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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) The Catalan: Move by Move (Read 4213 times)
Stigma
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Re: The Catalan: Move by Move
Reply #36 - 07/21/17 at 00:55:23
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MNb wrote on 07/16/17 at 19:40:00:
And this makes me wonder if Black can't apply this principle against 4.e3 as well: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 dxc4 4.e3 a6 5.Bxc4 b5 (to avoid c5 6.a4 Nf6 7.O-O, the Rubinstein Variation of the QGA, if desirable) 6.Bd3 c5 7.a4 b4 8.O-O (if White can't postpone this in a meaningful way 5...b5 is slightly more precise indeed) Bb7 9.Nbd2 Nf6 10.e4 Nc6.

One thought occured to me: Why even play ...a6 here? Lines in the QGA where Black plays ...b5 and meets a2-a4 with ...b4 have been giving White headaches for a few years now. If Black can get there without spending a tempo on ...a6 (early on; any further a4-a5!? should still usually met with ...a6), that can only be to Black's advantage.

So 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 dxc4 4.e3 b5!?
This seems to be a specialty of Austrian IM Norbert Sommerbauer and Israeli GM Tamir Nabaty, among others.* For instance
5.a4 (almost everybody plays this) 5...b4 6.Bxc4 Bb7!? (or 6...Nf6 first) 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Nbd2 Be7. Here White has tried several moves, but Black generally scores well. Perhaps the 9.a5 a6 10.Qa4+!? of Postny-Nabaty, Tiberias ch-IRS 2016 is critical. Nabaty felt compelled to play the passive 10...Nfd7 and lost, while something like 10...Qd7 11.Ne5 Qxa4 12.Rxa4 Nbd7 13.Nxd7 Nxd7 14.Nb3 0-0 15.Bd2 Rfc8 may be slightly better for White even though he can't take the b4 pawn.

Black can also fiddle with the move order and for instance castle before playing ...Bb7, but that allows White to get in e3-e4 (probably Black should then try to answer with a quick ...c5).

The alternative 5.b3 doesn't look too dangerous: 5...cxb3 6.Bb5+ c6 7.Bc4 and here Nabaty has played 7...Bb4+ 8.Nbd2 Bc3!?, but I don't see much wrong with simply 7...bxa2, i.e. 8.Rxa2 Nd7 9.Bd2 a5 10.0-0 Ngf6. Maybe White has enough compensation for the pawn, but if he wins it back, all the queenside pawns are likely to be elimated, which tends to make the position drawish - a typical scenario in these ...b5-b4 lines.

P.S.: Another reason it would be nice to get this to work for Black is nothing stops him from using it via the regular QGA move order: 3.Nf3 e6. You just have to choose which you're more afraid of: 3.Nc3 in the QGD or 3.e4 and 3.e3 in the QGA.

* Edit: Some of the games I've looked at started something like 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 b5. I'm not sure how much difference ...Nf6 (versus ...e6) makes here. It certainly takes away Nabaty's 5.b3 cxb3 6.Bxb5+ c6 7.Bc4 Bb4+!? idea.
  

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Stigma
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Re: The Catalan: Move by Move
Reply #35 - 07/18/17 at 20:01:16
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MNb wrote on 07/18/17 at 10:50:07:
This version of the Closed Catalan gives White exactly that kind of two results play, as Scherbakov implicitly admits in the chapter on 4.Nbd2 and the gruesome statistics confirm. Avoiding bad moves later on won't be sufficient to change that, I'm afraid.

There are some lines in the Closed Catalan where Nc3 instead of Nbd2 has been recommended for White; maybe against Black's standard setup with c6/Nbd7/Be7/0-0/b6/Bb7; I'm not sure. At least you avoid any Nc3 lines after 4.Nbd2. But I notice now that Avrukh recommends putting the knight on d2 anyway in the most recent version of his Catalan repertoire, so you may be right that 4.Nbd2 e6 5.g3 is a problem for Black. Surely to some extent a matter of taste though.

The problem with statistics in the Closed Catalan is so many Black players end up in it without really knowing what they're doing, and without serious preparation the positions are clearly easier to play for White. But if Black goes into it deliberately and is prepared, the Closed is a serious defence that can lead to interesting middlegames. You could even say many White players are used to facing unprepared opponents in this line, and so would be unpleasantly surprised to encounter good preparation there! (Though this argument carries much less weight in corr. if that's where you were considering the Triangle.)
  

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MNb
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Re: The Catalan: Move by Move
Reply #34 - 07/18/17 at 10:50:07
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If statistics are gruesome we should first ask ourselves if we think the variation worth bothering. When I want to play an opening that makes things difficult for White it seems to me that a Closed Catalan that might be somewhat inferior due to an early ...c6 is not the right choice for Black.
Scherbakov writes: "As White, strong players often try to get a position where they can safely aim for two results, a win or a draw, without any risk of losing the game. But in the Noteboom White never feels comfortable and any result is certainly possible."
This version of the Closed Catalan gives White exactly that kind of two results play, as Scherbakov implicitly admits in the chapter on 4.Nbd2 and the gruesome statistics confirm. Avoiding bad moves later on won't be sufficient to change that, I'm afraid.
  

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Re: The Catalan: Move by Move
Reply #33 - 07/18/17 at 07:26:25
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1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4 Bd6 4.Bg3: 4...Qe7 is what I would play. I suppose it is true that black will not always get in ...e6-e5. For example after 5.c4 or 5.Nc3. But system moves like 5.e3 or 5.Nbd2 will allow it.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nbd2 e6 5.g3: I don't play the closed against the Catalan, so I won't offer an opinion on how black is doing in this version. Since the closed is a recognized line for black, it's hard for me to believe that white can get more than a normal slight edge. If the database statistics are "gruesome", we should just not repeat the bad followup moves that the blacks have been playing. I do follow, though, that Nbd2 + g2-g3 is an annoying "anti" for Triangle players.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nbd2 e6 5.e3 c5 6.b3: I can't really debate whether Scherbakov understands chess better than Alekhine. I would have to be closer to their level to even begin to answer the question. 6.b3 seems like a reasonable try for white. If black gives white the hanging pawns then the play becomes sharp, and the lost tempo ...c7-c6-c5 is likely to hurt. The reason I don't know more about this plan for white is because in the pure Slav move order I answer 4.Nbd2 with 4...g6.
  
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MNb
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Re: The Catalan: Move by Move
Reply #32 - 07/18/17 at 03:24:38
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an ordinary chessplayer wrote on 07/17/17 at 21:05:44:
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nbd2 e6 5.e3 c5! = was given by Alekhine, and he is correct on this one. At worst black gets a decent IQP position.

Unfortunately Ruslan Scherbakov disagrees and I have the weird impression that he understands a little more about chess than any chessplayer up to 1946 ever could, including worldchampions. The reason is 6.b3 and White does very well. But even worse - what would a Catalan player do at move five!? Quick, you have only one guess. And then I suggest you to search your database for statistics. They are gruesome.
The Triangle simply isn't a problem for the Catalan player like 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 dxc4 might be.

Indeed I would not mind playing 4.Qc2 dxc4 5.Qxc4 Nf6 and 6...b5 as Black. That kind of risky, active play is what Black is looking for. It's also not what Black gets after 4.Nbd2.

Stigma wrote on 07/17/17 at 18:19:13:
At least after 4.Nbd2 f5 it's a Stonewall where White has given up most of his options.

That's not really a consolation as soon as you realize how well Scherbakov's suggestions do for White in practice: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c6 4.Nbd2 f5 5.g3 Nf6 6.Bg2 Bd6 (Be7 fares even worse) 7.O-O Nbd7 8.Ne1 or 7...O-O 8.Ne5. It seems to me that such positions are what Catalan players dream of.
But of course, to quote JEH: that's something for another thread, even if relevant if you play the Catalan.
It will bec lear why 3...dxc4 interests me. I plan to take a closer look at the Rubinstein Variation of the QGA in the near future.
  

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ErictheRed
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Re: The Catalan: Move by Move
Reply #31 - 07/18/17 at 02:26:04
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an ordinary chessplayer wrote on 07/17/17 at 21:05:44:
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nbd2 e6 5.e3 c5! = was given by Alekhine, and he is correct on this one. At worst black gets a decent IQP position.


Did Alekhine think that 5.g3 was also so easy?
  
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Re: The Catalan: Move by Move
Reply #30 - 07/17/17 at 23:35:53
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an ordinary chessplayer wrote on 07/17/17 at 21:05:44:
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 Be7 and 3.Bf4 Bd6 are both instant equalizers. Seriously. Black gets in ...e6-e5.

That's quite a bold statement. Maybe you're right in the Torre case (I know even less about that), but surely in the London White just goes 3.Bf4 Bd6 4.Bg3 followed by e3, Nbd2 etc., which is liable to transpose to the main line? I don't see how Black gets in ...e6-e5.
  

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Re: The Catalan: Move by Move
Reply #29 - 07/17/17 at 21:30:26
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MNb wrote on 07/17/17 at 17:38:12:
JEH wrote on 07/17/17 at 10:07:47:
I'm actually working on doing that  Cool

Keep us informed! Where I'm at:
the Noteboom 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c6 allows 4.Nbd2 (more annoying than 4.Qc2 imo) and Black has basically the choice between a Tarrasch with a tempo down, a Catalan and the main line of the Stonewall;
Ragosin-like variations allow White to transpose to the mainline of the Nimzo-Indian Rubinstein (he again) with 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 (oh yeah - let's not forget 4.g3 either) Bb4 (Nbd7 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bf4) 5.e3.


A topic for another thread  Wink
  

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Re: The Catalan: Move by Move
Reply #28 - 07/17/17 at 21:05:44
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There is a lot going on in this thread.
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 Be7 and 3.Bf4 Bd6 are both instant equalizers. Seriously. Black gets in ...e6-e5.
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 dxc4 4.g3 c5 5.Bg2 Nc6: I once lost to 6.Ne5!? (maybe it's ??).
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 dxc4 4.Qa4+ (possibly !) 4...c6!? looks like the 3...c6 4.Qc2 line. Not my preference, just noticing.
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nbd2 e6 5.e3 c5! = was given by Alekhine, and he is correct on this one. At worst black gets a decent IQP position.
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3: I have even played Steinitz's 3...dxc4?! here. 4.e4 should be +/- but somehow my opponents haven't found the way.
  
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Re: The Catalan: Move by Move
Reply #27 - 07/17/17 at 18:57:53
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Maybe MNb finds 4.Qc2 in the Triangle less annoying because Black can still go 4...dxc4 5.Qxc4 b5 (or 5...Nf6 and 6...b5)?  The problem (or annoyance) with 4...Nf6 is not the anti-Meran, but 5.Bg5!. 

MNb's comment reminds me that when I tried playing the Slav for a bit, I found 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nbd2 surprisingly annoying to deal with.  Luckily, I only faced it in a casual game against IM Lakdawala, but I never found a line that I really wanted to play as Black in there.  Probably, 4...g6 comes closest.

Back to the book that this thread is (supposedly) about, McDonald does cover 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 dc 5.Qa4+ as I mentioned, so it would be a good resource for helping sort out the 3.Nf3 dxc4 line if 4.Qa4+ is to your liking.
  
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Re: The Catalan: Move by Move
Reply #26 - 07/17/17 at 18:19:13
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There is one further option for White after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 dxc4, namely 4.Qa4+. This is similar to the Mannheim variation of the QGA (2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Qa4+) and can directly transpose there.

Both lines were recommended by Burgess in A Cunning Chess Opening Repertoire for White, and I've been meaning to look into them for ages. These lines are not regarded as giving White much, but just leafing through Burgess' book they clearly lead to interesting, complex middlegames with everything to play for. Could be something to look into for the desperate Catalan player worried about 3...dxc4!!!.  Smiley

MNb wrote on 07/17/17 at 17:38:12:
Where I'm at:
the Noteboom 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c6 allows 4.Nbd2 (more annoying than 4.Qc2 imo) and Black has basically the choice between a Tarrasch with a tempo down, a Catalan and the main line of the Stonewall;

At least after 4.Nbd2 f5 it's a Stonewall where White has given up most of his options: No Nh3 line, no Bf4 line, no early b3/Ba3, and no fashionable Nc3/Qc2. It should be possible for Black to prepare this limited part of the Stonewall if he has any affinity for the defence - admittedly I don't!

But I wonder why you think 4.Qc2 is less annoying? With that White keeps the option of playing the critical Nc3/Qc2 setup that both Avrukh and Wojo's Weapons recommended against the Stonewall.

Maybe Black should simply go 4...Nf6 against 4.Qc2 and allow the Anti-Meran and the Closed Catalan (where arguably White would prefer not to play Qc2 this early).
  

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Re: The Catalan: Move by Move
Reply #25 - 07/17/17 at 17:38:12
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MNb wrote on 07/17/17 at 01:52:19:
And that all is nothing compared to the problems when you try to build a repertoire around the Von Hennig-Schara Gambit.


JEH wrote on 07/17/17 at 10:07:47:
I'm actually working on doing that  Cool

Keep us informed! Where I'm at:
the Noteboom 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c6 allows 4.Nbd2 (more annoying than 4.Qc2 imo) and Black has basically the choice between a Tarrasch with a tempo down, a Catalan and the main line of the Stonewall;
Ragosin-like variations allow White to transpose to the mainline of the Nimzo-Indian Rubinstein (he again) with 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 (oh yeah - let's not forget 4.g3 either) Bb4 (Nbd7 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bf4) 5.e3.

Stigma wrote on 07/17/17 at 02:48:02:
I'm not sure if this was a joke or not. But actually, building a repertoire around the Von Hennig-Schara is exactly where this line 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 dxc4 would come in very handy! You already have your line against 3.Nc3, but need to do something different against 3.Nf3, which prevents the VHS...

Half and half. When I wrote this I was thinking of IM Bronznik's recommendation to play the Noteboom - and allowing White to play the frigging main line (ie with g2-g3) of the Stonewall. Also the potential of 3
...dxc4 to complement the VHS was what drew my attention in the first place.

Stigma wrote on 07/17/17 at 02:48:02:
Though maybe the problem is the Von Hennig-Schara itself is dubious.,

Ah, but that's a given that has to be accepted. Ask Dutch IM Rini Kuijf.
  

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Re: The Catalan: Move by Move
Reply #24 - 07/17/17 at 10:07:47
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MNb wrote on 07/17/17 at 01:52:19:
And that all is nothing compared to the problems when you try to build a repertoire around the Von Hennig-Schara Gambit.


I'm actually working on doing that  Cool
  

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Re: The Catalan: Move by Move
Reply #23 - 07/17/17 at 06:04:45
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Stigma wrote on 07/17/17 at 02:48:02:
I'm not sure if this was a joke or not. But actually, building a repertoire around the Von Hennig-Schara is exactly where this line 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 dxc4 would come in very handy!


I was actually thinking that 3.Nf3 dxc4 could serve Noteboom players well, since 3...c6 4.Qc2 is a little annoying.  All a matter of taste, of course.

Stigma wrote on 07/17/17 at 02:48:02:
But If I were to try this, I would be worried about the London and the Torre: 1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Bf4 and 3.Bg5 (or 3.c3 planning Bg5) respectively. I know White players of these openings are usually happy to see an early ...d5 and ...e6 from Black, when they can look forward to either using the e5 square for the knight and going f2-f4 soon, or getting in e3-e4 at a favorable moment. Though maybe this is "merely" a stylistic problem, not an objectively threatening one?


Luckily, we have a thread for that!  Somewhere...
  
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Re: The Catalan: Move by Move
Reply #22 - 07/17/17 at 02:48:02
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MNb wrote on 07/15/17 at 16:38:58:
Stigma wrote on 07/15/17 at 08:05:03:
[ Black has delayed ...Nf6 and can use that tempo to get his queenside development going.

If yes, do you have a concrete line to demonstrate it?

I will try to post some relevant lines on this, but I've just had too much work over the weekend. Stay tuned...

MNb wrote on 07/17/17 at 01:52:19:
And that all is nothing compared to the problems when you try to build a repertoire around the Von Hennig-Schara Gambit.

I'm not sure if this was a joke or not. But actually, building a repertoire around the Von Hennig-Schara is exactly where this line 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 dxc4 would come in very handy! You already have your line against 3.Nc3, but need to do something different against 3.Nf3, which prevents the VHS...

Though maybe the problem is the Von Hennig-Schara itself is dubious. I wouldn't really know why; I'm just lucky that nobody's played it against me while I've allowed it in serious games for years without knowing much more than Qa4+ and Qxd4.

Another repertoire quandary where 3...dxc4 could be the right puzzle piece is the combination French Defence/English Defence. 1.e4 e6, 1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6 and 1.c4 b6 are all covered, but 1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 is a problem. So why not 2...d5 intending 3.c4 dxc4!!! (retaining the three exclams for consistency!)

But If I were to try this, I would be worried about the London and the Torre: 1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Bf4 and 3.Bg5 (or 3.c3 planning Bg5) respectively. I know White players of these openings are usually happy to see an early ...d5 and ...e6 from Black, when they can look forward to either using the e5 square for the knight and going f2-f4 soon, or getting in e3-e4 at a favorable moment. Though maybe this is "merely" a stylistic problem, not an objectively threatening one?
  

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