ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Easter is coming up soon, and we have many ‘Easter eggs’ for your goodie bag this month! I delve deeper into many lines I covered last month, completing repertoires and showing how to deal with other Black continuations! And for those wanting something completely fresh, enjoy my update of the key ...Bb4 Catalan variations being tested at the elite level! If you don’t know how you’ll break down the solid Queen’s Gambit defences, read on...

Download PGN of April ’19 1 d4 d5 2 c4 games

>> Previous Update >>

Chebanenko Slav 5.c5 Nbd7 6.Bf4 Nh5 7.Bd2 Nhf6 8.Rc1 g6 9.h3! [D15]

Our first game, Ingersol, H - Brzoza, M, continues where we left off last month, completing a White repertoire against the Chebanenko based on 5.c5. The key position from the game can be found below:

If you find the best move for White here, you obtain an advantage, as happened in the game, which White went on to win. If Black wants to have good chances for equality, he needs to achieve the ...e5 break sooner, even as a pawn sacrifice - see my notes for details.

QGA/Vienna with 5.Qa4+ Nbd7 [D23]

Our next game, Rapport, R - Van Foreest, J, is a real treat from this year’s Tata Steel tournament! White won very convincingly in the 5.Qa4 Vienna Variation after Van Foreest wasn’t able to navigate the following critical position as Black:

My question, therefore, is: What should Black play instead here? For what it’s worth, I would probably prefer 5...c6 6.Qxc4 b5 as Black, transposing to the Semi-Slav sideline covered in last month’s update.

QGA Main Line with 7.b3 b6 [D27]

While last month’s 7.Be2 is clearly more of a sideline, 7.b3 has developed main-line status, having been played in many high-level GM and correspondence games lately. My main game, Carlsen, M - Mamedyarov, S, shows that Black is indeed fine in this variation, but White has the potential to set small problems in the various simplified positions with a symmetrical pawn structure. The following position from the game is a good example:

It is Black to move in this position. Mamedyarov didn’t play it the best way, but can you do better? See my annotations for the answer :)

QGD Exchange, Short Endgame [D35]

The main game Vachier Lagrave, M - Vitiugov, N may not be the most exciting, but it’s an important one for demonstrating that Carlsen’s 12.Ne2 idea in the Short Endgame may not promise such a workable advantage as White, contrary to what I suggested in the Archives. However, the more exciting part of my notes for most readers will be how to deal with the common ‘club player’ move of 5...Bb4, for which the following position is rather critical:

White to play here. Do you see the sequence leading to a White advantage in this messy position? You’ll find the answer in the game analyses!

QGD Blackburne Variation with 6.a3 [D37]

I already covered this variation last month, but the recent game Korobov, A - Anand, V from this year’s Bundesliga was too good not to include! The key position of the game was undoubtedly right out of the opening:

What approach should Anand, playing Black here, have played in this position? Check my notes for the answer - indeed, it seems Black is doing fine here with best play, according to my analyses.

QGD Blackburne Variation with 6.e3 b6 [D37]

Once again, I covered this variation last month in a Nakamura game, and in the subsequent Carlsen, M - Nakamura, H game from the 2018 World Blitz Championship, the World Champion was unable to prove any advantage out of the opening. The actual game ended peacefully quite fast, so I will take a key position from one of the variations as a positional puzzle for you:

It’s White to move in this position. How should he play to secure a durable advantage? As always, you can check my notes for the answer :)

Closed Catalan with 4...Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7, 8.a4 Variation [E11]

While the previous games continued where the last update left off, our final two games feature interesting new territory in the Catalan, which was very trendy in 2018 and continues to be popular in the early months of 2019. As part of a solution for Black, I have included the game Yu, Y - Le, Q, where two of Asia’s very best players play a very inspired game. White went on to win, but Black looks to be in reasonable theoretical standing. Let’s take the following position as an example:

What do you think Black should play in this position? It’s quite a tough puzzle, but you can get my insight into the play in these unusual Stonewall positions in the notes.

Closed Catalan with 4...Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7, Main Line 8.Qc2 [E11]

Our final game, Lalith, B - So, W from Gibraltar, serves as an overview of the main line of this Closed Catalan, with 8.Qc2 and an early Bf4. However, the actual game saw White dispense with Bf4 in favour of an interesting pawn sacrifice, leading to the following critical position:

In this position, So missed a key tactical point as Black, and ended up quite lucky to save the game. What should Black have played instead? See the notes, which show that Black remains in good theoretical shape in this variation, with a solid yet flexible game.

That is all for this month in the Queen’s Gambit! Do you like this format of breaking the coverage of variations into parts? How could we make these updates even more useful for your study and preparation? Let me know by contacting

I will be back in May with the next Queen’s Gambit update, which I am very excited about sharing! Until then, Happy Easter and don’t eat too many Easter eggs! Max.

>> Previous Update >>

If you have any questions, then please post a message at the 1 d4 d5 Forum, or subscribers can email