Sunday, January 11, 2009

Legends of Chess: Edgar Colle

Saturday, January 17: BCC Legends of Chess: Edgar Colle 4SS; G/65. EF: $27, $17 to BCF members. Two sections: Open & U1800; Prizes: b/entries. Reg: 9:15 – 9:50. Rounds: 10, 12:40, 3:00, 5:10

Edgard Colle
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Edgard Colle (
Ghent, May 18, 1897Ghent, April 20, 1932) was a Belgian chess master, who pioneered the chess opening termed the Colle System.

The Colle System, 1. d4 d5, 2. Nf3 Nf6, 3. e3 followed by Bd3, c3, and Nbd2, is a form of reversed Semi-Slav opening. This system achieved the greatest use during the era from the late 1920s into the 1930s. Colle himself played the opening from 1925 until his death, scoring excellent results in major international tournaments (first in Amsterdam in 1926, ahead of Tartakower and future world champion Euwe; first in the tournament at Merano in 1926 ahead of Canal; and first in the tournament in Scarborough in 1930 (ahead of Maroczy and Rubinstein). Colle scored a number of notable successes with this opening, including a number of brilliancies (Colle - O'Hanlon, Nice 1930, featuring one of the best known example of a Greek gift sacrifice, is especially famous).

Because of its solid pawn structure, logical piece placement, and coherent strategic aims, this opening is often taught to new players as a safe and dependable way to reach a playable middlegame. Thus, the Colle System is frequently seen in amateur or scholastic tournaments, but it is not seen as often in professional play. This is often attributed to the fact that this system is safe but somewhat passive. According to modern opening theory, White can get a solid position but cannot force an edge against a well-prepared opponent.

The opening gained popularity, especially in the United States, through the efforts of Belgian/American grandmaster George Koltanowski who remained faithful to this system throughout his long career. He said he played it as a tribute to his friend Colle who died at a young age (in fact, it is sometimes referred to as the Colle-Koltanowski). The Colle System has been used in recent times by grandmasters Pia Cramling, Susan Polgar, and most notably Artur Yusupov, who prefers to play with b3 and a queenside fianchetto (this particular setup is known as the Colle-Zukertort).

Colle's playing career was hampered by ill health. He survived three difficult operations for a gastric ulcer and died after a fourth, at the age of 34.
Colle, standing 2nd left.

Edgar Colle was born in Gent, Belgium, in 1897. He won the Belgium championship in 1922, 1924 and 1926-1929. His international breakthrough was in Scheveningen 1923 before a.o. Euwe. In 1924, he came third in the unofficial Paris Olympiad.

1926 was perhaps his best year. He won in Amsterdam (before Tartakower and Euwe) and in Merano (before Spielmann, Tartakower, Yates.). Apart of these sucesses, he also managed to finish second in Weston Super Marne. Afterwards, he participated in many international tournaments. This resulted in a victory in Scarborough 1927, Hastings 1928/29, Scarborough 1930.

His health was not as good as his results; he survived three difficult operations, only to die as a result of the fourth. He is most known for the Colle-opening: 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.Bd3 c5.

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