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With the World's leading London System expert busy fine-tuning that opening, not to mention no doubt making further major discoveries in both the Trompowsky and the Veresov, Eric has kindly asked me to supply some Colle coverage this month. As readers of both Starting Out: The Colle and Starting Out: d-pawn Attacks (which examines the Colle-Zukertort, as well as the Barry and 150 Attacks) will be aware, I've long been of the opinion that both versions of the Colle are a little underrated and remain excellent weapons for the club player.

Download PGN of August '09 d-Pawn Specials games

The Colle System

We begin our coverage with 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 e3 e6 4 Bd3 c5 5 c3 Nc6 6 Nbd2 Bd6 7 0-0 0-0 (the most common of many possible move orders) 8 dxc5 Bxc5 9 e4, which can be considered the main line of the pure Colle (or Colle-Koltanowski, as some American subscribers may prefer):

Following 9...Qc7 10 Qe2 we examine various recent tries by Black in Fenollar Jorda-Suba. There Black plumps for 10...h6!, which remains quite annoying for White, although Suba later lost his way and was a little lucky to escape with a draw.

In Welling - Tofte I've examined some early deviations for both sides, and especially Black's 9th-move alternatives to 9...Qc7. In the game 9...Bb6 was seen, but after 10 Qe2 h6 11 b4! White had decent chances of emerging with an edge:

Black now tried to show that White's last up was too ambitious with 11...d4?

The Colle-Zukertort

After 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 e3 e6 4 Bd3 c5 a popular option at all levels is 5 b3, after which 5...b6 6 0-0 Bb7 7 Bb2 Bd6 8 Nbd2 0-0 has been fairly popular of late. Black might then meet 9 Ne5 with 9...Nbd7, but 10 f4 Ne4 gives White decent chances for an edge, irrespective of which exchange he prefers on e4:

In Gelashvili - Mijovic he captures with the knight, and 11 Nxe4 dxe4 12 Bc4 Nf6 13 Ng4 maintains a pleasant pull and some attacking prospects.

Black can also challenge the powerful e5-steed with 9...Nc6, after which 10 a3 Rc8 11 Qe2 (11 f4 is probably more critical) 11...Ne7 led to a tough manoeuvring struggle in Cvitan - Caruana. There we also examine the important alternative 5...Nc6 6 0-0 Bd6 7 Bb2 0-0 8 Nbd2 Qe7:

This remains in good health I'm afraid I must report to Colle-Zukertort fans, not least because that modern nuance 9 Ne5 cxd4 10 exd4 Qc7! continues to look like quite an easy equalizer.

Finally, we come to Hebden - Markos in which Black adopted an idea of Jon Speelman's, namely the creative 5...Nbd7 6 Bb2 g6!?:

However, after 7 0-0 Bg7 8 c4! 0-0 9 Nc3 b6 (9...dxc4!? may improve) 10 cxd5! exd5 11 Rc1 White enjoyed a pleasant edge, and Hebden came very close to converting his advantage after a model grind.

The Colle Queen's Indian

Naturally the Colle is playable too against 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 and, indeed, 3 e3 has long been a favourite with Yusupov. Following 3...b6 4 Bd3 Bb7 5 0-0 c5 White faces a choice:

He might play in pure Colle style with 6 Nbd2 Be7 7 c3, which is a little unfashionable but by no means bad, or head for a Zukertort set-up with 6 b3 Be7 7 0-0, as White did in Ghane Gardeh-Johansen. I must confess that against an experienced opponent, the latter approach is unlikely to produce any advantage, although some are happy to aim to slowly outmanoeuvre their opponents with it.

I've long considered the critical challenge to be 6 c4, which technically-speaking takes play into Queen's Indian waters (E14). However, this position often arises from the Colle and impressively continues to claim victims. One common mistake is 6...Be7 7 Nc3 cxd4 8 exd4 d6?! (as we will see, 8...d5! remains critical, if perhaps sharper than Black might like):

At this point the immediate 9 d5! is strong, although 9 a3!? 0-0 and only then 10 d5 didn't turn out too badly either in Danielian - Zhao Xue.

So, no real blockbuster novelties in this update, but plenty of evidence that both the Colle and the Colle-Zukertort remain dangerous practical weapons!

Handing back over to Eric... Richard