias and Dzindichasvili analyzed the position and agreed on the best move. Upon resumption, Colias played a different move and lost. The reason? He thought he saw something they had missed in their analysis...but it wasn't there.
      In 1987 Colias landed a job teaching chess to kids in an elementary school down in North Carolina, but the pay turned out to be too low so he quit and moved back home where he began giving lessons and playing in many Midwest tournaments. During that time he was also working with Master Eric Schiller in Chicago, taking advantage of Schiller's huge chess library and sometimes annotating games for Schiller's books. In 1990 he and Schiller moved to New Tork City to work at the World Championship and together in 1993 they published a book, How to Play Black Against the Staunton Gambit. In New York Colias got a job managing the Manhattan Chess Club. He was so enthusiastic about the job that he often didn't take his days off unless ordered to do so by his boss.
Then he died. According to one of his friends, he had a cold and took a few drinks then took four Tylenol and his liver and kidneys, probably already weakened from his earlier chemotherapies, just shut down.
      According to WebMD, Acetaminophen and alcohol are a dangerous combination anyway. One study showed that nearly half of the subjects who drank while taking it reported kidney disease. In fact, combining acetaminophen with even light amounts of alcohol can more than double the risk of kidney disease. Even taking the recommended dose of acetaminophen, combined with a small to moderate amount of alcohol, produces a 123 percent increased risk of kidney disease.
      Dr. Martin Zand, medical director of the kidney and pancreas transplant programs at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York has warned chronic acetaminophen use and chronic alcohol abuse both have been separately linked to kidney and liver disease.
Speaking of Tylenol, can you take a medication if it has reached the drug expiration date?
     The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide cites a U.S. Food and Drug Administration study that 90 per cent of more than 100 drugs, prescription and over-the-counter, “were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.” The FDA study found the average extra shelf life of the drugs tested was five years. The U.S. military saved itself $260 million in five years by not discarding expired drugs, the study said. Of course we can believe everything the FDA says, right? And the US military wouldn't endanger its troops just to save money, right? What about the drug companies? It's been said they put short expiration dates on drugs in order to make people dump them and buy fresh ones sooner than is necessary. So, they're not motivated by the desire to help people and all they care about is making money...what a cruel charge!

So, we've talked about Colias and after digressing to talk about over the counter drugs, let's turn to the game and discuss the opening, the Sicilian Scheveningen

1) White has a space advantage and will normally play f4 which gives him control of 4 ranks vs. black's three, the fifth rank being under dispute. As a result, white has more room to operate.
2) Development: Black has been making a lot of Pawn moves while white has been developing. This means the whole line would be considered inferior for black by the players prior to WW2.
3) White intends to operate on the K-side 

It looks like white has all the freedom he needs to undertake immediate action. Usually this involves one of several plans.
1) The straightforward and dangerous Pe5which opens the f-file, diagonals for his Bs and it makes e4 available for his N. This idea is seen in the Richter-Rauzer, Fischer-Sozin, and even the Classical variation (Be2 and Bd3).
2) He can play f4-f5 pressuring the e6-Pawn and if ...e5, white gets the d5 square.
3) There exists for white the possibility of a wide variety of sacrifices: b5, e6, d5, f5...all critical squares.
4) White can launch an attack by advancing his g-Pawn which drives away the f6N. White can then often play f4-f5-f6, bring up the heavy pieces after he pries open the h-file and mate black.

For his part, black counterattacks, either in the center or on the Q-side, often making a sacrifice of his own in order to eliminate attacking pieces or to open up lines for his own pieces and develop the initiative.

This game was an odd one, the attack and counterattack were not typical of the Sicilian.

1 comment:

  1. In Charlotte, Bill wasn't a "teacher at an Elementary School". He was the Head Instructor for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Scholastic Chess Association. He was actually pretty well paid, but his aspirations for his playing career could not be met in Charlotte NC. Big tournaments are too infrequent and generally too far away from the area.