Openings for Tactical Players: Colle System

  • GM Gserper
  • | Mar 21, 2010

In my old article "Hard Candy" which was published here exactly one year ago ( I wrote that  "some openings are very venomous despite their innocent appearance."  The Colle System is definitely one of them. This variation was championed by Belgian master Edgard Colle.  Due to his health problems and untimely death at the early age of 34 he couldn't demonstrate his full potential. That's why today most chess-players remember him only for his opening even though he was a strong player and had many outstanding results.

These days the Colle System is very popular in scholastic tournaments.  It is understandable that it is so easy for most coaches to show their young students the opening moves (1. d4, 2.Nf3, 3. e3, 4. Bd3) which you can play practically against any Black set up.  The problem is that many chess-players don't really understand the key ideas of the opening. So instead of trying to seize the initiative and start an attack at the first possible moment, they just enjoy their solid position and play natural moves. It is probably the main reason why the majority of chess-players consider it a safe but somewhat passive opening. But if it is such a passive opening, how could Edgard Colle beat the best Grandmasters of his time using this system? This is the list of outstanding players who were beaten by Edgard Colle in the Colle system: World Champion Max Euwe,World Title contender Efim Bogoljubov, the famous theoreticians and authors of their own openings Ernst Gruenfeld ( The Grunfeld Defense) and Vasja Pirc (The Pirc Defense), as well as famous GMs Akiba Rubinstein and Rudolf Spielmann. What was Colle's secret for turning a passive looking opening into a very dangerous weapon?  I noticed that in most of his games he was not afraid to take risks and start his attack whenever he had a chance. One of his favorite moves was Ng5 which he played whenever possible.  It is a well known saying about Tal's games: "If Tal has an open file, there will be a checkmate!"  I think we can say the same thing about Edgard Colle and the Ng5 move :)

When a chess-player wants to learn a new opening he usually buys opening monographs, Encyclopedias or chess videos about the subject of his interest. Let me suggest a different way.  If you want to learn the Colle System, just get the games played by the Master himself.  You'll understand the spirit of the opening and learn the main ideas much better.  Besides it is much more interesting than just read those opening books. Here I want to give you some tactical puzzles taken from the games played with the Colle System by Edgard Colle!



If you never played the Colle System before, do yourself a favor and try it at least once just out of respect for a great master of attack, Edgard Colle. I am telling you, you may love it!
Good luck!


  • 2 months ago


    I play the Colle a lot and have had some good successes, one opening I do struggle somewhat with is when black fiancettos the King bishop early. Any suggestions?

  • 13 months ago


    Excellent players also playing  Colle system .

    for example,

     Kovalenko,Igor"2661"-Vazquez Igarza,Renier"2596"-2015.3.4,[Result "1-0"]

     Ushenina, Anna"2486"-Hou,Yifan "2637" -2014.12.13[Result "1-0"]

     Drazic, Sinisa"2439" -Sebenik, Matej"2507" -2015.5.13[Result "1/2-1/2"]

    These examples include three different strategies for Colle System.




  • 14 months ago


    1 . D4 D5 Cf3 Cf6 e3 but isn't Ff5 or the best Fg4 a problem for the Colle ?  

  • 14 months ago


    1 . D4 D5 Cf3 Cf6 e3 but isn't Ff5 or the best Fg4 a problem for the Colle ?  

  • 3 years ago


    Indian Defense / Torre Attack / Rubinstein-Yusupov System or Colle System?

  • 4 years ago


    This is what I learned:








    And soon after Ne5, and Rg3, and bring the queen out to place a heavy attack on the kingside of Black.

  • 4 years ago


    Yep, sure makes me want to try The Colle out.  I'm going to try to find as many of Edgar as I can.  Thanks a ton!

  • 4 years ago


    Does 3 Bg4 make the collie system irrelavent, or should I continue with 4 Nbd2?

  • 5 years ago


    cool cool

  • 5 years ago


    Thanks to this article, I was able to produce this miniature (I know black helped).
  • 6 years ago


    problem number one is incorect..After 14.h4 if black playes f4 he equalizes

  • 6 years ago


    btw, thanks go to Gserper. Very nice article

  • 6 years ago


    I have tried the Colle but often have trouble pushing my e-pawn to open up the King-side. Suggestions?

  • 6 years ago


    I was afraid to use Colle. I couldn't find books about it and Eric Schiller mentioned it in his analysis as overly passive. I usually get bored with passive openings however solid. But now I am more curious about it because of those tactical puzzles and will give it a try.

  • 7 years ago



  • 7 years ago


    like this opening, will try to use it thanx

  • 7 years ago


    hmmm i'm gonna try and use this opening in my next game... just to try it out. it looks very useful

  • 7 years ago


    In the first game can anyone please explain to me why 17. RxB and not 17. Nf7+?

    Does black refuse 17. ... QxR because he needs the rook on R8 to help protect his king?

  • 7 years ago


    Nice, thank you!

  • 7 years ago


    I"ve been playting the Stonewall for some time and gained victories from time to time esp. with relatively weak opponents.I saw that the Stonewall have almost the same key ideas with the Colle System.I think I'll try this system since there are almost identical in the pawn structure and attack. Thank you for sharing the System.

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