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It has been a while since I addressed questions on ChessPub Forum, so in this update I’ll answer your questions and discuss some tricky sidelines that proved better than I’d originally thought! You’ll also find a couple of correspondence games of the late van Oosterom - this correspondence game analysis may become a more regular feature if the readers approve!

Download PGN of September ’17 1 d4 d5 2 c4 games

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Accelerated Ragozin with 4.a3 [D31]

One shouldn’t get fooled by the listed ECO code, as 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 Bxc3 5.bxc3 will transpose to a Nimzo-Indian if Black plays ...Nf6, which is what I would recommend. The question on the Forum regarded the merits of the move 5...c6, given in a one-page note in Pert’s ‘Playing the Ragozin’:

You can find my thoughts here, or first see if you can find the key idea to exploit Black’s last committal move!

Accelerated Ragozin without 4.a3 [D31]

With the Accelerated Ragozin move order also being advocated in Cornette’s ‘The Complete Ragozin’, you can expect it to feature more often in your games! I update my old coverage here and conclude that White is best advised to transpose to a Ragozin or Nimzo variation, depending on his repertoire. But let’s say you want to play the Noteboom, but don’t like the Marshall Gambit or Stonewall?

If that appeals to you, then try the move order 4...dxc4 5.e3 b5 6.a4 c6, transposing to the Noteboom! I only recently discovered this move order, and it could prove very unpleasant for your opponents (who may have chosen to avoid this via. the normal Triangle move order with ...e6/...c6).

Accelerated Ragozin with 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 [D31]

If you like to meet the Alatortsev (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Be7) with 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4, as favoured by Dreev, then it might also seem natural to meet 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 with 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4, as in Game Three. However, this is a better version for Black as our bishop is more active on b4 than e7, and after 5...c6 6.e3 we could develop our knight more flexible to e7. In the game, Black played 6...Bf5:

This worked well in the game, but if White plays correctly he should obtain an edge. Those of you familiar with the Alatortsev might apply this knowledge here to find White’s ideal plan.

Tarrasch Defence with 4.e3 Nf6 5.Nf3 a6 [D32]

When one considers the Tarrasch Defence complex, it’s more often with regard to transpositions from Flank Openings territory, as was the case in the selected Van Oosterom game. The following position shows how little move order tricks can make a difference:

Most players would probably castle without thinking here, only to find themselves under some positional pressure. Black was accurate and played 10...Qc7! 11.Nf3 Be6 12.Bb2 0-0 to secure stable equality. These IQP structures are occurring in several trendy branches of the Queen’s Gambit Declined of late, so you should find the structural explanations useful even if you don’t play this exact line with either colour.

4...Bg4 QGA [D25]

I had neglected the ...Bg4 QGA in the past, assuming that it would not be difficult for White to demonstrate an advantage (not to mention that White can avoid it in the pure Queen’s Gambit move order). But a recent Forum discussion sparked my interest, and it’s actually not at all easy to prove an advantage for White! The position you will reach most often is 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bg4 5.Bxc4 e6 6.h3 Bh5 7.Nc3, when Black has a choice:

What would you consider Black’s best move in this position? If you need a hint, it’s a different move to Delchev/Semkov’s recommendation in ‘Understanding the Queen’s Gambit Accepted’. You can check my conclusions here, and you might also conduct your own research on the Qb3xb7 pawn grab line, as it’s quite easy to expand on my analyses.

...e6 QGA [D21]

Another tricky move order in the QGA is 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 dxc4, which may prove a useful complement for Triangle players wishing to avoid 3...c6 4.Qc2 and other variations. If White is following Avrukh’s latest GM Repertoire (with 2...dxc4 3.e4 and 2...e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3), this variation presents a problem:

Perhaps the best option for White is to play 4.e3 and accept a transposition to the main line after 4...Nf6 5.Bxc4, but that would require White to learn a different variation. Furthermore, Black may opt for 4...b5 5.a4 b4 6.Bxc4 Nf6 to reduce his workload, as a recent Yearbook survey showed that it’s not so easy for White to prove an advantage against this sideline. The consistent move for White is 4.e4, but in this game you’ll see the problems with that move, as well as a decent alternative for Catalan players.

Open Catalan with 5...Bb4 [E11]

Just before submitting this column, I noticed that Ntirlis had recommended 4...dxc4 5.Bg2 a6 against the Catalan in his upcoming ‘Playing 1.d4 d5’. That is a subject for a later update, though - for now, I want to share with you a great game played in the 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 dxc4 5.Bg2 Bb4 variation. From a theoretical perspective, this is the key position:

If White plays correctly, he should have a small advantage in a fairly quiet position. But the position is not completely risk-free for White - in our main game Black unravelled his pieces, equalised and went on to outplay his opponent - correspondence chess was quite different a decade ago! You’ll also find my thoughts on how White should meet Delchev’s repertoire database for Black, based on 5...Bb4 6.Bd2 c5.

Closed Catalan with ...Ba6 [E08]

Finally, we have a line of the Catalan I had promised to cover for some time now. Namely, after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Bb4 (currently the main trend) 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 0-0 7.0-0 c6 8.Qc2 Nbd7 9.Rd1 b6 10.Bf4, I show that 10...Ba6, despite being not as trendy, is quite a reliable equaliser:

It may seem hard to believe here, but in the game Black played a strong piece sacrifice in just five more moves! None of the analysis will be any secret to professional players, but it should partly explain why White has been experimenting with things like 8.Na3 and early a4 advances of late. The common 11.b3 Rc8 12.Nc3 is something I plan to return to in the future.

That is the update for September! I’ll do my best to address your subsequent questions, either by email or in the next update. 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