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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Annotated Games Part 12.

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The Slav Defence.

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6

The Slav Defence to the Queen's Gambit is immensely popular at all levels at the moment. Black's idea is fairly simple; he just wants to hold the d5 point and give
no ground in the centre, but he doesnot see any reason to block his light-squared bishop in with 2...e6. It's true that his queen's knight probably isn't too thrilled at seeing the c6 square taken away from it, but Black reckons that he usually needs the c-pawn to help in the centre one way or another in the Queen's Gambit, so he does not want to go ....Nc6 and block the pawn.

3 Nf3 Nf6

Instead 3... e6 leads to the Abrahams variation of the Semi-Slav. There is also 3 ... dxc4 Which is a curious and fashionable hybrid with ideas borrowed from the Slav, the Abrahams and the Queens Gambit Accepted. White Most Principled counter is 4 e3 and then,

a) 4... b5 is not highly recommended due to 5 a4 e6 6 axb5 cxb5 7 b3 Bb4+ ( 7 ... Nf8 bxc4 bxc4 9 Bxc4 will always be at least a little better for White with the a7 target, especially after 9 ...Be7 ?! 10 Ne5 followed by Qf3 ) 8 Bd2 Bxd2+ 9 Nbxd2 a5 10 bxc4 b4 11 Ne5 intending 11 ... Nf6 12 Qa4+ as White takes advantage of his lead in development at once, otherwise this "Abrahams-type position with a pair of pieces exchanged can easily turn in Black's favour.

b) 4 ...Be6 is the vogue after which 5 a4 ( and certainly not 5 Ng5 Qa5+ which has received a surprising amount of grandmaster action as White, but you'll have to search your database for the names ...) 5 ...Nf6 6 Nc3 is correct when White should be able to obatain a decent position with a slight edge by moving hsi f3 knight somewhere sensible and going f3 and e4, for example 6 ....h4 7 Ne7 Nbd7 8 Nxc4 Bf4 9 f3

4 Nc3

4 e3 is another system, which avoids the difficulty White runs into on his next move but is rather too well met by 3 ...Bf5 or 4 ... Bg4

4 ... dxc4

Why Black should give up the centre? So what's he doing now? the answer is that he sees his idea to develop the queen's Bishop doesn't work at the moment 4 ... Bf5 5 cxd5 cxd5 6 Qb3

is very strong since 6 ... b6 7 e4 dxe4 8 Ne5 is just about winning for White, 6 ... Qb6 7 Nxd5 wins a pawn and 6 ... Bc8 While forced, clearly is not what Black was after. 4 ... Bg4? 5 Ne5 is obviously a mistake too, but meanwhile Black is a bit short of ways to aprepare the bishop development. giving up on the whole idea and playing 4 ... e6 is another entire opening complex called the semi-slav and is subject of the next chapter, while 4 ... g6 5 cxd5 cxd5 6 Bf4 is a little better for White the bishop doesn't belong on g7 in this structure for a number of reasons, chief among them that Black is bound to have to play ...e6 anyway at some stage and thus leave himself with a complex of weakened dark squares, and also he makes it harder for himself to play ...Bf5 since this piece will no longer be able to retreat along the b1 - h7 diagonal.

In fact modern theory has unearthed the clever waiting move 4 ... a6, the Chebanenko System which keeps the dream of bishop development alive and is dealth with below, but 4 ... d x c4 is the historical main line of the Slav. Black is 'giving up' the centre in a sense, but in return he gets to develop his bishop ( and thus all his minor pieces) conveniently, and also extracts an important concession.

5 a4

And here it is. If White wants to retrieve his pawn convenienty he had to do this. After 5 e4 anothe point of --- c6 reveals itself as Black continues with 5 ... b5. this is a genuine gambit, White no longer has any way to recover the pawn by force, he can play this way but theory holds that Black's chances are as good as White's. the text has always been the main line and White can now get his pawn back in peace, but he has lost a development tempo and also created a ghastly hole at b4. Slav endgames have a definite tendency to favour Black and really the whole reason for that is the structural damage White has had to do to himself to win his pawn back.

After 5 a4 Black can develop the bishop comfortably and can retain control of e4 for a while with 5 ... Bf5 which we will consider before exploring the alternatives.