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Methods of Playing in Positions with Carlsbad Structure - Part 1

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Dear reader,

We are about to start dealing with one of the most popular and important pawn structures - Carlsbad.

Among the openings out of which Carlsbad is likely to arise are Queen's Gambit, Nimzoindian Defence, Grunfeld Defence, Semi-Slav, Caro - Kann. Before I start explaining the structure in detail, I would like to give the reader a visual example concerning the Carlsbad.

A typical Carlsbad position arises after the moves: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 c6 6.e3 this is the so-called Carlsbad variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined (QGD).

This variation became popular during the strong tournament which was held in Carlsbad in 1929. Since then, theoreticians introduced the name "Carlsbad structure." For more than 80 years, this structure has undergone serious developments. Nevertheless, some general positional concepts remain unchanged. In the beginning, I would like to provide you with some basic considerations concerning the structure. The most important positional factor in the position is the absence of open files. As the reader can see, there are two semi-open files - "c" and "e". Usually, White exercises pressure along the c-file, while Black tries to make use of the e-file. When analyzing the structure from a "classical" perspective, we can say that White's long-term is to play on the kingside whereas Black should look for counter-chances on the other side of the board. At this point, I insist on the word "classical" because, in the current series of articles, we are going to see that in many positions White plays in the center and on the kingside while Black goes for active actions on the queenside. In the current article, I will focus on White's plan to play on the queenside and on Black's positional ways to fight against it. In this structure, White playing on the queenside by executing the so-called "minority attack" (three white pawns attack four black pawns). The final objective of the minority attack is to create a weak pawn on "c6".

To achieve this goal, White plays b2-b4-b5 followed by bxc6. In such a case, White will put strong pressure on the weaknesses on "a7" and "c6". To avoid such scenario, Black usually meets the move b2-b4 through a7-a6. In this way, he forces White to prepare b4-b5 with a2-a4. As a result, when White finally goes for the b4-b5 break, Black will get rid of his potentially weak a-pawn by playing axb5. In this case, only the c6-pawn will be weak.

Now, we are going to take a look at a game in which White managed to execute his plan flawlessly.



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