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I’m a fairly new player, with a FIDE rating of around 1000. I'm really wondering what’s wrong with this opening. It’s the Indian variation of the Nimzo-Larsen, but it’s a different line.

I like to play b3, Bb2 e3, d4, Bd3, Nf3, and Qe2, along with a3 or h3 if a knight threatens to go to b4 or g4. At this point, I’m ready to castle either way and enjoy a solid position. Of course, it doesn’t always go like this. Sometimes the order changes according to my opponent's play. But it seems really solid to me. Since it’s not a recognized line as far as I know, I want to know how to play against it.

[FEN "r2q1rk1/1bpn1pp1/pp1bpn1p/3p4/3P4/PP1BPN1P/1BPNQPP1/R3K2R w KQ - 0 1"]
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    To clarify, are you wondering how to beat White in this opening? – D M Feb 1 at 3:48
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    I believe he just set up both sides the same way as an example of his setup. Jake, you can't always play the same regardless of what the opponent does, and answers are going to depend on the position of the opponent. The setup is close to the "Colle-Zukertort" opening with some extra moves that may or may not be pointless depending. – RemcoGerlich Feb 1 at 8:10
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This is a recognised opening. It's the Colle-Zukertort opening by transposition. The normal move-order for White is d4, e3, Bd3, Nf3, Nbd2 this is the Colle System, then b3, Bb2 to end up with this structure.

In the Colle, White breaks open the centre with the freeing move e3-e4 and gains piece play on the kingside which can turn into a king-side attack. White normally uses the e5-square for the knight in a Pillsbury/Stonewall style by following up with f2-f4. The bishop on b2 can come to life later on if Black tries to free himself with .. c5 or ... e5

With the g6-square weakened because of Black's ... h5, White has the plan of Ne5, f4, f5 threatening to exchange on e6 and now there's a hole on g6.

A quieter alternative is for White to play positionally with c2-c4 and after exchanging on d5 playing down the c-file.

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  • Thank you for your reply! I will study up and look into c4. I had no clue it was a recognized opening. – Jake Feb 1 at 17:01
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I guess the main thing "wrong" with the opening is that it doesn't press for an advantage. Stockfish at a depth of 22 gives the position above a -0.03, which is essentially equal. That's not surprising, since the position is almost symmetrical, except White has played a3 instead of castling.

The bishop on b2 has a very limited scope, and White does not control much space and isn't really attacking anything.

I'd say you shouldn't be so eager to prevent Nb4 or Ng4 unless there's a particular reason. If you wait to play a6 or h6 until after they play such a move, then they waste a move putting the knight back. But if you play it before it's necessary, then you're the one wasting a move. Also, a pawn on a3 or h3 can be a target in some positions. As it is, you've essentially given Black a tempo.

If I were Black in such a position, I'd be seriously considering a c5 push. (In fact, I may have already played it, since I wouldn't have wasted a move with h6.) Trading my c-pawn for White's e-pawn seems like a good idea if I can, since it gives me more center control, plus a half-open c-file which I could put a rook on. And opening the position somewhat when I'm slightly ahead in development doesn't seem to be a bad idea either.

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  • Thank you so much for the ideas! I will be studying more. – Jake Feb 1 at 17:02

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