The Chess Files
The answers are out there.
By Jim Eade
White moves first in chess, and that is an advantage. Many people have compared the advantage to having the serve in tennis. The question is: what do you do, if you don’t have a good serve?
Cole Erskine is an experienced tournament chess player, and he is very happy with his opening systems as Black, but he is less than comfortable with his openings as White. I can relate. As Black, you can prepare a response to White’s most common opening moves, but as White you have to prepare against any number of possible Black defenses. If you put in the work, you will get an advantage, but who has time to put in that much work?
Edgard Colle (1897-1932) many time champion of Belgian, solved this problem by adopting the same set up as White, regardless of what Black played. Today’s diagram illustrates his typical opening configuration. White plays the central pawns to d4, e3 and c3. The knights are developed to f3 and d2. The light square bishop is placed on d3, followed by castling. California’s greatest chess organizer, George Koltanowski, advocated for this system for decades.
The primary problem with this configuration of pieces is the lackluster prospect for the dark square bishop on c1. White has a hard time getting that piece to an effective square. That is why I prefer what is called the London System. White develops the bishop first by playing 1.d4 and 2.Bf4 and then arranges the pieces according to the Colle System. This secures all of the positive attributes of the Colle, without suffering its drawbacks. If you want a decent opening system as White, without having to spend hours of study time to perfect it, I recommend the London System.