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Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) e3 Before ...e6 in the Colle Zukertore or not (Read 8454 times)
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e3 Before ...e6 in the Colle Zukertore or not
09/08/08 at 04:17:20
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What follows an attempt to illustrate the move orders in the debate over the e3 before …e6 issue that has bubbled up in a couple of threads in the d-Pawn Specials Forum. At the very least the placement of the Colle Zukertorte order has been put in question. I hope I’ve clarified the parameters of this issue so some excellent chess minds can cast some light on whether …e6 before e3 really matters?  

Decisions about move orders and lines used in this repertoire file were made
using the "Selection to Book" feature and Big Database 2008. The moves chosen were those most commonly played in Big Database 2008. I've given move frequency percentages wherever I could do so. To me, this seems to be a practical approach to preparing an opening repertoire when strangers face one another across the board.

1.d4 d5

(You are more likely to enter a Queen's Indian Defense, a Barry Attack, or a Pirc Defense than a Colle Zukertorte structure after Black plays 1... Nf6 and after 2. Nf3:

(2... g6 is the most frequently played move here and occurs about forty-three percent of the time. Your Summerscale move here is 3.Nc3 Now you have a 63% chance of playing into a Barry Attack after 3…d5 and a
34% chance of entering a Pirc Defense via the common 3... Bg7 4. e4 or the
much less common 3... d6 4. e4 Bg7. You'll only see 3... c5 played here
9% of the time. After you play 4. d5 it's a transposition to the 3...g6
variation of the Schmidt Benoni.)

(2…e6 is played by Black only twenty-nine percent of the time. This is one entry gate to the Colle Zukertorte System outside the 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 move order. Note that Black plays e7-e6 before White plays e2-e3 here. What does this mean for White player who wants a Colle Zukertorte structure to appear on the board? I guess GM Prie would say -- and this is close to quoting him – that this move enables White to avoid 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 Bg4 transposing into a fashionable line of the Slav after 4.c4 c6 (See December 2003 update of D-Pawn Specials) or after 3.e3 Black could play 3...c6 more or less forcing 4.c4, under the threat of immediate, comfortable, equalization by Bf5 or Bg4, which is just an ordinary 'slow' Slav where Black has the supplementary choice of 4...Bf5, 4...a6, 4...e6. Now if White plays 3.e3 here we meet the criterion GM Prie sets down for us to follow, ie., ...e6 before e3. From my investigation, after this, the choice comes down to Colle Zukertorte or QID, 4.e3 Variation, but it is Black's choice, not White's. Black will only play d7-d5 here, entering the Colle structure, about fifteen percent of the time! To me this is one of the sticky points. It is Black who has the decision to enter the Colle Zukertorte regardless of whether e3 comes in first or second in the move order. If White abandons 3.e3 in the 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 move order, he automatically deprives himself of a thirty-five percent chance of entering the Colle Zukertorte! Is the Zukertorte offer, here, used only to significantly limit Black's options in the QID? Is this why someone called it a QID weapon?  More commonly, about fifty-two percent of the time, White will see 3…b6 being played. With this move Black is stubbornly stating his preference for the Queen's Indian Defense. Most of us will probably play along, in Colle Zukertorte fashion, looking for a chance to reach the non-theoretical main line of the QID, 4.e3 variation. (Black also plays 3... c5 thirty percent of the time here and now you have a very good chance to get the Colle Zukertorte pawn structure! Still, that choice is left up to Black. (4. Bd3 d5 is played fifty-six percent of the time here by 2100 players but 2300 players play (4...b6 angling for the QID. It may be they don't want to deal with all the possible Colle structures after 4...d5. My guess is that they must be placing their hope in the QID, 4.e3 Variation's reputation as being non-theoretical, and relatively tame. White can head for the main line of the QID 4.e3 variation with 5. O-O Bb7 6. c4 Be7 7. Nc3) 5. b3 and we have the Zukertorte structure.) 4. Bd3 Bb7 5. O-O Can the strong knowledgable players tell us if 5.Nbd2 gets us any nearer to a satisfactory Colle Zukertorte structure here or are we well past that now? Yusupov, our Colle Zukertorte guru, has played this move here so it looks like he has abandoned the Zukertorte here, at least on this occasion. We are following his game score. Castling here is also the general choice of the master chess players. 5… c5 is the common move here, played about 56 percent of the time. (Forty-two percent of the time 5... Be7 is played and you can steer for the main line with 6. c4.) 6. c4

2... d5 occurs 11% of the time. Now we are back to the same debate described below (ie., 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3)).

2.Nf3 Nf6
This seems to be the most deceptive move that Black can make for the CZ player.

GM Prie comments: Black played 1….d5 ! Therefore, I assume he is ready to play a queen pawn set-up. It is not as if he is reacting to 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.e3 with 2...d5... here.

My investigation in Big Database 2008 gives (2... g6 as the most common reply here. Now White can play for a Barry Attack, as seen in the Summerscale book, with 3. Nc3 etc.)

3. e3
Black is just as likely to see White play 3.Bf4 (13%) but 3.Bg5 appears on the board only 8% of the time. 3.c4 is the most frequently played move occuring over 50% of the time.    

GM Prie: Personally I will never do anything (ie. work in D-Pawn Specials) on such a ridiculous move [order as] 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 e6..." ).... I am absolutely not interested by the C-Z for either side. Incidentally I believe 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 c5 justifies White's previous move 4.dxc5 e6 5. c4 Bxc5 6.a3 QGA reversed. According to me, all this is NOT the spirit of the d pawn specials.

Then in another Forum GM Prie gave us this reminder : The CZ is
relevant only in the move order 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.e3.;   1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 Bg4 transposing into a fashionable line of the Slav after 4.c4 c6 (See December 2003 update) or 3...c6 more or less forcing 4.c4,  under the threat of immediate, comfortable, equalization by Bf5 or Bg4, which is just an ordinary 'slow' Slav where Black has the supplementary choice of 4...Bf5, 4...a6, 4...e6.

IM John Cox hopped in here, maybe to soften his colleague's
comment, with this : I think Eric's point was that 3...e6 is a ridiculous move,
[meaning] something like 3...c6 or 3 ...Bf5 being better (not a universal view,
clearly, but less offbeat than saying 3 e3 was ridiculous). But I suppose even Eric will agree that 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 is a move order which some strong players have been known to use, so the C-Z can arise 'legitimately'.  

GM Tony Kosten also passed on his opinion about this move order saying: Eric's [GM Prie] opinion is that 3...e6 is a weak move (which is true!) as instead Black can get a good game by bringing his light-squared bishop out.  

Now these are opinions from very strong players. There seems to be room for some debate here and, I for one, would like to hear all about it before investing more precious time into repertoire construction.

To prevent the usual static from the cruising posters, I need to construct some constraints around the argument here. This is an argument that does not entertain 3.c4 so those who want to participate in it should confine their thoughts to 3.e3, 3.Bf4, or 3.Bg5 or some other d-Pawn Special solution. From his work in D-Pawn Specials, I will have to assume GM Prie promotes 3.Bg5 here or 3.Bf4. (Maybe he can clarify this for us without resorting to 3.c4) In any case, when Black sees 3.e3 he knows White is handing out an invitation to play a Colle or a Colle Zukertorte. Black can accept by playing 3...e6 or decline the offer. However, Black declines the offer sixty-five percent of the time! Obviously acceptance (the difference) is 35%.

Who is willing to organize a tight argument to defend the legitimacy of 3.e3 or promote another D-Pawn Special solution? If so, there are some points I would like to see addressed:

1. Since the refusal rate is so high, what's in it for me if Black refuses my offer to play the Colle Zukertorte?
2. Will I have a lighter load going the 3.e3 route?;ie.,
a) What is the workload in 3.e3 compared to 3.Bg5?
b) What's the workload in 3.e3 compared to 3.Bf4?
3. If I abandon 3.e3 here and opt for another move, other than 3.c4, what should it be? Why? (Me, here, is the average amateur B,A, Expert Class player.)
4. What does the skeleton of your chosen repertoire look like? Could you explain your reasons for your move orders?

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