My Catalan - Complete Guide for White
This product includes all the videos from the workshop as well as the PGN file related to the training sessions. Overall, the material consists of 9 hours of video and a PGN database which includes 149 files!
You will find the following lectures:
✅ Typical Catalan Strategies - Part 1
✅ Typical Catalan Strategies - Part 2
✅ Lines with 4...dxc4
✅ Open Catalan
✅ Closed Catalan with and without ...Bb4+
✅ Rare Lines and Ideas for Both Sides
Now, we shall take a look at the different lectures.
Typical Catalan Strategies - Part 1
In the first lecture, you will find examples of two of the most popular and important Catalan strategical ideas for White.
1. Open centre - Black plays c7-c5 followed by dxc5 or cxd4.
The so-called Open center is one of the cornerstones of Catalan. White is trying to put pressure on Black's queenside (mainly because of his superior g2-bishop) and in the center.
2. No pawn breaks
Those positions are usually much better for White. Black failed to play c7-c5 or e6-e5 breaks and his position is unpleasant. White has a space advantage, more active pieces and many ways to increase the pressure.
Below, you shall see one of the model games.
Typical Catalan Strategies - Part 2
In the second lecture, GM Papaioannou covers four typical strategical ideas for White.
The first typical strategy the author covers in this lecture is the advance c4-c5 for White. In the model games, you will often find the specific positions you can achieve when you face an unprepared opponent. White manages to advance the e2-e4 break and then tries to block Black's light-squared bishop by playing c4-c5.
2. Black manages to play c6(c7) - c5
In some cases Black suceeds to advance c6-c5, but still needs to work hard for equality. White's main idea is to occupy the long diagonal (h1-a8) and to double the rooks on the open d-file
3. White sacrifices a pawn for long-term compensation
The next strategy is the typical pawn sacrifice in Catalan. Often, Black took the c4-pawn and defended it by a6-b5 or c6-b5. In this case, White shouldn't try to win the pawn back but plays a b2-b3 break to sacrifice a pawn, but open diagonals and files. White always has long-term compensation for the material, and the positions are hazardous for Black.
4.The Nd3 strategy
Maneuvering the knight to d3 and entering an endgame with a Nd3 versus Black's dark-squared bishop is a very common theme in Catalan.
Below, you can see one of the model games.
Lines with 4...dxc4
In this lecture, GM Papaioannou deals with the variations arising after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 dxc4
We can say that this is Black's most concrete way of fighting against the Catalan. Therefore, this is the lecture with the biggest theoretical overload in the entire camp. That being said, White still can play, mainly relying on his understanding. Papaioannou has carefully crafted a selection of lines in which minimal theoretical knowledge is required. Additionally, he gives preference to risk-free positions with small advantage.
Below, you can take a look at one of the suggested lines.
On the diagram, you can see the starting position of the Open Catalan.
Capturing the pawn with 6...dxc4 leads to the Open Catalan, and it's good to note that the move 4...dxc4 is very different from this variation and they rarely transpose. The line with 6...dxc4 is very popular for Black at the high level because Black has a healthy position with easy development. However, Black is always slightly passive but hopes to equalize and make a draw. White can continue in many different ways in this position.
Papaioannou's suggestion is based on the line 7.Qc2 a6 8.a4
Obviously, GM Papaioannou covers 7...b6 and 7...b5 as well. In the position on the diagram, White can play for a slight edge by mainly relying on his understanding. The theory is really not that important. Papaioannou provides a wonderfull explanation of all the typical positional and tactical ideas.
Below, you shall see one of the model games.
Closed Catalan with and without ...Bb4+
The pure form of the Closed Catalan arises after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 c6
The Closed Catalan is a collective term for all the variations in which Black refrains from playing ...dxc4 early in the opening. From a logical point of view, it makes perfect sense: White's light-squared bishop does not look very strong as long as Black's central pawn chain safely blocks it. However, one can argue that a single minor piece that keeps the opponent's pawn centre in check is quite an achiever. And strategically, White has a clear plan to gain more space, add pressure to Black's centre and increase the power of the Catalan bishop by playing e2-e4. On the other hand, Black has the problem of his own light-squared bishop to solve, which may have difficulty finding employment.
Black can also start with 4...Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7
We reach may be the most solid and reliable system for Black in the Catalan Opening, but it is also somewhat passive, making it not everyone's taste. White has several ways to fight for a small advantage. The one recommended here is the most direct: Qc2, followed by Bf4 and Nbd2, trying to reach a position from the lines without checking with the mild inconvenience that the dark-squared bishop has been developed somewhat prematurely. For players who prefer to spend less time learning theory, there is also an easier alternative: Qc2, followed by Bg5 and a quick e2-e4. This will later be called the "lazy variation".
Below, you can take a look at one of the model games.
Rare Lines and Ideas for Both Sides
The subject of this last lecture will be four different lines that are rarely played and relatively unknown and unexplored. Three of these four will show promising alternatives for the white player, who may be interested in learning less theory or neutralising a well-prepared opponent while still keeping the game on Catalan territory.
Below, you can take a look at one very interesting alternative to the main line.