Alberto Chueca, FIDE Trainer & International Master 
colle system chess
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The Colle system

The Colle system is an interesting opening idea that involves White playing in the center slowly but surely. You can assure very good attack chances with this opening if you know what you are playing for.

The curious thing is this is not too much like an opening, this is more like an idea or setup that allows you to achieve a certain position. Having to play logic and simple moves in the first stages of the game, this system is easy for everyone.

It always sticks with the principle and is one of those openings that Jose Raul Capablanca would approve of, the simple is best. It’s not extremely popular in the elite, but many strong masters like Julio Granda and Miladicovic were to use it in the past.

I absolutely love this line, this is not too complicated, allows you to put pressure fast, and is difficult to stop. If you want to master the Colle system keep reading this post, know the plans and ideas to play like a master.

Main lines of the Colle system

colle system pieces

The Colle system doesn’t have a straight line, you can get there in many ways, and this is the particularity of it. It’s not like an opening, is just a setup of your pieces, it could go like this:

1.d4 d5 2.c3 Nf6 3.Nf3 c6 4.e3 and we are in a Colle system, but it can also be like this: 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 c5 3.c3 Nf6 4.e3 and once again we are playing a Colle system.

 

If you haven’t noticed yet, the Colle system is this setup in which we have our pawn triangle on c3, d4, and e3. The idea of this is clear, we want to get a strong center immune to c5, to make e4 in conditions.

A game in the most normal Colle system variations could go like this: 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.d4 d5 3.c3 c6 4.e3 e6 5.Bd3 Nbd7 6.Nbd2 Be7 7.O-O b6 8.Qe2 Bb7 9.Re1. And now everything is clear, white unavoidably will make the move e4.

 

The Colle System is so lineal and simple that there are not more variations that we could show here. You achieve a position that will require you to choose the plan of your preference, we will talk about that now.

Here is another game with the Colle system played by the ex-world chess champion Vladimir Kramnik: 1.Nf3 c5 2.e3 Nf6 3.d4 d5 4.c3 e6 5.Nbd2 Nc6 6.Bd3 Be7 7.O-O once again getting a solid position where white could do many things, let’s see what he can do.

 

The Colle system for white

colle system

White is free to do many things in the position, and at this point, you should have figured it out, but we’ll explain the ideas here:

White plays e3 so early in the opening, which seems to be against the chess opening principles, but has an idea. White solidifies his central structure to prepare a pretty strong e4 advance, which normally gives him some advantage.

This will normally leave black with two nasty options. Either capture and give white total control of e4 square or ignoring the advance and having white play e5. Both options will make concessions in the position and will leave black sad.

However, this is not the only way to play as white, you can also play an easy knight e5 to advance f4. This will screw your knight on the e5 square and can lead to the more positional, and quiet type of game.

Moreover, white still has a good position on both, but you are not to get so cocky, black also has his own ideas.

The Colle system for black

colle system king

If you are playing the black pieces we recommend you go for a completely different approach. There are many things that you can do with black, is not completely lost. Nonetheless, you must act quickly so you don’t let white kill you so easily.

Rule number one is that you must play c5, at some point early on, or you can delay it a bit, but you have to play it. It’s also possible that you simply play c6, which involves another nice idea we’ll talk about in a minute.

But c5 is a move that will fight to keep white’s initiative under control. The other way around is that you play c6, which is copying white’s idea, of course, if you play c6 is to play e5!

You can’t just sit like a dog and wait for white to mistake, you can also advance the pawn yourself and gain fight for the initiative. There is an interesting play in which you, as black, keep the symmetry on the board, and as soon as white plays e4 you play e5.

This will leave an interesting structure on the center, that may seem a little overwhelming:

 

You can reach this position like this: 1.d4 d5 2.c3 Nf6 3.Nf3 c6 4.e3 e6 5.Bd3 Bd6 6.O-O O-O 7.Re1 Re8 8.Nbd2 Nbd7 9.e4 e5. And you are fighting for the center just like white is, the position should be equal.

Plans and ideas of the Colle system

The main idea of the Colle system is that you control the central square of e4 as white. All of the moves in the opening go for that idea, as black, you should try to stop that as you can.

There is also an important idea in this opening, the e5 advance by white. If you are playing white and have the opportunity to push e5 do it, this will give you more space and a lot of attacking chances. While black will have to do magic to develop his pieces, especially the c8 bishop.

And, of course, if you are black, you must not allow your opponent to gain space with e5, is better to play e5 yourself.

The Colle System is easy to play, but still dangerous, is definitely worth the try.

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