Playing 1.d4 for juniors

This could be a short handout, of just one word: "Don't!" But you know I won't stop at one word when a couple of thousand will probably do.

Part I - for starters

Most people suggest that beginning chessplayers should play 1.e2-e4 and aim for a open, attacking style of game.

Some players may like to try 1.d2-d4. I wrote this piece after I watched 3 out of 4 boards at a match open with 1. d2-d4, and in my opinion, played it poorly.

Why might you want to play 1.d2-d4?

F because you are curious

F because it seems safer and more solid than 1. e2-e4

F because people won't expect it

F because I told you not to...

Let's look at it more seriously then, and see what we think.

 

How many people play 1.d2-d4 (stodgily)

After 1. d2-d4, how should you place your pieces? One system of development that looks quite reasonable starts with the Bishops: your Queen's Bishop can go to f4, then you play e2-e3, and develop the King's Bishop. So:

d2-d4, Ng1-f3, Bc1-f4, e2-e3, Bf1-d3, O-O, Nb1-d2

-+-P-B-+
+-PBPN+-
PP-N-PPP
R-+QK-+R

This is called the London system . It's a perfectly solid system, which masters can pay for a win. But I have a feeling that this is not a great way for juniors to play. Most of them I think would find this rather too slow and dull, everything gets bogged down, and often neither side can come up with any ideas of how to win and would have to rely on their opponent overlooking something to win. If you are much better than a beginner, and you like this style of playing, then you can have a go for either side, but my advice is: stick to 1. e2-e4!

How should you play the London system as White or Black? Black often develops their Bishops on f5 and d6. Because White is going to take a few moves to achieve Bf1-d3, Black may play ...Bc8-f5 first, and the light-squared Bishops come off. Also, Black will often challenge the Bc1-f4 with ...Bf8-d6, and the dark-squared Bishops also come off. We then have a slow game with Knights and Queens.

r+-+-rk+
pppn+ppp
-+-qpn-+
+-+p+-+-
-+-P-+-+
+-PQPN+-
PP-N-PPP
R-+-+RK-

The first thing to do if you get into this sort of position (whether you are White or Black) is to open up a file for your Rooks . As Black, you may not be able to achieve ...e7-e5 very quickly, but it is likely that you can play ...c7-c5. So one good rule for playing Black in these openings is for you to play ...c7-c5 at some point. This means that your Queen's Knight should not be placed straightaway at c6 in front of the c-Pawn, but instead go to c6 only after ...c7-c5. Another idea is to play ...Nb8-d7, which actually supports the ...c7-c5 break.

 

How you should play 1.d2-d4 (open)

The reason that games with 1.d2-d4 are called "closed" is because the positions are often slow with few open lines. After 1. e2-e4 e7-e5 , all the major openings set out to achieve the advance d2-d4 for White. We can play it straight away ( 2. d2-d4 , the Centre Game ) or after 2. Ng1-f3 Nb8-c6 3. d2-d4 (the Scotch Game ). Perhaps the best way is to prepare the advance with c2-c3 as in the Giuoco Piano 1. e2-e4 e7-e5 2. Ng1-f3 Nb8-c6 3. Bf1-c4 Bc8-c5 4. c2-c3 Ng8-f6 5. d2-d4 ) or Ruy Lopez 1. e2-e4 e7-e5 2. Ng1-f3 Nb8-c6 3. Bf1-b5 a7-a6 4. Bb5-a4 Ng8-f6 5. O-O Bf8-e7 6. Rf1-e1 b7-b5 7. Ba4-b3 O-O 8. c2-c3 d7-d6 9. h2-h3 Nb8-d7 10. d2-d4 White could also play d2-d4 on moves 5 or 9).

But after 1. d2-d4 it's not obvious how to achieve e2-e4 . Obviously White can just play 2.c2-c4 , which is the famous Queen's Gambit. But there is another system, named after the Belgian master Colle, which specifically aims at e2-e4 and also leads to a nice open game. If juniors do want to play 1.d2-d4 I always tell them about this system.

The idea is:

1. d2-d4 2. Ng1-f3 3. e2-e3!

This does block in the Bc1 but doesn't mean to leave it that way. Continue:

4. Bf1-d3 5. Nb1-d2 6. O-O 7. Rf1-e1 (of course, Black usually moves too!)

rnbqkb-r
ppp-pppp
-+-+-n-+
+-+p+-+-
-+-P-+-+
+-PBPN+-
PP-N-PPP
R-BQR-K-

8. e2-e4!

Now White has good development and will get open lines for the pieces. Like this:


Colle - Buerger [D05] Hastings - (0.158), 1928

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e3 e6 4.Bd3 Be7 5.Nbd2 0-0 6.0-0 Nbd7 7.e4 dxe4 8.Nxe4 Nxe4 9.Bxe4 Nf6 10.Bd3 c5 11.dxc5 Bxc5 12.Bg5 Be7 13.Qe2 Qc7 14.Rad1 Rd8 15.Ne5 Bd7 16.Bxh7+ Kxh7 17.Bxf6 Bxf6 18.Qh5+ Kg8 19.Qxf7+ Kh7 20.Rd3 1-0

If you like the look of this, I have some notes on this system tucked away somewhere.

How you can play 1. d2-d4 (expertly)

The main Queen's-Pawn openings usually are based around playing c2-c4 rather than e2-e4. In the Queen's Gambit after 1.d2-d4 d7-d5 White puts pressure on the Black centre with 2.c2-c4 and later can play a Rook to the c-file, which is likely to be opened.

When you know a bit more about how to play with each piece, the Queen's Gambit is a fine opening to play, but by the time you know enough to play the Queen's Gambit well, your opponent's may start avoiding 1. d2-d4 d7-d5 by playing one of the Indian Defences 1. d2-d4 Ng8-f6 . Now there's an idea: you mean, I don't have to go through all this London system stuff? Right! You can play the Black side of the London system or the Colle to win if you fancy it, but you might prefer to have something a little spicier. Not an Indian Defence, but the Dutch Defence

 

How to avoid the Queen's Pawn game if you think your opponent plays stodgily.

The Dutch Defence is one of the oldest and most aggressive defences to the Queen's Pawn opening. It goes:

1. d2-d4 f7-f5

Now White has several ways of continuing. If White knows a bit of theory they may know that one of the best ways to play for White is to play a set-up with:

1. d2-d4 2. c2-c4 3. Ng1-f3 4. g2-g3 5. Bf1-g2 6. O-O

After this Black has three systems:

Leningrad system:1...f7-f5 2...Ng8-f6 3...g7-g6 4...Bf8-g7 5...O-O 6...d7-d6

Classical system: 1...f7-f5 2...Ng8-f6 3...e7-e6 4...Bf8-e7 5...O-O 6...d7-d6

Stonewall system: 1...f7-f5 2...Ng8-f6 3...e7-e6 4...Bf8-e7 5...O-O 6...d7-d5

In each system Black gets a flexible development with chances of a King's-side attack. If you fancy this idea, I have tucked away some notes on the Stonewall system

-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+p+p+-+
+-np+p+-
pp-bn+pp
+kr-qb+r

The Stonewall formation is aggressive but as you can tell from its name, it is also quite solid. White cannot hope to make a quick raid on Black's position, while the f5 pawn is a beach-head for your King's-side attack. Ideas for Black include:

­ play ...Qe8 and ...Qh4

­ play ...Kh8, ...Rg8 and ...g5

­ play ...Ne4 and ...Ndf6

­ re-organise your bishops with ...Be7-d6 or ...Bd7-e8-h4

Of course, you can combine these ideas. Here's a couple of example games from an early Dutch fan, Mikhail Botvinnik, who later became World Champion.


Abramovic,G - Botvinnik,M [A85] Soviet Union, 1924

1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 b6 5.Bg5 Be7 6.e3 Bb7 7.Bd3 0-0 8.0-0 Ne4 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Rc1 Na6 11.a3 Rf6 12.Qa4 Nxc3 13.Rxc3 Bxf3 14.Qxa6 Rg6 15.g3 Qg5 16.Re1 Qh5 17.e4

+-----------------+
|r+.+.+k+|
|0.0p+.0p|
|Q0.+p+r+|
|+.+.+p+q|
|.+P)P+.+|
|).$B+b).|
|.).+.).)|
|+.+.$.I.|
+-----------------+

17...Qxh2+ 0-1

18.Kxh2 Rh6+ 19.Kg1 Rh1#

Steiner Herman - Botvinnik M [A95/12] Ch Europe (juniors), Groningen (Netherl, 1946

1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Nc3 0-0 7.Qc2 d5 8.Nf3 c6 9.0-0 Qe8 10.Bf4 Qh5 11.Rae1 Nbd7 12.Nd2 g5 13.Bc7 Ne8 14.Be5 Nxe5 15.dxe5 f4 16.gxf4 gxf4 17.Nf3 Kh8 18.Kh1 Ng7 19.Qc1 Bd7 20.a3 Rf7 21.b4 Rg8 22.Rg1 Nf5 23.Nd1 Rfg7 24.Qxf4 Rg4 25.Qd2 Nh4 26.Ne3 Nxf3 27.exf3 Rh4 28.Nf1 Bg5 0-1

+-----------------+
|.+.+.+ri|
|0p+b+.+p|
|.+p+p+.+|
|+.+p).gq|
|.)P+.+.4|
|).+.+P+.|
|.+.!.)B)|
|+.+.$N$K|
+-----------------+

Bg5-f4xh2 is on its way.

If White hasn't met the Dutch defence before, it's likely they will just play their usual old moves: the London system, the classical system or a Gambit.

The London system d2-d4, Ng1-f3, Bc1-f4 is just asking for Black to play ...d7-d6 and ...e7-e5, with a good game.

If White plays a classical Queen's Pawn game with d2-d4 c2-c4 Ng1-f3 Nb1-c3 Bc1-g5 e2-e3 Bf1-d3 Black can get a good game with normal Dutch moves:

1.d4 f5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 0-0 6.Bd3 b6 7.Nge2 Bb7 8.0-0 Nh5 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Ng3 Nxg3 11.hxg3 d6 12.f4 Nc6= (0-1,54) Harrwitz,D - Morphy,P (5) Paris match, 1858

1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 f5 3.c4 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nc3 0-0 6.e3 b6 7.Bd3 Bb7 8.0-0 Qe8 9.Qe2 Ne4 10.Bxe7 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Qxe7 12.a4 Bxf3 13.Qxf3 Nc6 14.Rfb1 Rae8 =+ (1-0,52)


Capablanca,Jose - Tartakower,Savielly [A40] New York (06), 1924
. White went on to win this famous ending, but according to Robert Bellin, sometime British Champion and longtime Dutch defender, Black has the advantage because of his better Pawn structure.

If you are interested in these lines, or the various gambits...

e.g. Karayannis-Bellin 1993 : 1. d4 e6 2. c4 f5 3. e4

rnbqkbnr
pppp+-pp
-+-+p+-+
+-+-+p+-
-+PPP+-+
+-+-+-+-
PP-+-PPP
RNBQKBNR

....then I have some notes on the ways White can avoid the Dutch main lines

Part II- The theory of playing against 1.d2-d4

+-----------------+
|rhb1kgn4|
|0p0.0p0p|
|.+.+.+.+|
|+.+p+.+.|
|.+.).+.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|P)P+P)P)|
|$NGQIBHR|
+-----------------+

II-A: Systems with c2-c4

Just as in the 1.e2-e4 openings, it is possible for White to play mainly with pieces in the opening, hoping to save time by not moving any more Pawns. But just as in the 1.e2-e4 openings like Old Stodge , it is hard to stop Black getting easy equality without hitting at the Black centre with Pawns, giving them something to worry about.

+-----------------+
|rhb1kgn4|
|0p0p+p0p|
|.+.+.+.+|
|+.+.0.+.|
|.+.+P+.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|P)P).)P)|
|$NGQIBHR|
+-----------------+

After 1.e2-e4 e7-e5, White cannot be prevented from playing d2-d4, which White can do straightaway (in the Scotch Game) or after c2-c3 (Giuoco Piano and Ruy Lopez).

+-----------------+
|rhb1kgn4|
|0p0.0p0p|
|.+.+.+.+|
|+.+p+.+.|
|.+.).+.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|P)P+P)P)|
|$NGQIBHR|
+-----------------+

But in the 1.d2-d4 d7-d5 openings, it looks like e2-e4 and c2-c4 just lose a Pawn. So juniors and even adult club players often like to play it slow and safe and simple, just getting their pieces out, keeping the centre closed and hoping to arrange a King's-side attack.

White hopes that because the centre is likely to remain closed, Black will find it hard to disturb the White build-up. Black must either swap off the attacking pieces, and/or upset the White centre.

White can always play e2-e4 as a gambit (The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit ). Also, the c4 point is easy to guard with the Bc1, and so White can play 2.c2-c4, the Queen's Gambit , believing that Black will find it hard to get away with snatching the c-Pawn. We will look at all of these systems for White, with and without c2-c4.

All of these openings are dangerous if you don't know what your opponent is trying to do. But only the Queen's Gambit is really strong enough for Grandmasters.

The Queen's Gambit

1. d4 d5 2. c4

+-----------------+
|rhb1kgn4|
|0p0.0p0p|
|.+.+.+.+|
|+.+p+.+.|
|.+P).+.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|P).+P)P)|
|$NGQIBHR|
+-----------------+

The idea behind the opening

I keep saying that it is difficult to put real pressure on your opponent's game without using a Pawn to hit at your opponent's central Pawns. In the Queen's Gambit, White does this straight away.

In gambit openings, White hopes that Black will waste time taking and trying to hold on to the Pawn. In the Queen's Gambit, this is a better idea than usual, since Black cannot hold on to the Pawn at all!

2...dxc4 3. e3 b5 4. a4 c6 5. axb5 cxb5 6.Qf3! +-

Black can try other moves to hang on to the Pawn, but they are all more trouble than the Pawn is worth! So, Black should not try to hang on to the Pawn, but aim to hit back in the centre:

3. e3 e5! or 3.e3 c5!

Now, White need not scramble to get back the Pawn but should try to hold on in the centre. A common sequence is:

3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 c5 5. Bxc4 e6 6. O-O

+-----------------+
|rhb1kg.4|
|0p+.+p0p|
|.+.+ph.+|
|+.0.+.+.|
|.+B).+.+|
|+.+.)N+.|
|P).+.)P)|
|$NGQ+RI.|
+-----------------+

How to play against this opening

If you fancy the "accept then hit back" approach, then this Queen's Gambit Accepted line is easy to learn:

  • You should exchange on d4 to give White an isolated d-Pawn.
  • You should play ...Nbd7-b6-d5 to stop the d-Pawn advancing.
  • You should put pressure on the d-Pawn, to tie White's pieces down to defence.
  • You should aim for exchanging pieces, especially the light-squared Bishop, leaving White in a poor endgame, like this one

+-----------------+
|.+.+.i.+|
|+p+.+p0p|
|p+.+b+.+|
|+.+p+.+.|
|.+.H.+.+|
|+.+.).+.|
|P).+.)P)|
|+.I.+.+.|
+-----------------+

With colours reversed, this is the classic 'bad Bishop' endgame with an isolated Queen's-Pawn, from a famous Flohr-Capablanca game. Black just managed to hold on, but had a struggle! White can try little tricks on either side of the board, or try to slide the King in on the unprotected dark squares, but Black can only sit and suffer. So, playing Black against the Queen's Gambit, this is what you can hope to get to.

Example game


Salwe,G - Rubinstein,A [D26] Lodz, 1907

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 dxc4 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e3 c5 6.Bxc4 Nc6 7.0-0 cxd4 8.exd4 Be7 9.Bf4 0-0 10.Qd2 b6 11.Rfd1 Nb4 12.Qe2 Bb7 13.Ne5 Nbd5 14.Bg3 Rc8 15.Rac1...

+-----------------+
|.+r1.4k+|
|0b+.gp0p|
|.0.+ph.+|
|+.+nH.+.|
|.+B).+.+|
|+.H.+.G.|
|P).+Q)P)|
|+.$R+.I.|
+-----------------+

Now Rubinstein changed the Pawn structure with 15...Nxc3, and went on to win with pressure against the c- and d-Pawns and using the Bishop on the long diagonal.

 

Swiss Defence

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 O-O 6. Nf3 Nbd7 7. Rc1 a6

+-----------------+
|r+b1.4k+|
|+p0ngp0p|
|p+.+ph.+|
|+.+p+.G.|
|.+P).+.+|
|+.H.)N+.|
|P).+.)P)|
|+.$QIB+R|
+-----------------+

The idea behind the opening

The Swiss Defence is a way of declining the Queen's Gambit. Black develops quietly to start with, but is just ready to uncoil. If White plays the automatic

8.Bd3,

Black hits back with

8...dxc4! 9. Bxc4 b5! 10. Bd3 c5!

In another famous Capablanca game, Black (Alekhin) had an easy time after reaching this position:

+-----------------+
|r+.1.4k+|
|+b+ngp0.|
|p+.+ph.0|
|+p0.+.+.|
|.+.).+.G|
|).H.)N+.|
|.).+B)P)|
|+.$Q+RI.|
+-----------------+

I won't give the whole game because it is rather long.

How to play this opening

White may see this Queen's-side counter-punch coming. There are two tries for White:

8. cxd5 (The Carlsbad variation - see below) or:

8. c5

After 8. c5 Black should stop the c-Pawn

8...c6

then hit back:

9.b4

9...a5! 10.a3 axb4 11.axb4 b6 12.Bd3 bxc5 13.bxc5 e5 14.Nxe5

(14.dxe5 Ne8=;

14.Bxf6 Bxf6 15.dxe5 Nxe5 16.Nxe5 Bxe5 17.Bxh7+ Kxh7 18.Qh5+ Kg8 19.Qxe5 Ba6! with compensation)

14...Nxe5 15.dxe5 Nd7 16.Bxe7 Qxe7 17.Qc2 Qh4 18.0-0 Nxe5 19.Be2 Ba6 20.Bxa6 Rxa6 21.Ra1 Qc4=

9.Bd3: see example game

Example game


Blodstein,B - Ziatdinov,R (2455) [D63] UZB-ch (9), 1993

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Rc1 a6 8.c5 c6 9.Bd3 e5!

+-----------------+
|r+b1.4k+|
|+p+ngp0p|
|p+p+.h.+|
|+.)p0.G.|
|.+.).+.+|
|+.HB)N+.|
|P).+.)P)|
|+.$QI.+R|
+-----------------+

10.Nxe5

[10.dxe5 Ne8 11.Bf4;

10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.dxe5 Be7!]

10...Nxe5 11.dxe5 Nd7 12.Bf4 Bxc5 13.h4 Re8 14.Bb1 Bf8 15.Qc2 g6 16.h5 Nxe5 17.hxg6 hxg6 18.Qd1 Bg7 19.Kf1 Qf6 20.Ne2 Bf5 21.Ng3 Bxb1 22.Rxb1 Rad8 23.Qd4 Nc4 0-1

 

QGD with 5.Bf4

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. Bf4

+-----------------+
|rhb1k+.4|
|0p0.gp0p|
|.+.+ph.+|
|+.+p+.+.|
|.+P).G.+|
|+.H.+N+.|
|P).+P)P)|
|$.+QIB+R|
+-----------------+

The idea behind the opening

This is a proper Grandmaster opening and so you will not be able to bash out moves without thinking and expect to get an equal game (as if you ever can!)

How to play against this opening

The usual ideas of developing sensibly then hitting back in the centre are the right recipe here.

4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 (we've developed sensibly, so...) 6...c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Qc2 Nc6 9.Rd1 Qa5 10.a3 Be7 11.Nd2 e5 12.Bg5 d4 13.Nb3 Qd8 =

Example game


Jussupow,A (2635) - Kortschnoj,V (2630) [D37] Tilburg, 1987

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Qc2 Nc6 9.Rd1 Qa5 10.a3 Be7 11.Nd2 e5 12.Bg5 d4 13.Nb3 Qd8 14.Be2 a5 15.Na4 Ng4 16.Bxe7 Qxe7 17.exd4 Qh4 18.Bxg4 Bxg4 19.Rd2 exd4 20.0-0 Rad8 21.Nac5 d3 22.Qc3 Be2 23.Re1 a4 24.Nxa4 Rfe8 25.h3 Ne5 26.Rdxe2 dxe2 27.Nc1 b5 28.Nb6 Rd1 29.Nxe2 Nf3+ 30.gxf3 Rxe2 0-1

 

Exchange variation

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. cxd5

+-----------------+
|rhb1kgn4|
|0p0.+p0p|
|.+.+.+.+|
|+.+p+.+.|
|.+.).+.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|P).+P)P)|
|$NGQIBHR|
+-----------------+

This is the classic Exchange, but there is a variation that comes out of the Swiss Defence.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 O-O 6. Nf3 Nbd7 7. Rc1 a6 8.cxd5 exd5

+-----------------+
|r+b1.4k+|
|+p0ngp0p|
|p+.+.h.+|
|+.+p+.G.|
|.+.).+.+|
|+.H.)N+.|
|P).+.)P)|
|+.$QIB+R|
+-----------------+

This variation, from the Swiss Defence, is known as the Carlsbad Variation.

The idea behind the opening

White simplifies the centre, hoping to make use of slightly more active pieces and the open c-file. In the main Exchange Variation, White often plays Rab1 and pushes the b-Pawn, but in the Carlsbad Variation, this would waste time.

How to play against this opening

In the main line Exchange, Black can play a quick ...Bf5; in the Carlsbad, Black is more likely to head for a normal King's-side counterattack.

Example game


Soares - Moindrot [D65] corr ol, 1945

1.d4 e6 2.c4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Nf3 0-0 7.Rc1 a6 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bd3 c6 10.Qc2 Re8 11.0-0 Nf8 12.Ne5 N6d7 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.Nxd7 Bxd7 15.Na4 Qg5 16.Nc5 Bg4 17.Nxb7 Bf3 18.g3 Qh5 19.Rfe1 Re6 20.Bf1 Rh6 21.h4 Ng6 22.Qxc6 Rf8 0-1

 

Semi-Slav Systems

...d5,...e6 and ...c6

+-----------------+
|rhb1kgn4|
|0p+.+p0p|
|.+p+p+.+|
|+.+p+.+.|
|.+P).+.+|
|+.H.+.+.|
|P).+P)P)|
|$.GQIBHR|
+-----------------+

The ideas behind the opening

  • First, Black sets up a little fortress in the centre, and develops at least a few pieces.
  • Then, Black must release the Bc8 and open up a file for the Rooks. So Black must play either ...c7-c5 or ...e6-e5, perhaps first playing ...dxc4 so that Black doesn't get left with an isolated d-Pawn

+-----------------+
|r+b1r+k+|
|0p+n+p0p|
|.+pgph.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|.+B).+.+|
|+.H.)N+.|
|P).+.)P)|
|$.GQI.+R|
+-----------------+
Black ready for ...e7-e5!

  • Black has already played ...c6 which can support ...b5. This gives two ideas:
  1. Quickly play ...dxc4 and ..b7-b5, to try and hang on to the c-Pawn.
  2. Wait until White has moved the Bf1 somewhere, then make it waste a move or two by ...dxc4, Bcx4, ...b7-b5! Black can then play ...c7-c5 and ...Bc8-b7, giving the Bishop a nice long diagonal.

+-----------------+
|rhb1kgn4|
|0.+.+p0p|
|.+p+p+.+|
|+p+.+.+.|
|.+p).+.+|
|+.H.+N+.|
|P).+P)P)|
|$.GQIB+R|
+-----------------+
Grabbing the c-Pawn - risky!

+-----------------+
|r+b1.4k+|
|+.+ngp0p|
|p+p+ph.+|
|+p+.+.+.|
|.+B).+.+|
|+.H.)N+.|
|P).+.)P)|
|$.GQIB+R|
+-----------------+
Hitting the Bishop after ....dxc4: follow up with Bb7 and c7-c5

How to play this opening

I can't promise that players of d2-d4 will rattle out the same moves game after game like e4 Nf3 Bc4 d3...

There are several lines where the Semi-Slav is seen:

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 e6 or

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c6

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 dxc4

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 Bb4

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 Bd6

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4

and if you play the Dutch:

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e3 f5!? [4.Nf3 f5?! is less good because of 5.Bf4, seizing control of e5]

Example games:

Here's a "grab the c-Pawn" game, although you can see the risks Black takes in the centre:


Collas,D (2280) - Flear,G (2495) [D31] Paris (3), 1992

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.a4 Bb4 6.e3 b5 7.Bd2 a5 8.axb5 Bxc3 9.Bxc3 cxb5 10.b3 Bb7 11.bxc4 b4 12.Bb2 Nf6 13.Bd3 Nbd7 14.Qc2 Qc7 15.0-0 0-0 16.Rfc1 Rfc8 17.e4 e5 18.c5 exd4 19.Bxd4 Qc6 20.Nh4 g6 21.f3 a4 22.Qd2 b3 23.e5 Nh5 24.Be4 Qb5 25.e6 Bxe4 26.exd7 Qxd7 27.fxe4 a3 28.Qf2 Nf4 29.Rd1 Qg4 30.Kh1 b2 31.Rab1 a2 32.Qxb2 axb1Q 33.Rxb1 Qxh4 34.g3 Qd8 35.gxf4 Rcb8 0-1

And the other ideas can be seen in this shortie:


Samisch,F - Capablanca,J [D46] Moskva (18), 1925

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.d4 e6 3.c4 d5 4.Nc3 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 a6 7.0-0 dxc4 8.Bxc4 b5 9.Bd3 c5 10.Qe2 Bb7 11.Rd1 Qc7 12.e4 cxd4 13.Nxd4 Bc5 14.Nb3 Bd6 15.h3 b4 16.Nb1 Ne5 17.Bf4 0-0 18.Bxe5 Bxe5 19.N1d2 Bxb2 20.Rab1 Bc3 21.Nc4 a5 22.e5 Nd7 23.Bxh7+ Kxh7 24.Qd3+ Kg8 25.Qxd7 Qxc4 26.Qxb7 a4 27.Nd2 Qxa2 28.Nf3 Qe2 0-1

 

Catalan Opening

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. g3

+-----------------+
|rhb1kgn4|
|0p0.+p0p|
|.+.+p+.+|
|+.+p+.+.|
|.+P).+.+|
|+.+.+.).|
|P).+P).)|
|$NGQIBHR|
+-----------------+

The idea behind the opening

This is a slow, rather tricky system to play against. White hopes to keep Black under pressure and uncoil slowly.

How to play against this opening

If you like the "grab the c-Pawn" strategy in the Semi-Slav, it looks even better here with White having moved the Bishop off the f1-a6 diagonal.

Example game


Gostisa,L (2410) - Burmakin,V (2530) [D31] Bled op, 1994

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.g3 b5 6.Bg2 Bb7 7.a4 a6 8.0-0 Nd7 9.e4 Ngf6 10.Qe2 Be7 11.Rd1 0-0 12.Bf4 Re8 13.Ne1 Qb6 14.g4 Nf8 15.g5 N6d7 16.Qg4 Ng6 17.Be3 c5 18.d5 Nde5 19.Qg3 b4 20.a5 Qc7 21.Na4 exd5 22.exd5 Bd6 23.Nb6 Nd3 24.Nxa8 Bxa8 0-1

 

II-B: Systems without c2-c4

These systems usually emphasise piece play rather than pressure on the centre with Pawns. White has a standard attacking plan which can walk straight through you if you aren't careful. I'll show you one game to worry you, then lots more to show you what to do about these systems.


Burgess Graham - Johannesson Larus (8) [A46] It, 1995

1. d4 e6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bg5 Be7 4. Nbd2 d5 5. e3 O-O 6. Bd3 b6 7. Ne5 c5 8. c3 Qc7 9. f4 Bb7 10. Qf3 h6 11. h4 Nc6 12. Rh3

+-----------------+
|r+.+.4k+|
|0b1.gp0.|
|.0n+ph.0|
|+.0pH.G.|
|.+.).).)|
|+.)B)Q+R|
|P).H.+P+|
|$.+.I.+.|
+-----------------+

'Normal' moves from Black have allowed White to set up a favourable 'Stonewall' formation with the dark-squared Bishop outside the Pawn chain. With the centre closed, White shuffles pieces over to the King's-side and mugs the King.

12... Nxe5 13. fxe5 Ne4 14. Nxe4 dxe4 15. Bxe4 Bxe4 16. Qxe4 Qd8 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 18. O-O-O c4 19. Rf1 b5

+-----------------+
|r+.+.4k+|
|0.+.1p0.|
|.+.+p+.0|
|+p+.).+.|
|.+p)Q+.)|
|+.).).+R|
|P).+.+P+|
|+.I.+R+.|
+-----------------+

It's not the f7-Pawn that is to be attacked but the King. "His fortress becomes a prison", says Tony Dempsey.

20. Rf6 Kh8 21. Rg3 b4 22. Qf4 bxc3 23. Qxh6+ 1-0

Point made, I hope. Normal developing moves can lead to trouble - so you need plan!

In these systems, White often develops the dark-squared Queen's Bishop early on, but first we will look at a popular system which does just the opposite - it apparently locks in the Bishop forever!

Colle System

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3.e3

+-----------------+
|rhb1kg.4|
|0p0.0p0p|
|.+.+.h.+|
|+.+p+.+.|
|.+.).+.+|
|+.+.)N+.|
|P)P+.)P)|
|$NGQIB+R|
+-----------------+

The idea behind the opening

Now, White does know that the Bc1 must be got out, but will do so later on.

White wants to play the difficult e2-e4, so sets about it in two stages - first, developing pieces around the e4 point, with Bd3, Nbd2, and Re1 or Qe2, and only then breaking with e3-e4, hoping that the White pieces will ambush Black.

How to play against this opening

It is not hard to guess that after e2-e3 White wants to play Bd3. So

3...Bf5

is a nice awkward move, when

4. Bd3 e6!

Is another nice awkward move (Alekhin).

The only way to be awkward back is

4. c4 e6 5. Qb3

but Black can cope with this - White's Bishops are not well-placed to attack. Here

5...Qb6

looks OK, or keep Queens on with

5...Qc8

Example game


Mellen,S - Jarosz,S [D12] Lansing,MI Jan mini, 1990

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.e3 Bf5 4.c4 e6 5.Nc3 c6 6.Qb3 Qc8 7.Bd2 Nbd7 8.Rc1 Qb8 9.Be2 Bd6 10.0-0 h6 11.h3 0-0 12.cxd5 exd5 13.Na4 Re8 14.Bb4 Bc7 15.Nc5 Nxc5 16.dxc5 Ne4 17.Nd4 Bd7 18.Bd3 Qc8 19.Qc2 Bxh3 20.Bxe4 Rxe4 21.gxh3 Qxh3 22.f3 Re5 23.f4 Rxe3 24.Rf2 Bxf4 25.Nf5 Re4 26.Bd2 Qxf5 27.Bxf4 Qg4+ 0-1

 

London System

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4

+-----------------+
|rhb1kg.4|
|0p0.0p0p|
|.+.+.h.+|
|+.+p+.+.|
|.+.).G.+|
|+.+.+N+.|
|P)P+P)P)|
|$N+QIB+R|
+-----------------+

The idea behind the opening

White is developing smoothly and has some control over the dark squares in the centre. White can play on either side of the board, if allowed. So this is quite a sound, flexible system, and needs some care to play against.

How to play against this opening

As I described above, Black should develop sensibly and look to open lines for Rooks.

Example game


Gross,R - Hoenig,A [D02] NRW-I, 1990

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4 Bf5 4.c3 e6 5.e3 Bd6 6.Bg3 0-0 7.Bd3 Bxd3 8.Qxd3 c5 9.Nbd2 Nc6 10.0-0 a5 11.a4 Ra6 12.Rad1 Bxg3 13.hxg3 cxd4 14.exd4 Rb6 15.b3 h6 16.Rfe1 Qc7 17.Rc1 Rc8 18.Rc2 Nb4 19.cxb4 Qxc2 20.Qxc2 Rxc2 21.bxa5 Rb4 22.Kf1 Nd7 23.Ke2 Rxb3 0-1

 

Veresov System

1. d4 d5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5

+-----------------+
|rhb1kg.4|
|0p0.0p0p|
|.+.+.h.+|
|+.+p+.G.|
|.+.).+.+|
|+.H.+.+.|
|P)P+P)P)|
|$.+QIBHR|
+-----------------+

The idea behind the opening

White has a number of new ideas in this line: perhaps White can mess up Black's Pawns with Bxf6, or use the pressure against the Knight to play f3 and e4.

How to play against this opening

If you don't want White to mess up your Pawns, then you must play

3...Nbd7!

which may be the best move. But I think Bxf6 is not much to worry about, and that you should get your Bc8 out if you can:

3...Bf5!

4.Bxf6 gxf6

recapture towards the centre if you can

5.e3 c6 6.Bd3 Bxd3 7.Qxd3 e6 8.e4 Nd7 9.Nf3 dxe4 10.Nxe4 f5 =

+-----------------+
|r+.1kg.4|
|0p+n+p+p|
|.+p+p+.+|
|+.+.+p+.|
|.+.)N+.+|
|+.+Q+N+.|
|P)P+.)P)|
|$.+.I.+R|
+-----------------+

With Pawns on White squares and a Bishop on dark squares, Black is ready to uncoil.

BCO2 also gives:

4. f3 Nbd7 5. Nxd5 Nxd5 6. e4 h6 7. Bh4 N7b6 8. exf5 Ne3! 9. Qd2 Nxf1 10. Kxf1=/+

Example game


Link,U - Birke,M [D01] Wuert-chT, 1994

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bg5 Bf5 4.Bxf6 gxf6 5.e3 e6 6.Bd3 Bxd3 7.Qxd3 c6 8.Nge2 Nd7 9.e4 dxe4 10.Qxe4 f5 11.Qf3 Nf6 12.0-0-0 Qc7 13.h3 h5 14.Kb1 0-0-0 15.g4 hxg4 16.hxg4 Rxh1 17.Rxh1 Nxg4 18.Ne4 Bg7 19.Rh7 Bxd4 20.Ng5 Bf6 21.Nxf7 Rd7 22.Nf4 Rxf7 23.Nxe6 Qe5 0-1

 

Stonewall Attack

1. d4 d5 2. e3 with f2-f4

+-----------------+
|rhb1kgn4|
|0p0.0p0p|
|.+.+.+.+|
|+.+p+.+.|
|.+.).+.+|
|+.+.).+.|
|P)P+.)P)|
|$NGQIBHR|
+-----------------+

The idea behind the opening

White hopes to strangle the centre with f4 then kick in the King's-side with Bf1-d3xh7+. It can work - if Black assumes there is no danger! It's also not a bad idea for Black, because White is usually less defensive.

How to play against this opening

If you think about it, White is trying to attack without the Bc1, and that means attacking without the Ra1! Because White has been so obvious, Black can easily organise a defence. But you must organise one - just developing without thinking will let White carry out the plan. Don't be in a hurry to castle into an attack!

One nice idea is

2...Nf6 3. Bd3 Nc6!

Now:

4. f4 Nb4! 5. Be2 Bf5!

4. c3 e5!

If this is not your style, another nice idea is 3...g6, which stops the Bxh7 trick, or play 3...Bg4 with the idea of ...e6 and ...Bf5! or 3...g6 with the idea of ...Bf5.

Oskum - Euwe Scheveningen, 1920

1.d4 d5 2.e3 Nf6 3.Bd3 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.f4 Bg4 6.Nf3 e6 7.Nbd2 Bd6 8.g3 Rc8 9.0-0 Nd7 10.Qe1 0-0 11.e4 cxd4 12.Nxd4 Qb6 13.Qf2 e5 14.exd5 Ne7 15.fxe5 Nxe5 16.Be4 f5 17.Ne6 fxe4 18.Qxb6 Rxf1+ 19.Kxf1 axb6 20.Nxe4 Bb8 21.Nf4 Rd8 22.Be3 Nc4 23.Bd4 Bxf4 24.gxf4 Nxd5 25.b3 Nce3+ 26.Kf2 Nc2 27.Rg1 Nxd4 28.cxd4 Bf5 29.Kf3 Bxe4+ 30.Kxe4 Nc3+ 31.Kd3 Nb5 32.Kc4 Nxd4 33.Rd1 b5+ 0-1

Example game


Provaznik,M - Klimus,V [D00] Moravia op ch, 1994

1.d4 d5 2.e3 Nf6 3.Bd3 c5 4.c3 c4 5.Bc2 Nc6 6.f4 Bg4 7.Nf3 Qd7 8.0-0 e6 9.Nbd2 Be7 10.h3 Bh5 11.Qe1 Bg6 12.Bxg6 hxg6 13.Ne5 Qc7 14.Ndf3 Ne4 15.Bd2 Rh6 16.b3 Na5 17.b4 Nc6 18.Ng4 Rh7 19.Nge5 Bf6 20.Qb1 Bxe5 21.fxe5 Ne7 22.Qb2 Nf5 23.Rfe1 Nfg3 24.Reb1 g5 25.Nh2 f5 26.Be1 g4 27.Bxg3 Nxg3 28.hxg4 fxg4 29.Nxg4 Qf7 30.Nh2 Qh5 0-1

 

Blackmar-Diemer Gambit

1. d4 d5 2. e4

+-----------------+
|rhb1kgn4|
|0p0.0p0p|
|.+.+.+.+|
|+.+p+.+.|
|.+.)P+.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|P)P+.)P)|
|$NGQIBHR|
+-----------------+

The idea behind the opening

White hopes that Black will take this Pawn and the f-Pawn, giving White extra time and open lines for an attack.

This can work very well:


Sawyer T - Overman A [D00] corr USCF Golden Knights SF, 1990

1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Qe1 Nbd7 9.Qh4 e6 10.Bg5 Qe8 11.Rae1 c6 12.Ne5 Nd5 13.Ne4 Nxe5 14.dxe5 Kh8 15.Bxd5 1-0

How to play against this opening

This opening works so well because most club players are rubbish at defence. So, to play against it, you either need to become better at defence then accept the gambit, or decline it and hope you haven't let White get away with anything else.

If you play the French Defence as Black, there can be no arguing with 2...e6 , transposing into your main defence to 1.e4. Or, you can decline it with moves like 4...Bf5 or 4...e3 , or accept it with 4...exf3 5. Nxf3

I have a feeling the best way is to take it, but don't castle into an attack, first have a hack at the White centre.

Example game


Drueke,V - Regis,D [D00] Section P01 BDG Email Tourney (1), 01.07.1997

1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 e6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Bd3 c5 8.dxc5 Qa5 9.0-0 Qxc5+ 10.Kh1 Nbd7 11.Qe1 a6

We know have a little dance where Black tries to swap off Queens, and White tries to trap the Black Queen. All this costs White another Pawn.

12.Qh4 Qb4 13.Nd4 Qxb2 14.Nce2 Ne5 15.a4 Qb6

White thinks the time is right to blast a way through to the Black King, but...

16.Rxf6 gxf6 0-1

...17. Bxf6 Qd8!

None of my own work: I read it all in a book.