The Colle System

Attacking in the Queen-pawn openings:
the Colle system

  1. Landau - Book, Kemeri, 1937
  2. Pillsbury - Amateur, Toronto, 1899
  3. Colle - Stoltz, Bled, 1931
  4. Colle - O'Hanlon, Nice Ol, 1930
  5. Some Colle theory
    1. Black gets into a little trouble with 4...e6.
    2. Black's Queen's Knight should go to d7, supporting c5,e5 and f6
    3. Black's Queen's Knight should not go to c6 but to d7
    4. Black cannot develop fast enough to get in the ...e5 counter in one move
    5. Black can equalise by developing the Queen's Bishop
    6. Black can try to blunt the power of the Bd3 by ...g6
    7. But even if Black adopts the ...g6 idea, the game need not be easy
  6. Eliskases - Rosetto, Mar del Plata, 1950
  7. Pillsbury,Harry N - Winawer, S (Budapest, 1896)

The Colle opening proper goes 1. d4 d5 and now 2. Nf3 3. e3 4. Bd3 with Nbd2, O-O, Re1 and e4 to follow. If Black hits the d-pawn with ...c5, White should reply c3 to shore up the centre. The formation c3-d4-e3 is the famous Colle triangle.

  Although White takes two moves to achieve e4, it should lead either to an open game after ...dxe4 or, if Black avoids the exchange, the strong advance e5.

  Black should keep up the pressure on d4, holding up White's e4 break and threatening to isolate the d-pawn.

 

tSlDjLsT
Xx+-XxXx
-+-+-+-+
+-Xx+-+-
-+-P-+-+
+-PbPn+-
pP-N-PpP
R-BqR-K-

Here's a game to get us started:

 

Landau - Book, Kemeri, 1937

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 e6 4. Bd3 c5 5. c3 Nbd7 6. Nbd2 Bd6 7. O-O O-O

 

t+lD-Tj+
Xx+s+xXx
-+-LxS-+
+-Xx+-+-
-+-P-+-+
+-PbPn+-
pP-N-PpP
R-BqR-K-

8. Re1 Diagram

  An accurate and important move.

[8. e4 cxd4 9. cxd4 dxe4 10. Nxe4 Nxe4 11. Bxe4 Qb6 and, if anything, Black has better prospects]

  8... Qc7 This is probably best:

[8... b6 is too slow]

[8... e5 too early: 9. e4! +=]

[8....c4 is a mistake: 9. Bc2 and 10. e4 will now come with greater force]

 

[8... Re8 9. e4 dxe4 10. Nxe4 Nxe4 11. Bxe4 cxd4? Diagram

12. Bxh7+ Kxh7 13. Ng5+ Kg6 14. h4 Rh8 15. Rxe6+ +- Fine]

  Variation

 

t+lDt+j+
Xx+s+xXx
-+-Lx+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+-Xb+-+
+-P-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
R-BqR-K-

9. e4 cxd4 10. cxd4 dxe4 11. Nxe4 Nxe4 12. Rxe4 Re8 13. Rh4 Nf8 14. Ng5 h6 15. Qh5 e5 16. Bd2 exd4 17. Rc1 Qe7 18. Ne4

 

t+l+tSj+
Xx+-DxX-
-+-L-+-X
+-+-+-+q
-+-Xn+-R
+-+b+-+-
pP-B-PpP
+-R-+-K-

18... Ng6 (else Bxh6)

  19. Bg5 Qe5

[19... hxg5 20. Qh7+ Kf8 21. Qh8+ Nxh8 22. Rxh8#]

  20. f4 Qd5

[20... Qa5 21. b4]

 

t+l+t+j+
Xx+-+xX-
-+-L-+sX
+-+d+-Bq
-+-XnP-R
+-+b+-+-
pP-+-+pP
+-R-+-K-

White now lands two good punches

  21. Nf6+ gxf6 22. Bxg6

  Black's pawn cover has suddenly disappeared.

 

t+l+t+j+
Xx+-+x+-
-+-L-XbX
+-+d+-Bq
-+-X-P-R
+-+-+-+-
pP-+-+pP
+-R-+-K-

22... Bf8

[22... fxg6 23. Qxg6+ Kf8 24. Qxf6+ Qf7 25. Bxh6+ Kg8 26. Qg5+ Kh8 27. Bg7+ Kg8 28. Rh8#]

[22... fxg5 23. Qxh6 gxh4 24. Bh7+ Kh8 25. Be4+ Kg8 26. Bxd5]

  23. Rc7 Be6 24. Bxf6 Qxh5

  Ordinarily, exchanging queens is an important achievement for the defence.

  25. Bxh5 Rec8

 

t+t+-Lj+
XxR-+x+-
-+-+lB-X
+-+-+-+b
-+-X-P-R
+-+-+-+-
pP-+-+pP
+-+-+-K-

Has Black held on long enough?

  26. Bxf7+ and still they come!

  26... Kh7

[ 26... Bxf7 27. Rg4+ Kh7 28. Rxf7+ Bg7 29. Rgxg7+ Kh8 30. Rg6#]

  27. Rxc8 Bxc8 28. Bxd4

  Cashing in

  28... Bf5 29. Rh5 1-0

  Here's another Colle game by that demon attacker, Harry Pillsbury.

 

Pillsbury - Amateur, Toronto, 1899

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Bd3 Nbd7 5. O-O b6 6. Nbd2 Bd6

 

t+lDj+-T
X-Xs+xXx
-X-LxS-+
+-+x+-+-
-+-P-+-+
+-+bPn+-
pPpN-PpP
R-Bq+rK-

The Classic Colle start.

  7. e4 dxe4 8. Nxe4 Bb7 9. Nxd6+ cxd6 10. Bf4 Bxf3 11. Qxf3 d5 12. Bd6 Rc8 13. Rfe1 Rc6 14. Ba3 a5 15. c4 Ne4

 

-+-Dj+-T
+-+s+xXx
-Xt+x+-+
X-+x+-+-
-+pPs+-+
B-+b+q+-
pP-+-PpP
R-+-R-K-

The game has developed differently to Landau's, but Pillsbury still has a fine attack based on his Bishops and the poor Black K position.

  16. cxd5 Ng5 17. Qg3 Rc8 18. dxe6 Nxe6 19. Rxe6+ fxe6 20. Qg6+ hxg6 21. Bxg6+ 1-0

  Here's the man himself, who perfected the modern approach to the opening.

  This is well worth going through move by move.


Colle - Stoltz, Bled, 1931

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 c5 4. c3 Nbd7 5. Nbd2 Qc7 6. Bd3 e5 7. e4 dxe4 8. Nxe4 Nxe4 9. Bxe4 Nf6 10. Bc2 cxd4

 

t+l+jL-T
XxD-+xXx
-+-+-S-+
+-+-X-+-
-+-X-+-+
+-P-+n+-
pPb+-PpP
R-BqK-+r

11. O-O (a pawn offer, which should not have been accepted) 11... dxc3 12. Nxe5 Bd6 13. Ba4+ Kf8

[13... Bd7 14. Nxd7 Nxd7 15. Re1+ Kf8 16. Bxd7 Qxd7 17. bxc3]

  14. Bf4 Bg4 this attempt to mix it is understandable but ill-judged 15. Ng6+ Kg8

[15... hxg6 16. Bxd6+ Kg8 17. Bxc7 Bxd1 18. Raxd1]

  16. Bxd6 Bxd1 17. Bxc7 Bxa4 18. Nxh8 Nd5 19. Ba5 c2 20. Bd2 Kxh8

  White has a small advantage, which he exploits perfectly

  21. Rfe1 Kg8 22. Rac1 Rc8 23. Re4 Bd7 24. Rd4 Be6 25. b3 b5 26. Ba5 g5 27. Rd2 Rc6 28. Rcxc2 Ra6 29. b4 Rd6 30. a3 h6 31. Rc5 a6 32. Bc7 Rd7 33. Be5 Kh7 34. h3 h5 35. Bb2 Kg6 36. Rc6 1-0

  And Colle again. Take this one slowly if you play it through, there's a lot to enjoy!


Colle - O'Hanlon, Nice Ol, 1930

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 c5 4. c3 e6 5. Bd3 Bd6 6. Nbd2 Nbd7 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1 Re8 9. e4 dxe4 10. Nxe4 Nxe4 11. Bxe4 cxd4

 

t+lDt+j+
Xx+s+xXx
-+-Lx+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+-Xb+-+
+-P-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
R-BqR-K-

12. Bxh7+ Kxh7 13. Ng5+

 

t+lDt+-+
Xx+s+xXj
-+-Lx+-+
+-+-+-N-
-+-X-+-+
+-P-+-+-
pP-+-PpP
R-BqR-K-

13... Kg6

[13... Kg8 This is the only real alternative. Analysis by Euwe and Kramer suggests that White's attack is wortha draw but no more. The variations and ideas are very typical of the h7 sac in the Colle and are worth playing over.

14. Qh5 DIAGRAM

  Variation

 

t+lDt+j+
Xx+s+xX-
-+-Lx+-+
+-+-+-Nq
-+-X-+-+
+-P-+-+-
pP-+-PpP
R-B-R-K-

(A) 14... Ne5 15. Rxe5

[or 15. Qh7+ Kf8 16. Ne4 Ng6 17. Nxd6 Qxd6 18. h4 Ke7 19. h5 Rh8 20. Bg5+ Ke8 [20... Kf8 21. hxg6 Rxh7 22. gxh7 wins] 21. Qxg7 Rxh5 22. Qf6 Qe7 and Black is better]

15... Bxe5 16. Qxf7+ Kh8 17. Qh5+ and White has nothing better than perpetual check]

(B) [14... Qf6 15. Qh7+ Kf8 16. Ne4 Qe5 17. cxd4 Qd5 ?

[17... Qxd4 18. Qh8+ Ke7 19. Bg5+ wins]

[17... Qxh2+ 18. Qxh2 Bxh2+ 19. Kxh2 is about level]

18. Qh8+ Ke7 19. Qxg7 with strong attack]

(C) 14... Nf6 15. Qxf7+ Kh8 16. Re4 Nxe4

[16... Bxh2+ 17. Kxh2 Nxe4 18. Qh5+ Kg8 19. Qh7+ Kf8 20. Qh8+ Ke7 21. Qxg7+ Kd6 22. Nf7+ wins the Q]

17. Qh5+ Kg8 18. Qh7+ Kf8 19. Qh8+ Ke7 20. Qxg7#]

  Back to the game!

  14. h4 Rh8

 

t+lD-+-T
Xx+s+xX-
-+-Lx+j+
+-+-+-N-
-+-X-+-P
+-P-+-+-
pP-+-Pp+
R-BqR-K-

[14... f5 15. h5+ Kf6 16. Qxd4+ Be5 17. Qh4 g6 18. f4 +-]

  15. Rxe6+ Nf6

[15... fxe6 16. Qd3+ Kf6 17. Qf3+ Kg6 18. Qf7+ Kh6 19. Nxe6+]

 

 

t+lD-+-T
Xx+-+xX-
-+-LrSj+
+-+-+-N-
-+-X-+-P
+-P-+-+-
pP-+-Pp+
R-Bq+-K-

16. h5+ Kh6

[ 16... Rxh5 17. Qd3+ Kh6 18. Qh7#]

  17. Rxd6 Qa5 18. Nxf7+ Kh7 19. Ng5+ Kg8 20. Qb3+ 1-0

  A superb game -- although Black could have held on in theory, he was blown away.

 

Some Colle theory

Let's start again, having got the idea of the opening, and look at some detail of move order.

  Start as we have seen: 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 c5

  I will explain some of the ideas behind the moves in the games above.

 

Black gets into a little trouble with 4...e6.

4. c3

 

tSlDjL-T
Xx+-XxXx
-+-+-S-+
+-Xx+-+-
-+-P-+-+
+-P-Pn+-
pP-+-PpP
RnBqKb+r

Now, we often see

  4... e6

  What next?


Black's Queen's Knight should go to d7, supporting c5,e5 and f6

The most logical development for both sides is probably

  1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 e6 4. Bd3 c5 5. c3 Nbd7 6. Nbd2 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1!

  For this position, see Landau-Book (our first game above). It's probably about equal, but Black cannot relax for a moment.

 

t+lD-Tj+
Xx+s+xXx
-+-LxS-+
+-Xx+-+-
-+-P-+-+
+-PbPn+-
pP-N-PpP
R-BqR-K-


Black's Queen's Knight should not go to c6 but to d7

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 c5 4. c3 e6 5. Nbd2 Nc6

  natural, but less accurate

  6. Bd3 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. dxc5 Bxc5 9. e4 e5(!) 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Qe2 Bg4 12. Ne4+=

 

t+-D-Tj+
Xx+-+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-LsX-+-
-+-+n+l+
+-Pb+n+-
pP-+qPpP
R-B-+rK-

Black can just about equalise in this line:

[9... Qc7 10. Qe2 Bd6 11. Re1 Ng4 12. h3 Nge5 13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. exd5 exd5 15. Nf3 Nxd3 16. Qxd3 Qc4 17. Rd1 Qxd3 18. Rxd3 Rd8

...and the two bishops compensate for the isolated pawn in the endgame

 

 

t+lT-+j+
Xx+-+xXx
-+-L-+-+
+-+x+-+-
-+-+-+-+
+-Pr+n+p
pP-+-Pp+
R-B-+-K-


Black cannot develop fast enough to get in the ...e5 counter in one move

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 c5 4. c3

  4... Nbd7 5. Nbd2 Qc7

  aiming at ...e5

  6. Qa4 g6 7. c4 Bg7 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. e4 N5b6 10. Qc2 +=]

 

t+l+j+-T
XxDsXxLx
-S-+-+x+
+-X-+-+-
-+-Pp+-+
+-+-+n+-
pPqN-PpP
R-B-Kb+r


Black can equalise by developing the Queen's Bishop

If White's Bd3 is threatening, and Black's ...e6 leads to difficulty if the Bc8 gets stuck , the natural move is ...Bf5.

  In fact, this is recommended as leading to an equal game.

  1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3

  3... Bf5 e.g. 4. Bd3 e6 5. Bxf5 exf5 6. Qd3 Qc8 7. b3 Na6 8. O-O Be7 9. c4 O-O 10. Nc3 c6 11. Bb2 Ne4

  Black is comfortable

  Also possible is 3...Bg4 and later ...e6, also equalising.

 

t+d+-Tj+
Xx+-LxXx
s+x+-+-+
+-+x+x+-
-+pPs+-+
+pNqPn+-
pB-+-PpP
R-+-+rK-


Black can try to blunt the power of the Bd3 by ...g6

t+lD-Tj+
Xx+sXxLx
-+-+-Sx+
+-Xx+-+-
-+-P-+-+
+-PbPn+-
pP-N-PpP
R-Bq+rK-

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 c5 4. c3

  4... g6 5. Nbd2 Nbd7 6. Bd3 Bg7 7. O-O O-O DIAGRAM

  Now Fine says only 8. b4, changing plan, is good enough for White because the main plan with e4 leads to a slightly worse game:

[8. e4 dxe4 9. Nxe4 cxd4 10. Nxd4 Ne5 11. Nxf6+ Bxf6 12. Be2 Bd7 =+]


But even if Black adopts the ...g6 idea, the game need not be easy

Eliskases - Rosetto, Mar del Plata, 1950

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 c6 3. e3 g6 4. Bd3 Bg7 5. Nbd2 Nh6 6. c3 O-O 7. O-O Nd7 8. e4 dxe4 9. Nxe4 Nf5 10. Bf4 Nf6 (?) 11. Nxf6+ Bxf6

 

t+lD-Tj+
Xx+-Xx+x
-+x+-Lx+
+-+-+s+-
-+-P-B-+
+-Pb+n+-
pP-+-PpP
R-+q+rK-

White has the advantage in the centre

  12. Qd2 Qb6 13. Rfe1 c5

  it would have been better to aim for the ...e5 break

  14. Bxf5 Bxf5 15. Be5

 

t+-+-Tj+
Xx+-Xx+x
-D-+-Lx+
+-X-Bl+-
-+-P-+-+
+-P-+n+-
pP-Q-PpP
R-+-R-K-

15... Rfd8 naive

[15... Bxe5 16. Rxe5 White's small force is making very nasty threats]

[15... Kg7 best]

  16. Qh6 Bxe5 17. Rxe5 cxd4 18. Ng5 Qf6

 

t+-T-+j+
Xx+-Xx+x
-+-+-DxQ
+-+-RlN-
-+-X-+-+
+-P-+-+-
pP-+-PpP
R-+-+-K-

19. Rxe7 Qg7

[19... Rd7 20. Rae1]

  20. Qh4

[20. Qxg7+ Kxg7 21. Rxf7+ Kg8 22. Rxb7 d3 with counterplay]

  20... dxc3 21. Rxf7 cxb2 22. Rxg7+ Kxg7

 

t+-T-+-+
Xx+-+-Jx
-+-+-+x+
+-+-+lN-
-+-+-+-Q
+-+-+-+-
pX-+-PpP
R-+-+-K-

23. Re1 Rd7

[23... b1=Q 24. Qxh7+ Kf6 25. Qe7#]

[23... h6 24. Re7+ Kg8 25. Qc4+ Kh8 26. Rh7#]

[23... Re8 24. Qd4+ Kg8 25. Qc4+ ! 25... Kg7 26. Qc3+ Kg8 27. Qb3+ Kh8 28. Qxb2+ winning]

  24. Qb4 Re8 25. Qxb2+ Kh6 26. Nf7+ resigns 26... Kh5 27. g4+ Bxg4 28. Rxe8 1-0

  You can actually apply the style of the Colle in many d-pawn openings.

NN-NN

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 Bd6

  Here we go again...

  7. e4 dxe4 8. Nxe4 Nxe4 9. Bxe4 Nf6 10. Bc2 O-O 11. O-O c5 12. Bg5 cxd4 13. Qxd4 !

 

t+lD-Tj+
Xx+-+xXx
-+-LxS-+
+-+-+-B-
-+pQ-+-+
+-+-+n+-
pPb+-PpP
R-+-+rK-

13... Be7

[13... Bxh2+ 14. Kxh2 Ng4+]

  14. Qh4 ! 14... h6 15. Bxh6 gxh6 16. Qxh6 Qa5 17. Ng5 e5 18. Bh7+ Kh8 19. Be4+ Kg8 20. Rfe1 Bg4 21. Re3 Rad8 22. Rg3 Rd4 23. Ne6 fxe6 24. Rxg4+ 1-0 [24. Rxg4+ Kf7 25. Qg6#]

 

  Here's Harry Pillsbury again, on the White side of the Slav.

 

Pillsbury,Harry N - Winawer, S (Budapest, 1896)

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. e3 Nf6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. O-O O-O

 

t+lD-Tj+
Xx+s+xXx
-+xLxS-+
+-+x+-+-
-+pP-+-+
+-NbPn+-
pP-+-PpP
R-Bq+rK-

Not the Colle opening, but we can see the approach at work:

  8. e4 dxe4 9. Nxe4 Nxe4 10. Bxe4 Nf6 11. Bc2 h6 12. Be3 Re8 13. Qd3 Qc7 14. c5 Bf8 15. Ne5

 

t+l+tLj+
XxD-+xX-
-+x+xS-X
+-P-N-+-
-+-P-+-+
+-+qB-+-
pPb+-PpP
R-+-+rK-

Black starts to mix it, but White's better position suggests that only White can profit when tactics break out.

  15...Bxc5 16. Bxh6 Bxd4 17. Qxd4 gxh6 18. Qf4 Nd5 19. Qxh6 f6 20. f4 Re7 21. Ng6 1-0

 

Chess Quotes

"If you have any doubt what to study, study endgames. Openings teach you openings. Endings teach you chess."
— Stephan GERZADOWICZ, Thinker's Chess.