Play Queen's Gambit Declined against 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 - Part 1
In the introduction to the current database, GM Eljanov writes:
The Queen's Gambit Declined is truly a lifetime opening. Like no other it passed the test of centuries of chess practice. This opening was employed by almost all old maestros including Morphy, Chigorin and Steinitz as well as by modern super grandmasters like Carlsen, Ananda, Caruana and many others.
Different move orders were popular at different times. If in the old days it was considered safe to allow the Carlsbad Variation after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5, nowadays most modern maestros tend to avoid typical Carlsbad pawn chains with Black and opt for 3...d5 only in response to 3.Nf3.
Strangely enough, yours truly almost never played Queen's Gambit Declined with Black. Nevertheless, I suppose that it perfectly suits my style and chess philosophy. In this database, I decided to analyse Queen's Gambit Declined from Black's point of view and chose the most straightforward way to challenge the main move 5.Bf4 (after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4) with 6...c5!?. At some point, this move was a bit in the shadow of the solid 6...Nbd7 but recently it began to gain popularity again thanks to top GMs Nakamura, Caruana and Anand first of all.
The starting position of the current database arises after the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0-0
The systems based on Bg5 (on move 4 or 5), as well as 4.e3, 5.cxd5, 5.Qc2 and 5.g3 will be dealt with in Part 2 of Eljanov's Queen's Gambit Declined series.
Chapter 1 - Early Sidelines
In this chapter, the author deals with some sidelines that White can opt for. Although the move 5.Bg5 is not a topic of the current database, Eljanov examines an attempt to enter the systems with Bf4 after provoking ...h7-h6. The basic position is being reached after 5...h6 6.Bf4
In the future, White will try to prove that ...h7-h6 is weakening the kingside. This idea has been tried by the World Champion Magnus Carlsen. The critical position arises after 6...c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.e3 0-0 9.a3 Nc6 10.Qc2
Almost by force, we arrive at our main line but with the inclusion of the move ...h7-h6. Now White will try to prove that it weakens the black king. In his game against Kovalev, Magnus was able to prove it very convincingly. That's why the author suggests to deviate from this game and play the logical 10...Qe7 Since Black has played ...h7-h6, White can not pin the f6-knight. Black is ready to go for ...e6-e5 followed by ...d5-d4. The subsequent analysis shows that Black is in very good shape in the arising positions.
After 5.Bf4 0-0, Eljanov also deals with White's attempt to deviate from the main line (6.e3) with 6.Qc2. In most of the cases, we the game just transposes to the main lines. The only independent continuation seems to be 6...c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.cxd5
At this point, Black has a choice. In his annotations, Eljanov proves that Black is doing very well after both 8...exd5 and 8...Nxd5.
Chapter 2 - Deviations on Moves 7 and 8
The first important tabiya is being reached after 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 c5
In this position, White's main choice is by far 7.dxc5, provoking Black to play one more move with the bishop and keeping the tension in the centre. In this chapter, Eljanov deals mainly with systems in which the central tension is being released. After the exchange of the central pawns, two scenarios are possible - symmetrical pawn structure which is usually harmless for Black and a position with an IQP on d4 which is favourable for Black since the bishop is misplaced on f4.
Such positions might arise via different move orders. For example, on move 7, White can play 7.Be2 or Bd3. Black's reaction remains the same - 7...dxc4 8.Bxc4 cxd4 when we reach one of the abovementioned structures. Another deviation would be 7.cxd5 when after 7...Nxd5 8.Nxd5 Qxd5 9.dxc5 Qxc5 we reach a symmetrical position.
Another sideline which is featured in this chapter is 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Rc1
The author examines 8.Be2 and 8.Bd3 as well. After 8.Rc1, Black follows with 8...Nc6 9.a3 dxc4
In his comments to this position, Eljanov writes:
This is one of the two possible moves here. The alternative is 9...Be7. While both options are equally good, 9...dxc4 is an immediate equalizer. On the other hand, 9...Be7 offers more chances to fight. I decided to present both moves so that you can make a choice depending on your taste, mood, and tournament situation.
Chapter 3 - 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Nxd5 exd5 10.Bd3
It is quite logical to bring the last minor piece into the game. Nevertheless, Black's next move would force White to make some concessions. Black should play 10...Bb4+ This is the point. White should decide whether to spoil the coordination of his minor pieces or leave the king in the centre.
In this position, White has three moves - 11.Kf1, 11.Ke2, and 11.Nd2. Of course, Eljanov examines all of them in detail. Nowadays, the most critical seems to be 11.Nd2 in response to which the author suggests 11...d4.
This fashionable move makes a lot of sense. Since White does not control the d4-square, Black seizes the opportunity to strike in the centre.11...Nc6 was always considered to be the main line. The subsequent analysis illustrates the power of Black's counterplay.
Chapter 4 - 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Nxd5 exd5 10.a3
This is the most principled move. Now, when the b4-square is under control, White is planning to proceed with the development of his pieces.
The most important crossroads of the chapter is reached after 10...Nc6 11.Bd3 Bb6 12.0-0 Bg4 13.h3 Bh5
In this position, Eljanov examines no less than five continuations - 14.Rc1, 14.Bb5, 14.Bb1, 14.Be2, and 14.b4 which is the most critical one. In his in-depth analysis, the author demonstrates that Black has nothing to worry about in the arising positions.
Chapter 5 - 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Qc2 - Sidelines
This is by far White's most critical continuation. With his last move, he is freeing the d1-square for the rook. In general, White has two ways of increasing the pressure on d5 - 0-0-0 and Rd1.
The critical position arises after 8...Nc6 9.a3 (Eljanov also covers 9.Rd1) 9...Qa5
This is the most important tabiya of the variation. Nowadays, White's main continuation is by far 10.Rd1. This move is dealt with in the next chapters of the database. In the current chapter, the author covers White's alternatives on move 10. The most important one is of course 10.0-0-0.
This move was popular over 20 years ago but gradually went out of fashion. Recently it was met in several top-level games but without much success from the white side. In his analysis, Eljanov proves that Black is doing perfectly fine in all the lines.
Besides 10.0-0-0, the author also examines 10.Nd2, 10.Ra2, and 10.Rc1. Although these lines are not dangerous for Black, he should know what he is doing.
Chapter 6 - 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Qc2 Nc6 9.a3 Qa5 10.Rd1 - Introduction