Understanding The Queen’s Gambit

1.d4 d5 2.c4

41 Training board texts

(Note: Be sure and click on all the sub-variations, you find in the main games. Most will work with the VCR replay arrows bar below the board and most are enclosed by square brackets,[-]

This page contains two sections. The first section gives a survey of the classical Queen's Gambit Variations and deviations with a discussion of the fundamental ideas and the principles involved. The second section give a more detailed look into the ideas behind the Queen's Gambit.

Section One

The closed games normally begin with 1.d4 d5, although there are some transpositional lines from the Dutch Defense and some other openings. Playing 1...d5 right away effectively rules out the advance of either e-pawn to the center. In general these openings lead to quieter, longer struggles. For Black, they have the advantage of being very solid. White may be able to squeak out a small initiative, but the ideal pawn center remain only a dream, The vulnerable f7 square is well shielded from activity by White's bishop or queen on the a2-g8 diagonal.

1.d4 d5

By an overwhelming margin, White's favored second move is: 2.c4

White immediately attacks the d5-pawn and threatens to capture and eliminate Black's center. By commencing the Queen's Gambit, White hopes to entice Black into capturing the c4-pawn, and after a subsequent recapture, White would then have a lead in development.

If White is allowed to play c4xd5 unimpeded, Black's center is destroyed. Black has several choices, we will cover 5 here:

1. 2...dxc4 (Queen's Gambit Accepted)
By accepting the Queen's Gambit. Black shows a willingness to concede the center for rapid development. This is a dangerous strategy, but it has remained playable throughout the 20th century.

2. 2...c6 (Slav Defense)

3. 2...e6 (Queen's Gambit Declined), the main line. Go to this page Queen's Gambit Declined and find 11 more variations. Cambridge Springs, etc.

Go to The Minority Attack, The Carlsbad Variation History and find out why the Cambridge Springs was formed, and its importance to the Queen's Gambit
One of the oldest and most classical of defenses, the Queen's Gambit Declined is found on the chessboard about as frequently as the Spanish Game. Black will fight vigorously for control of the central squares, and develop quickly with ...Nf6, ...Be7, and kingside castling. The lack of open lines makes it very difficult for White to mount an effective attack. The only serious disadvantage of the opening is the blocking of the bishop at c8, which can lead to a bad bishop in the endgame. After suitable development, Black will work toward advancing the e-pawn to e5 in the early middlegame. Players who are impatient to see the light-squared bishop get into the game generally prefer the Slav Defense or the Tarrasch Defense

4. 2...Bf5 (Grau Variation)

5. 2...Nc6 (Chigorin Defense)

We can now proceed to study how white handles each of these choices.

Understanding The Queen’s Gambit Accepted (Main Line)

1. Queens Gambit Accepted

In this game of the Queen's Gambit Accepted you will see how valuable is understanding the basic ideas behind the opening of the Queen's Gambit can give a winning combination to success. A mastery of a little theory which conveys real understanding of the game is infinitely more valuable than a carefully memorized compellation of endless moves.
Queen's Gambit Game 1

2. Slav Defense

3. Slav Defense Merano Var

5. Geller Gambit

6. Semi-Slave Defense

Understanding The Queen’s Gambit Declined (Main Line)

The Queen's Gambit Declined, Has been a favored defense of nearly every World Champion. This fact alone should be enough to convince you of its soundness.

The Queen's Gambit Declined is one of the oldest and most classical of defenses and some would say its as old as the hills. It was first mentioned in the Gottingen manuscript in 1490 and analyzed in the early seventeenth century by Salvio and Greco. Perhaps the name "gambit" is a misnomer, because Black cannot really hold on to the pawn. In the nineteenth century it was considered by many to be an attempt to avoid the open clashes that resulted from the double king pawn openings. The percentage of games played with it began to rise in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when the theories of Steinitz and Tarrasch began to percolate downward to the great mass of players.

The question of how to meet the Queen's Gambit began to attract the theorist's attention. The majority of chess writers, starting with Jaenisch (1843), seemed to be of the opinion that holding the center with 2...e6 was the way to go. After this move there are many divergences, some depending on what White does and others on Black's choices. Some of the better-know variations that might arise are the Orthodox Variation, the Cambridge Springs Defense, the Exchange Variation, Lasker's Defense, and the Tartakower System.

The Queen's Gambit Declined is found on the chessboard about as frequently as the Spanish inquisition Game. Black will fight vigorously for control of the central squares, and develop quickly with ...Nf6, Be7, and kingside castling. The lack of open lines makes it very difficult for White to mount an effective attack.

What is White's idea when he plays 2 c4? He (or she or it) wishes to remove Black's d-pawn from the center and make way for his e-pawn to advance to e4. Black by playing 2...e6 stops White from doing this but imprisons his light-square bishop. Black will often try to imitate White by attacking White's d-pawn with a timely ...c5. In the course of this struggle one side or the other often accepts structural weaknesses in return for dynamic strengths. Isolated and hanging pawns abound for both sides in this group of openings.

The only serious disadvantage of the opening for Black is the blocking of the bishop at c8, which can lead to a bad bishop in the endgame. After suitable development, Black will work toward advancing the e-Pawn to e5 in the early middlegame. Players who are impatient to see the light-squared bishop get into the game generally prefer the Slav Defense or the Tarrasch Defense.

The most common continuations in the Queen's Gambit Declined (often know by the initials QGD) develop in one of two ways. White can play classically with 3.Nc3 Nf6; 4.Bg5 Be7; 5.Nf3 0-0; 6.e3. The alternative is the Exchange Variation 5.exd5 exd5; 6.d3.

In the latter case Black no longer has to worry about the bishop at c8, which has a clear path to the enemy kingside. White, on the other hand, (No not that hand, the other hand) has a wide range of choices, and can adopt a strategy known as the "MINORITY ATTACK" where the queenside pawns will advance and undermine the enemy pawn structure.

1. Queen's Gambit Declined

2. Grau Varistion

3. Chigorin Defense

4. Catalan Variation

5. Closed Catalan Var

The Dutch Stonewall Defense
The Stonewall Dutch is easy to understand. Black sets up a solid pawn structure, keeping the position closed. The modern handling places the dark squared bishop on f8 to d6, keeping a right eye on the important e5-square. The other bishop can be a problem child, however. If it gets stuck in a tar pit behind the pawns forever White will have a serious advantage. For this reason, the Stonewall was not popular for many decades and some say maybe even for a hundred thousand years! (Does anyone ever read this stuff?), but under the patronage of such fighting players as Nigel Short and Simen Agdestein it rose to a lofty position of prominence in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The movement may have been started in Sweden by Lars Karlsson, who convinced a number of strong FICS players to take up the line. This group of players discovered that Black must keep an open mind regarding the bad bishop. It can squirm to the kingside via d7-e8-h5 or lie in wait at b7, depending on White's plan. White almost always reacts with a kingside fianchetto, kingside castling, and the occupation of e5 by a knight.

6. Dutch Stonewall Defense 2 variations

7. Closed Catalan Var 2

8. Tarrasch Defense

9. Schara-Hennig Gambit

10. Tarrasch Defense 2

11. Tartakower Var

12. Lasker Defense

13. Neo-Orthodox Defense

14. Orthodox Defense

15. Exchange Varation

16. Main Line 7.Nf3

Section Two

Basic Ideas in the Queen's Gambit

The basic ideas in the QP openings are, in a manner of speaking, a mirror of those in the KP openings. Here after d4 White's goal is to get his pawn to e4, just as it was d4, after 1.e4. Essentially, the idea is the same in both: to set up Pawns at d4 and e4. Again, on the other hand (No not that hand, the other hand) there are the older and regular lines from 1. d4, e4, with analogues to the strong point and counter-attack defenses, to the other newer (many based on hypermodern theories) which are more involved. On the whole, one great defensive question in the KP openings, the QB is the eternal problem child for Black. (Of course if you never play Black, then it will never be a problem)

After d4, the advance of White's KP may be prevented by a pawn (1....e5, 1....f5) or a piece (1....Nf6) or a counter-attack (1....c5). As indicated above, the traditional reply, in accordance with the classical theories of Steinitz and Tarrasch, is 1.... d5.

Just as White can only hope to derive an advantage from the KP openings by developing with a move which attacks the Black center (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3), here his best chance lies in a similar assault. But this time the Black QP is defended, so he must hit at it with a Pawn, rather than with a piece. Thus we get to 2.c4, which is essential, from a theoretical point of view.

1. Queens Gambit 2.c4

2. Orthodox Defense

There are five primary types of superiority which White may strive to turn his temporary plus into. We will now look at the five types. 1.Q-side bind 2.Minority Attack 3.Superior Development 4.K-side Attack with Pieces 5. K-Side Attack with Pawns

1. Q-side bind

2. Minority Attack

3. Superior Development

4. King-side Attack with Pieces

5. K-side Attack with Pawns

Having a better understanding of the ideas behind the classical openings makes it a lot easier to play them.
However spending countless hours in the study and memorization of these openings, defenses and the variations is hardly the key to good play.
The key to good play is the though understanding of the ideas behind the openings, the ideas behind central control, quick piece development, and a safe King

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