Every Russian Schoolboy Knows: Build you opening repertoire - QGD
Opening D37: QGD
In the opening video of the new series on Queen's Gambit Declined the Bf4 line, I cover the standard structure with the isolated d5-pawn where White applies a different strategy. Instead of trying to blockade the pawn he actually encourages it to move forward. Some of the lines are heavily researched and checked in practice, yet White retains good practical chances, such was the case of the Leko-Kramnik game form their World Championship Match in 2004.
Video #2 deals with various sidelines of the same isolated pawn structure. With the pair of knights gone from their respective posts on c3 and f6 Black's Kingside appears somewhat underdefended. In the Canney game I was able to exploit that factor. Another interesting point is White willingness to trade light square bishops, the idea I failed to appreciate in my game against Tang. As it goes in the Bf4 line White aims not to blockade the d5-pawn but win it!
Video #3 From the previous videos, we have learned that in the absence of a pair of knights, traded on the d5-square, White rather attempts to attack and win the isolated d5-pawn, instead of blockading it. Defending passively may lead Black to a worse position. So, what to do? As one would expect from GM Shabalov, he found a perfect solution to the problem: he simply sacrificed that pawn! Facing this novelty over-the-board I bailed out with a queen trade into an equal endgame. However, post-game analysis failed to refute Black's outrageous idea. One thing is to get your move order right. My next opponent, Plunkett, mixed it up and found himself down a pawn for nothing. Also, Black may take a more traditional approach to the problem of the isolated d5-pawn by leaving a pair of knights on the board. This leads him to a safer position, because White cannot count on winning the pawn. At the same time, the presence of Nc3 on the board relieves White of his worries about the a5-e1 diagonal. As my games with Mezentsev and Moore show, the game then takes the shape of a regular Queens Gambit Declined battle, where White possesses one of the smallest advantages. One difference is the maneuver Nf3-e5 made possible by Bf4, instead of the routine blockade with Nf3-d4.
Video #4 So, you think the Queens Gambit is a boring opening, all about weak pawns and endgame play? This video will open your eyes a bit wider. As the great champion Alexander Alekhine often proved in his games, White just uses a queenside diversion to force Black to draw his pieces way from the real target: Black's own king. The attack on the abandoned monarch can be swift and merciless. Against the young and talented John-Daniel Bryant I used this strategy by deliberately fracturing my queenside pawns. Another surprising pawn recapture on move 23 decided the game in my favor. One of the most common pawn structure issues arising from the Bf4 line is White's recapture on f4 with his e-pawn. The three games there illustrate that Black shouldn't be counting his chickens too early. Thanks to the Nh5xf4 time-consuming operation White gets a massive lead in development that can be translated into advantage in both middlegame and endgame
Video #5 Anand's win over Carlsen in Game 3 of their second World Championship stands out as a modern classic. Deep opening preparation, along with perfect tactical execution, allowed the veteran to score a convincing victory. Detailed analysis, however, shows that White's play followed a known pattern, first introduced by Anand's great predecessor, Anatoly Karpov. The b4-b5 breakthrough represents White's only chance to break open Black's solid defenses. Black can play more carefully to sidestep this dangerous line. As the b4-b5 push is delayed it gradually loses its punch, as the following games show. All in all, it appears Black can hold his own despite the strong presence of White Bf4.
Video #6 The key issue in the structure appearing after White's move c4-c5 is the need to preserve the strong Bf4, the piece that fights against Black's natural break e6-e5 and extends its influence all the way to the b8-square, making the potential opening of the b-file White's main strategic goal. The little move h2-h3 therefore often becomes an integral part of White's setup. Question is, can Black hit the bishop before it happens? In this video we're looking at 7...Nh5 as the immediate answer to White's c4-c5. While I have already touched the issue of a pawn structure change following the e3xf4 recapture, in this case the position remains closed, making it more difficult for White to develop his play. Another great Anand win in the Bf4 QGD, this time against Nakamura, provides a blueprint of the campaign. The move Ne5 poses an interesting problem: which piece should Black capture that knight with? Compared with Anand's and Andreikin' games my own effort against IM Adler looks uninspiring. I guess, I had to play Nf3-e5 a bit earlier.
Video #7 While 7.c5 remains White's principled answer to 6...Nbd7, closing the position is not to everyone's liking. I myself, have had a hard time playing such structures with White, as my game against IM Adler (see Video #6) can attest to. Does White have any options? One attempt is to sacrifice a tempo on a bishop move before the exchange on c4. The resulting positions may seem rather dry and equalish to some, but more experienced 1.d4 players know how to squeeze the smallest of advantages out of it, like a drop of water from a stone. My own efforts in this vein are rather unimpressive. I managed to win some games against a lower-rated opposition, but when the game with Lenderman didn't pan out at all. Perhaps, I need to follow the lead of the master technician Alexey Dreev, whose win over Yilmaz is to be studied and admired. I would also mention that any attempts on the part of Black to keep the queens on the board are likely to backfire in a bad way, as in the blitz game between So and Caruana. One can view the 7.Be2 line as a cold, practical approach, especially effective against higher-rated opposition.
Video #8 In this final video on the Bf4 system of the QGD I would like to devote some time to sideline options for both players. First is my somewhat clumsy attempt to economize on the bishop moves in the old game against GM Goldin. While in the game continuation White obtain a very promising position, the cold reality is that Black equalizes with ease. White's rook on c1 seems in the right place, but abandoning the a-pawn may not be a good idea. This bring us to the little move 6.a3 and its poisonous nature. White is attempting to trick Black into a more passive setup once he plays his knight to b5 and forces the reply Ne8. My personal experience with this line consists of one game where my opponent, the young J.D Bryant, was sidetracked by the idea of damaging White's pawn structure. Problem was, he fell behind in development, just as we saw in some examples from previous videos. The high-profile Andreikin-Kramnik game opens a new chapter, as Black tries to take advantage of the time spent on a2-a3 by switching to the Tartakower-Makagonov-Bondarevsky tracks. There's a lot of unexplored territory over there.