Colle System

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3

The Colle System is not an opening but rather a system for the White player. As an opening system, what defines the Colle is not a specific order of moves but rather the way White deploys their army. Although a solid and somewhat unambitious system, the Colle can be a good option for players who want to avoid a heavily theoretical game.

Starting Position

As mentioned before, there is no specific move order for the Colle System. Instead, the Colle is characterized by a piece setup including pawns on d4 and e3, a knight on f3, and a bishop on d3. Below you can see the piece setup that defines the Colle System.

Colle System Chess opening
The usual piece setup that characterizes the Colle System.

White's main idea is to develop their kingside pieces quickly. Then, depending on what Black plays, White aims for the e3-e4 push or a kingside attack.


  • It's a simple system to play as White.
  • There's not a lot of theory involved in this opening.
  • Most of White's strategical ideas and plans are similar regardless of how Black plays.


  • It's not the most testing system to play against as Black.
  • Black can choose if they want a more positional or tactical game.

Main Variations Of The Colle System

As mentioned earlier, the Colle System is an opening system that is light in theory. There are mainly two ideas that White can go for: playing the pure Colle-Koltanowski or the Colle-Zukertort.

Colle-Koltanowski System

White can play the regular Colle-Koltanowski, playing the moves d4, e3, Bd3, and Nf3 in no particular order. White can then continue with the key move c3. White's main plan is to launch a kingside attack, although a queenside expansion (similar to Black's play in the Slav Defense) is not uncommon. 

Colle-Zukertort System

White can also sometimes play the Colle-Zukertort system (named after Johannes Zukertort), which also involves the usual d4, e3, Bd3, and Nf3. However, White doesn't play c3 but instead opts for b3 to fianchetto their dark-squared bishop on b2.

From there, White can choose to strike on the center with a c2-c4 push, attack Black's kingside, or even expand on the queenside.

History Of The Colle System

The Colle System gets its name from the Belgian player Edgard Colle, who played the opening at the beginning of the 1900s. Colle played great attacking model games using this system, which helped to popularize it. 

Later, George Koltanowski adopted the opening and made it even more famous after employing it to win several tournaments. Koltanowski also taught many of his students the Colle System and wrote a book about it. According to him, the opening was convenient because it demanded little study while offering good chances to win or, at least, draw the game.

Many other strong players adopted the opening throughout their careers, including GMs Artur Jussupow and Vladimir Kramnik.

Top Players