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December Update: - What's New

Considering that the Colle system and its "Zukertortian" alter-ego (at a high level) mainly arises from the order of moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.e3 (which can be seen as an "Anti-Nimzovitch" weapon) I thought it would be interesting to study the idea from the perspective of a Queen's Gambit player, as Black, after the moves 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 and then 3.e3.

GM Eric Prié,


You can download the December '03 d-pawn specials games directly in PGN form here: Download Games

3...e6 being the normal Colle, the subject of this month is the most natural reply against White's early and deliberate commitment: 3...Bg4, which is, perhaps strangely, designated as the "Anti-Colle" system:

Incidentally, it has similar features, with reversed colours, to some recurrent themes in the d-Pawn specials section; i.e. the doubled f-pawns (and consequently the bishop pair) and the vulnerability of the b-pawn (as a result of a lateral attack by a c-pawn after an early sortie of the queen's bishop).

In Game 1, White tried to play a "defensive game", with all the risks that this comprises, opting for a Queen's Gambit Orthodox set-up with colours reversed, but this proved ill-adapted and he was quickly worse.

Games 2 to 7 showed White applying the standard and most well-known "recipe" of playing 4.c4 - the sooner, the better - with the idea of transposing into some original sub-lines of the Queen's Gambit, allegedly favourable for him because of the possibility of hitting Black's b-pawn. The more White delays this decision, the less critical the transposition will be for Black.

That is why Black decided to immediately veer the white queen from the queenside with the move 4...Bxf3 in games 2 to 6. In the first 4 of these, White decided to pay the price of a slight weakening of his pawn structure to keep the threat Qb3 and legitimately seized the occasion to reinforce his center with 5.gxf3, thus practically forcing 5...c6 as a direct consequence. Indeed, if Black had obligingly given his light-squared bishop in the hope of making an aggressive use of his c-pawn, presumably it was not to find himself back with a queen on c8!

In Game 2 and Game 3, White quickly resolved the central tension with the exchange 6.cxd5 estimating that after 6...cxd5, the resulting pawn structure was preferable to Black being able to take back on d5 with the e-pawn later, but this decision was a lot more questionable than 5.gxf3 since it offered a nice square for the b8-knight. In both cases and, eventually in a similar way, White got into trouble with the security of his king when his opponent managed to open the center.

In Game 4, White rightly maintained the central tension and made an instructive use of his doubled pawns to establish a strong bind which was very helpful when he successfully decided to attack along the open g-file.

Game 5 saw approximately the same picture except that Black played more precisely and was able to loosen the opposing hold over the position before cracking-up in the complications.

In Game 6, White chose the good and simple 5.Qxf3 and had the chance to play interestingly against the opponent's isolated d-pawn. Instead, he was very optimistic with his development and was punished for having kept his king in the center too long.

Black played the more sensible 4....e6 in Game 7, making this an original "Anti-Colle" system rather than 4...c6 which would have transposed into a fashionable line of the Slav. As a result, White was never in a position to exert any kind of pressure against Black's b-pawn and light-squared bishop.

The remaining games are dedicated to the most testing 4.h3, immediately asking an annoying question of the bishop:

Black refused to part with it in games 8 to 10:

In Game 8, White used the idea of combining the pushing back of the bishop to h5, with the possibility of hitting the vulnerability of b7 with 5.c4, Black replying 5...e6, as in game 7:

Although it seemed a significant improvement from the White point of view, Black somehow managed to survive the resulting attack on his kingside and emerged with a winning position after the storm.

Much more worrying for Black, and more consequent for the system were Game 9 and Game 10 where White employed the simplistic strategy of playing straightforwardly against the bishop with 5.g4 Bg6 6.Ne5 and the idea h4, which is more efficient when the diagonal b1-h7 has not been opened with c2-c4:

In both encounters, Black got crushed in the opening but managed to escape with a draw in game 9.

This was not the end of the world, it just meant that Black should take on f3, with an extra tempo compared to games 2 to 6 and a possible, if not likely, transposition into the [D11] 4...Bg4 main line. This is what happened in Game 11 but Black then developed his pieces whimsically and just could not withstand the power of the opposing pair of bishops.

Till next month! Eric Prié.