01 June 2024

Annotated Game #281: First blood for the Colle-Zukertort

In this final round tournament game, which I needed to win to get back to an even score, I win for the first time playing the Colle-Zukertort. The opening is quite balanced, but easy to play for White, and the game's turning point is the thematic 19. e5! which released the pent-up energy of White's pieces in the center and targeting Black's king. The battle is on after that, with some see-saw evaluations during time pressure, but I was at least never worse than even. The attack is eventually converted into a winning king and pawn endgame, which is a good reminder that mating or gaining material is not necessarily the ultimate point of even a dangerous attack on your opponent's king.

In the past few tournaments since my latest chess career reboot, I've followed a similar pattern: lose as Black, dig myself into a hole, then claw my way out as White, including a final-round victory. I'll need to break that pattern to be successful in tournaments, although at least there has been an upward trajectory in each case, with a bit of redemption (if not positive results) at the end.


[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class A"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E14"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Dragon 3.2"] [PlyCount "119"] [GameId "489173303299"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. e3 b6 3. Nf3 Bb7 4. Bd3 e6 5. O-O Be7 6. b3 {heading for the Colle-Zukertort.} O-O 7. Bb2 d6 {taking control of e5.} 8. Nbd2 Nbd7 9. Qe2 c5 10. c4 {I had a long think here, then made the correct reaction per my repertoire. The point is to fight for the d5 square.} Qc7 11. Rac1 {activating the rook and placing it opposite the queen.} Rac8 12. Rfe1 {looking at preparing for e4, although it's not necessary to wait, while placing the rook on what should eventually be a more active file.} Rfe8 13. h3 {prudently creating luft while also taking away the g4 square from Black's knight.} Qb8 {removing the queen as a target on the c-file.} 14. a3 {this is part waiting move, part preparing a potential b3-b4 advance, part taking away future use of the b4 square from the Black bishop.} a5 {the first inaccuracy from my opponent. This does restrain the b-pawn advance, but leaves behind a weak b5 square and a backwards b6 pawn.} 15. e4 $14 {another long think, correct decision. White needs to start mobilizing the pawn center.} cxd4 16. Nxd4 {now the b5 square is looking good for the knight.} Nc5 17. Bc2 {done to overprotect b3, while also preventing the exchange of the strong bishop.} h6 18. Nb5 {occupying the outpost square.} Ba6 $2 {the idea to exchange off the advanced knight is good, but this is the wrong square from which to do it.} (18... Bc6 19. Nd4 Bb7 $14) 19. e5 $1 $18 {releasing the energy of White's pieces, namely the two bishops and the Nd2. This is a typical motif in the Colle-Zukertort, where a central pawn advance suddenly and surprisingly changes the game to White's advantage.} Nh7 (19... dxe5 20. Bxe5 Qb7 21. Bxf6 {positionally this looks bad, but the Be7 is overloaded, defending both the Nf6 and the d6 square.} Bxf6 (21... gxf6 {prevents the knight fork on d6, but White then gets a kingside attack.} 22. Qg4+ Kh8 23. Qf4 $18 {targeting the h-pawn, while threats of a Re3-g3 rook lift and Nd6 are in the air.}) 22. Nd6 $18 {winning material.}) 20. Nxd6 {the simplest way to make progress I could find.} Bxd6 21. exd6 Qxd6 22. Ne4 (22. Rcd1 $5 {would activate the rook on the open file, with Ne4 in reserve. "The threat is stronger than the execution."}) 22... Nxe4 23. Bxe4 {here I valued the centralized bishop and control of the a8-h1 diagonal more than the alternative.} (23. Qxe4 {I also considered and Dragon 3.2 rates as better.} f5 24. Qe3 $18) 23... f5 24. Bf3 {solid and still focused on controlling the long diagonal.} (24. Bb1 $5 {would keep the bishop pointed towards the kingside, its usual function in this structure.}) 24... Nf6 {this looks reasonable, but the knight in fact has no good squares from f6.} (24... Ng5) 25. Rcd1 {another long think. I didn't see anything else that was forcing, so decided the rook was best placed on the open d-file and I would see where the Black queen landed.} Qe7 26. Qe5 {with the correct idea of Rd6 as a follow-on, but this was not the best way to go about it.} (26. Bxf6 {this again seems contradictory in principle, exchanging the great bishop for a limited knight, but the tactics justify it.} Qxf6 27. Rd6 $18 {forking e6 and b6.}) 26... Bb7 {logically looking to trade bishops, as Black's is worse.} 27. Bxb7 Qxb7 28. Rd6 $1 {this is still very strong.} Rc6 {somehow I missed this defensive idea, but White is still winning. Another long think and the best decision.} 29. Red1 {keeping the tension.} Rc5 30. Qe3 {targeting the e-pawn.} (30. Qg3 {I wanted to play this, targeting g7 and threatening to take on f6, but saw the knight fork on e4 and stopped calculating. However, White has a spectacular tactical response.} Ne4 31. Rxb6 $1 {deflection tactic, as the queen is guarding against the mate on g7, so this simply wins a pawn.} Qf7 32. Qd3 $18) 30... e5 {best defense. I was starting to feel some time pressure now.} 31. Rd8 {still winning and the simplest path I could see.} Qe7 32. R8d6 $16 {the second best move, according to the engine. Following is all in time pressure until the endgame is reached. The idea here was to threaten b6.} (32. Rxe8+ $1 Qxe8 33. a4 $18 {not exactly easy to see, preventing a5-a4 to break up White's queenside pawns; then White is superior after some maneuvering around.}) 32... Qb7 33. f3 {a good idea in several variations, to take the e4 square away from Black's knight. Not optimal here, though.} (33. Qd3 {threatens f5 and other things.}) (33. Rd8 $5) 33... Qc7 34. g4 $6 {played to keep the pressure on in the mutual time scramble. Dragon 3.2 calls it a draw now, however.} (34. a4) 34... f4 35. Qd3 Kf7 $2 {now I can correctly penetrate and win.} (35... Rc6 $11) 36. Qf5 $1 $18 {with threats of Rd7 or an exchange sac on f6.} Kg8 37. Qg6 {I couldn't work out the exchange sac in the amount of time given, but this still should win.} (37. Rxf6 gxf6 38. Rd7 $1 $18) 37... Rf8 38. g5 $6 (38. h4 {is needed to prepare first.}) 38... hxg5 $11 {and Black can now hold.} 39. Qxg5 Nh7 $6 {this actually detracts from the defense, although it hits the queen.} 40. Qg6 $16 Rf6 41. Rd8+ Nf8 (41... Rf8 $2 42. R8d7 $18) 42. Qe8 Qf7 43. Bxe5 $11 (43. a4 {once again this positional idea keeps White on the winning side.}) 43... Qxe8 44. Rxe8 Rf7 $2 {I get lucky with this inaccuracy, which at first glance seems reasonable to defend g7.} (44... Rg6+ $11) 45. Rdd8 $18 {while I couldn't fully calculate the results, this move seemed obviously best, building up on the 8th rank.} g6 46. Rxf8+ {I assessed I would have a winning endgame after this forced sequence. The engine agrees.} Rxf8 47. Rxf8+ Kxf8 48. Bd6+ $1 Kf7 49. Bxc5 bxc5 {and now it is a winning endgame, although I was not 100 percent sure at the time I saw it appear on the board. Black's two disconnected queenside pawns are weak, but at least temporarily manage to hold back my three pawns. However Black will soon be in zugzwang.} 50. Kf2 Kf6 51. h4 {deciding to first shut down any possibilities on the kingside for Black.} Ke5 (51... g5 52. hxg5+ Kxg5 53. Ke2 Kh4 54. Kd3 Kg3 55. Ke4 $18) 52. Ke1 Kd4 53. Kd2 {gaining the opposition; Black only has losing moves in response.} a4 (53... Ke5 54. Kc3 {Black's king cannot penetrate, and now White wins by creating a passed pawn after b3-b4.}) 54. bxa4 Kxc4 55. a5 {now Black's king will have to go to the edge of the board to stop the a-pawns, while I grab the c-pawn and my king dominates.} Kb5 56. Kc3 Kxa5 57. Kc4 Ka4 58. Kxc5 Kxa3 59. Kd4 Kb4 60. Ke4 {and White wins the race to the kingside.} 1-0

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