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Hello chess friends! This month’s Queen’s Gambit column sees some nice wins for White, but equality for Black - if he plays accurately! I have maintained the standard 8-game format, but with a few tweaks to make the update more digestible and useful for the readers. Namely, several of the games are presented somewhat like a ‘repertoire’ format, with clear recommendations you can follow, and a brief mention or coverage of alternatives. You’ll also find a couple of QGD games where I create a basic ‘roadmap’ of the options, to help orient inexperienced Queen’s Gambit players (and those new to the site).
Are you excited to learn some new opening ideas? Let’s delve into the game introductions!

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

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Chebanenko Slav 5.c5 Bf5 [D15]

Our first game is Weingarz, W - Gulevich, A, an email game where White convincingly dispatched a sideline of the Chebanenko Variation, 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.c5 Bf5 (which I have written about before). The key position of the game can be found below, with White to play:

Did you find White’s best move in the diagram? You can find the answer in the game link. Make sure to see how to deal with Black’s inferior 4th moves and 5...g6 in the notes too. Next month I will show how to deal with the main line 5...Nbd7 as White!

Anti-Vienna Gambit 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bxc4 [D24/39]

Carlsen, M - Duda, J was one of Carlsen’s finest wins in his Tata Steel victory this year. The game was a great example of what modern opening preparation looks like as White - the aim is not so much to force an advantage (which is not that realistic against the main lines), but rather to set difficult and original problems to the opponent. What would you do in the diagram, with Black to move?

Did you improve on Duda’s play in the game? Check the notes to find out! You can also find a Black repertoire in this file against the Vienna Gambit, based on 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bxc4 Nxe4 7.0-0 Nf6, the recent preference of Caruana.

QGA Classical Main Line with 7.Be2 [D27]

After seeing the game Carlsen, M - Caruana, F from the 2017 London Chess Classic, you’ll realise that Carlsen is our ‘hero’ in this update, scoring 2.5/3 with the White pieces! And even in this drawn game, he had quite good winning chances with a sideline against the solid Queen’s Gambit Accepted:

Have you seen this bishop retreat before? What would you do as Black? I share a solution in the notes to the game, although White obtained an edge anyway after Carlsen successfully bluffed Caruana. I feel this system can be played as a one-game surprise weapon as White, since most QGA players won’t be ready for it.

Next month, I will share some developments in the 7.b3 variation, which continues to be trendy.

Stonewall with Bf4 [D31/A84]

One could argue about which section the Stonewall setup belongs in, but it’s certainly a somewhat common opening at club level! In Carlsen, M - Janaszak, D, we see a model example from the World Champion of how to refute the Stonewall setup - the catch being, that White was able to get his bishop to f4 early, via. 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 f5?! 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.e3. Later in the game, Carlsen traded Black’s good dark-squared bishop and reached this middlegame position, with White to move:

White is spoiled for choice...but can you find Carlsen’s move? I think club players especially will like my notes to the game, which offer a full repertoire for White on how to deal with this popular, but bad, version of the Stonewall (...f5 when White can still play Bf4/e3).

Semi-Tarrasch/4...Nxd5 Exchange QGD with 7.Rb1 [D35]

We can’t technically call the line played in Yu, Y - Radjabov, T in the 2018 Olympiad a Semi-Tarrasch, though it has some of those qualities! Recent results suggest that 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 c5 7.Rb1 is a quite dangerous weapon for White, and while the engines insist after the game that Black can hold, in practice his task proves very difficult. For example, the critical position in our main game can be found below, with White to move:

Do you see a promising way for White to use his momentary initiative, and turn it into a more tangible advantage? Compare your thoughts with the notes, and enjoy my coverage of this variation, which continues to set Black problems by depriving him of natural moves, while giving White a straightforward attacking plan. Next month we’ll examine some 4...exd5 lines!

Blackburne Variation with 6.e3 b6 7.Qc2 [D37]

The game Caruana, F - Nakamura, H from the 2018 London Chess Classic was a very tense and hard-fought battle, where Caruana came close to a win (which would have given him the no.1 spot on the live FIDE ratings). I’d already annotated the game in a lot of detail and found many instructive lessons to share with the readers, and I think you’ll see for yourself how, after Caruana’s 7.Qc2 Bb7 8.Rd1 Bd6 9.Bg3 approach, the engine may evaluate things as almost equal, but in practice it is much easier to play White. You can find a critical position of the game below, White to play:

What would you do as White in this position? Check the game for a detailed exploration and analysis - the most heavily analysed game in this update! You will see for yourself that draws are often far from boring...

Blackburne Variation 6.a3 b6 7.e3 [D37]

If the previous game took a bit of time to get your head around, our next game, Eremin, V - Kolpak, S, a correspondence game from 2014, is much more straightforward! You can find in the notes a nice introduction to the different options within the Queen’s Gambit Declined, which can help you to settle on a repertoire or add new systems to your existing repertoire. The position below, from the game, shows that Black can’t just play the QGD as a ‘system opening’ and equalise:

Here White played 12.Ng5!, launching an attack on the Black king. In this case, what would you play as White after a) 12...h6 and b) 12...Nf6? Check the game for the solutions and some useful ideas for playing the 6.a3 shortcut as White! Next month I will elaborate with another nice example featuring 6.a3 from White.

Semi-Slav 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 b5 [D43/30]

Our final game for this update (wasn’t that quick?) Vinchev, S - Boesenberg, E, an email game from 2015, presents a repertoire for Black against a sideline in the Semi-Slav, namely 5.Qb3/5.Qd3. However, it is also useful for Vienna players (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.Qa4 c6 6.Qxc4 b5), who can use this transposition as an antidote to the 5.Qa4 sideline. The game itself is a somewhat dry draw, so let’s take a key position from one of my main lines:

Black to move. What is the correct plan to get enough counterplay with the bishop pair? As usual, check the notes for your solution and repertoire! White has scored a few wins at GM level lately in this variation, so I would not take it too lightly, despite my favourable conclusion from Black’s perspective.

I’ve already hinted at some of the variations I will cover in next month’s update (which I’ve already written a draft of). Do you have any requests or questions? Subscribers can email

Thank you for your attention, and you will see me again next month! Max.

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