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Hello! My name is Robert Hungaski and I am taking over the 1 d4 d5 2 c4 section. I am a professional chess player (Grand Master since 2013) and coach (FIDE Senior Trainer) from the United States. I am currently one of the official coaches for the U.S. Chess Federation at international competitions as well as a recurrent Resident GM at the Saint Louis Chess Club.
The highlight of November was the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg and the European Club Cup in Budva. In this update I will be covering some of the games played in those events (as well as a few others) as they relate to recent developments in the Catalan and the Queen’s Gambit Accepted.

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

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Catalan Mainline 4...Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.a4 Bd7 9.Qxc4 Bc6 10.Bg5 [E05]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.a4 Bd7 9.Qxc4 Bc6 10.Bg5 Nbd7 11.Nc3 h6 12.Bxf6 Nxf6 13.Rfd1!?:

Here I break down the reason this move has been growing in popularity, as well as the previously dominant 13.b4. Basically with the threat of White playing e2-e4 hanging over Black’s head, White hopes to reach a position where he will be playing for two results after 13...Bd5 14.Qd3 Bxf3 15.Bxf3 c6 The position is objectively closer to equal than to being better for White, but it’s exactly what White is looking for. See the game Grischuk, A - Navara, D, Hamburg 2019.

Closed Catalan: 8.Nbd2 & 9.e4 [E09]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 c6 7.Qc2 b6 8.Nbd2 Bb7 9.e4 dxc4!?:

In recent years the Closed Catalan has been dominated by 4...Bb4+ and in the rare cases where Black plays 4...Be7, then it is Kovalyov’s 9...Na6 that is most theoretically relevant (rather than the old 9...Nbd7). However, this move has been growing in popularity and hides quite a bit of poison if White’s not careful. For example, after 10.Nxc4 Nbd7 11.Rd1 c5 12.Ng5 h6 13.e5 Bxg2 14.exf6 Nxf6 15.Kxg2 hxg5 Black is doing great. See Gretarsson, H - Leitao, R, Selfoss 2019.

Closed Catalan: 7.Nc3 [E06]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 c6 7.Nc3!?:

7...b6 8.Ne5 Ba6 9.cxd5 cxd5 10.Bf4 Bb7 11.Rc1 Nbd7 12.Nb5 Nxe5 13.dxe5 Ne4?! Proved to be the wrong place to put a knight since it allows White some interesting trading options. Instead, Ponomariov’s 13...Nd7 followed by 14...Rc8 is still in good shape. See Banusz, T - Tarlev, K, Budva 2019.

Queen’s Gambit Accepted: 3.e3 e5 & 7.0-0 [D20]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 e5 4.Bxc4 exd4 5.exd4 Bd6 6.Nf3 Nf6 7.0-0 0-0 8.Nc3 Bg4?!:

This is an instructive mistake that has not been previously discussed on the site, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about the dynamic potential of White’s structure. Moreover, the game eventually drifts into an interesting two bishops vs two knights endgame. In terms of the opening, Black was soon in trouble after 9.h3 Bh5 10.g4 Bg6 11.Ne5? See Kozul, Z - Zelcic, R, Zagreb 2019.

Queen’s Gambit Accepted: 3.e3 e5 & 7.Qe2+ [D20]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 e5 4.Bxc4 exd4 5.exd4 Nf6 6.Nf3 Bd6 7.Qe2+!?:

This is one of White’s most interesting and theoretically challenging ideas. Just because the queens come off the board does not necessarily mean that White’s initiative is any less dangerous. The only difference is that with the queens on the board the initiative is usually on the kingside and with the queens off the board the attention usually shifts to the queenside.

7...Qe7 8.Qxe7+ Bxe7 9.0-0 Nbd7 10.Re1 Nb6 11.Bb3 Nfd5 12.Nc3 c6 13.a4 a5 14.Bd2 Be6 15.Ne4 0-0 (after this game I am convinced Black should stick with 15...Nc7!) 16.Nfg5!? With this move White takes the sting out of Black’s thematic defensive idea ...Nc7. For example, after 16.Nc5 Bxc5 17.dxc5 Nd7 18.Rac1 Nc7=. In the game White managed to keep the light-squared bishops on the board and slowly build up the pressure on the queenside. See the game Yuffa, D - Sangupta, D, Budva 2019.

Queen’s Gambit Accepted: 3.Nf3 & 5...a6 [D26]

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 dxc4 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 a6!?:

An interesting sideline that aims to delay the ...c5 pawn break in order to avoid White’s main lines (particularly 7.dxc5).

6.0-0 b5 7.Bd3 (7.Be2 and 7.Bb3 are the alternatives) 7...Bb7 8.Qe2 Nbd7 9.a4 b4 10.e4 c5?! This is Varga’s pet line (or vice?). Instead, I also cover 10...Be7 which looks safer and best. 11.d5! leads to a dangerous initiative for White. See Grachev, B - Varga, Z, Budva 2019.

Queen’s Gambit Accepted: 3.Nf3 & 5...c5 [D27]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 c5 6.0-0 a6 7.b3!?:

This is White’s most solid line after 7.dxc5. Instead of a basically unlosable endgame, White aims for a slightly more comfortable middle game where Black will have weaknesses on the queenside.

7...Nbd7 8.Bb2 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.a4 b4 11.Nbd2 Be7 this is the critical position of the variation. Black must play with purpose in order to avoid falling into a clamp. Black managed to do exactly that and soon equalized in the game Predojevic, B - Edouard, R, Bundesliga 2019.

Queen’s Gambit Accepted: 3.Nf3 & 5...c5 [D27]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 a6 6.0-0 c5 7.Bb3:

This is White’s most aggressive approach. White is aiming for an IQP position. Here we will see what happens when Black accepts that challenge. However, Black can also play the modern 7...b5!?.

7...Nc6 8.Qe2 (8.Nc3 cxd4 (8...b5!?) 9.exd4 Be7 10.Bg5 0-0 11.Qd2? is more critical) 8...cxd4 9.Rd1 Be7 10.exd4 0-0 11.Nc3 Bd7!? This is the real point of interest since all the recent games played at a high level go 11...Na5 12.Bc2 b5, which was covered in the game Mamedyarov-Dominguez, Huaian 2016 - see the PGN Archive. Black intends to complete the queenside development without playing the weakening ...b7-b5. Black usually obtains a solid position. For example, after 12.Ne5 Be8 13.Bg5 Nd5 Black was doing fine in the game Bjerre, J - Studer, N, Bundesliga 2019.


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