Edgard Colle: Caissa’s Wounded Warrior

Edgard Colle: Caissa's Wounded Warrior, Taylor Kingston. Russell Enterprises, 20th April 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859270
Edgard Colle: Caissa’s Wounded Warrior, Taylor Kingston. Russell Enterprises, 20th April 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859270

Edgard Colle: Caissa’s Wounded Warrior : Taylor Kingston

From the publisher:

“One of Caissa’s Brightest Stars!

Mention the name “Colle” and many if not most chessplayers think about an opening that is both easy to play as well as one with dynamic potential. Rarely is any thought given to the man himself.

Plug the word “Colle” into your favourite search engine, and, if you are lucky, you might find a reprint of the slim 1936 book by Fred Reinfeld, Colle’s Chess Masterpieces. Books on the Colle System – of which there are many – will be your main search results. However, Belgian master Edgard Colle is much more than a name connected to an opening system. He was one of the most dynamic and active chess players of the 1920s and early 1930s.

Though his international career lasted barely ten years, Colle played in more than 50 tournaments, as well as a dozen matches. Moreover, he played exciting and beautiful chess, full of life, vigour, imagination and creativity. As with such greats as Pillsbury and Charousek, it was a tragedy for the game that his life was cut short, at just age 34.

Author Taylor Kingston has examined hundreds of Colle’s games, in an effort to understand his skills and style, his strengths and weaknesses, and present an informed, balanced picture of him as a player.

Colle emerges as a courageous, audacious, and tenacious fighter, who transcended the limitations his frail body imposed, to battle the giants of his day and topple many of them. 110 of Colle’s best, most interesting, and representative games have been given deep and exacting computer analysis. This often revealed important aspects completely overlooked by earlier annotators, and overturned their analytical verdicts. But the computer’s iron logic is tempered always with a sympathetic understanding that Colle played, in the best sense, a very human kind of chess.

Though not intended as a tutorial on the Colle System, the book of course has many instructive examples of that opening. Additionally, there are several memorial tributes, biographical information about many of Colle’s opponents, his known tournament and match record, and all his available tournament crosstables. We invite the reader to get acquainted with this wounded but valiant warrior, whom Hans Kmoch called a “chess master with the body of a doomed man and the spirit of an immortal hero.” You are invited to explore the fascinating, fighting chess of one of the great tactical masters.”

Taylor Kingston
Taylor Kingston

“Taylor Kingston has been a chess enthusiast since his teens. His historical articles have appeared in many chess journals, including Chess Life, New In Chess, Inside Chess, and Kingpin. He is the editor of the recently released Emanuel Lasker: A Reader. In this book, he combines history and analysis in a new look at one of the early 20th century’s most variable but brightest stars.”

End of blurb

We recently reviewed the author’s first book, Emanuel Lasker: A Reader, A Zeal to Understand which has been well received.

Edgard (not Edgar) Colle’s name is well known to most chess players through his highly popular opening (of two main variants), The Colle System. You might argue that this was the club player’s opening of choice possibly usurped, in recent times, by the unfortunately ubiquitous London System.

However, rather unfairly, Colle himself is almost certainly not as well known as he deserves to be. Players of all levels really ought to take time to study his games with both colours since his attacking style is rather attractive and instructive.

The biographies section of the BCN library somewhat disappointingly only had one other book about Colle and that was the not-so-easy to obtain “Colle Plays The Colle System” by Adam Harvey published by Chess Enterprises in 2002.

Colle Plays The Colle System, Adam Harvey, Chess Enterprises, 2002, ISBN 0-945470-88-6
Colle Plays The Colle System, Adam Harvey, Chess Enterprises, 2002, ISBN 0-945470-88-6

but the above tome spends very little text on the master himself and only covers games with the white pieces and the Colle System.

Taylor Kingston’s book (also available as a Kindle eBook) is divided into two main parts as follows :

  1. Part I: Biographical Basics, Historical Background, Colleague’s Reminiscences and Memorial Tributes
  2. Part II: Annotated Games

and each of these is further sub-divided.

To see the extensive Table of Contents you may Look Inside the Kindle edition.

The book kicks off with a rather insightful Foreword from GM Andrew Soltis suggesting ECs lack of eminence stems from his premature early demise aged 34.

Pages 12 – 28 present biographical material from varied sources, some fairly obscure. We like obscure sources!

Fairly quickly (page 29) we find ourselves at Part II and the Annotated Games and this part, in turn, is divided into eleven sections with the following titles:

  1. Marvellous Miniatures
  2. An abundance of Brilliances
  3. Colle Lucks Out
  4. Follies, Failures, and Might-Have-Been
  5. Colle and the Endgame
  6. Colle and Positional Play
  7. Colle’s Fighting Games
  8. Salvaging the Draw
  9. Colle and Yates
  10. Colle’s Gem
  11. Swan Song

Each game is complete with historical background and context allowing one to learn more of Colle, his opponents and the tournaments they met at. The text is joyfully sprinkled with monochrome photographs of many opponents and potted biographies including that of Englishman George M. Norman (1880 – 1966) with whom we were unfamiliar until this book.

Follies, Failures, and Might-Have-Been” is particularly unusual since the author selects games where our hero goes astray and does not win in crushing fashion but loses himself providing a healthy balance. The opposition here includes players such as Euwe, Capablanca, Nimzovitsch, Vidmar and Tartakower so nothing to be ashamed of.

Colle and the Endgame” was another delightful chapter and perhaps not to be expected. Here is a game (here not annotated by TK but by Fred Reinfeld) from Budapest 1929 between Akiba Rubinstein and EC:

 

You will need to buy the book to appreciate the authors fuller annotations.

From the chapter “Colle’s Gem” we could not resist giving you this game but, again, without TKs superb annotations:

Wonderful stuff indeed but please enjoy the full author annotations.

In summary, this is a delightful book that all in the BCN office wanted to take home. In many ways this volume could of easily been a McFarland publication with a hard cover to be found in a library and all the gravitas that publisher brings. Hats off to Russell Enterprises for landing this one.

If you haven’t realised by now this one of our favourite books of 2021.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire 15th December 2021

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 272 pages
  • Publisher:  Russell Enterprises (20 April 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1949859274
  • ISBN-13: 978-1949859270
  • Product Dimensions: 15.24 x 1.27 x 22.86 cm

Official web site of Russell Enterprises

Edgard Colle: Caissa's Wounded Warrior, Taylor Kingston. Russell Enterprises, 20th April 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859270
Edgard Colle: Caissa’s Wounded Warrior, Taylor Kingston. Russell Enterprises, 20th April 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859270
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