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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French? (Read 1150 times)
Jack Hughes
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Re: Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French?
Reply #27 - 02/14/20 at 18:31:17
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Arnaudov wrote on 02/14/20 at 11:01:48:
The Semi-Slave it is! (Yay.)

I have availed myself of both the Schandorff GR 20 and Vigorito's earlier work (introductory info and early moves). Scanning Schandorff and looking at his emphasis/preference for ...dxc4 is, as you say, intriguing. I'm all in: my decision to play 1 d4 as White and Schandorff's book, with your endorsement, inspired me to subscribe to the d4 d5 section.

Once I have got these better digested I'm sure I would enjoy your course on Chessable, thank you!

Good luck with the US Champion!  Wink

Well, I would note that what exists of it currently (and only as a Lichess study, it is still at least a few months away from becoming a course on Chessable) is intended exactly to provide an easier starting point than the existing literature. So I would hope it would be more useful now than after reading those books - certainly, feedback from a newbie to the opening would be greatly appreciated.
Anyway, enough self promotion. Both of those books are good, although Vigorito's is obviously a little dated and this is especially relevant to his coverage of non Semi-Slav lines. Schandorff's book by contrast holds up abnormally well for a by now roughly five year old book, and there are only a few areas where I disagree with his recommendations. Good luck with the Semi-Slav!
« Last Edit: 02/14/20 at 20:00:41 by Jack Hughes »  
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Re: Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French?
Reply #26 - 02/14/20 at 16:12:22
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Lauri Torni wrote on 02/14/20 at 13:40:28:
Examples of possible (approximative) pairs (I know. This is also matter of taste.): 
Sweshnikov and Grynfeld
Petroff and QGA
French and KI
Semi-slav and Najdorf
Spanish and NI
Caro-Kann and Slav


I don't find much in common between any of these, but the pairing that made the least sense to me was the first. In the Grünfeld, Black has no structural weaknesses, but must contend with White's imposing pawn centre. Conversely, in the Sveshnikov, Black has a glaring hole on -d5 and a central majority.
Black gets active piece play in both, sure, but it seems a little slim to base any analogy off of that criterium alone.
If I had to choose an e4 opening that shares something in common with the Grünfeld, it would have to be the ...g6 lines of either the Alekhine or the 2. ...Nf6 Scandinavian.
  
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Lauri Torni
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Re: Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French?
Reply #25 - 02/14/20 at 13:40:28
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I don't think trying to find similar openings for black against 1.e4 and 1.d4, not to speak about 1.c4 and 1.Nf3, is fruitful. The positions are always too different.

However, it might be possible to find openings shearing such aspects as:

pawn structure closed/flexible/open
theoretically heavy/decent/light
tactically heavy/decent/light
positionally complex/decent/simple
positionally healthy/unhealthy but dynamic
etc.

Examples of possible (approximative) pairs (I know. This is also matter of taste.): 
Sweshnikov and Grynfeld
Petroff and QGA
French and KI
Semi-slav and Najdorf
Spanish and NI
Caro-Kann and Slav


  

1.Nf3! -  beat your opponent by killing his zest for life.
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Arnaudov
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Re: Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French?
Reply #24 - 02/14/20 at 11:01:48
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The Semi-Slave it is! (Yay.)

I have availed myself of both the Schandorff GR 20 and Vigorito's earlier work (introductory info and early moves). Scanning Schandorff and looking at his emphasis/preference for ...dxc4 is, as you say, intriguing. I'm all in: my decision to play 1 d4 as White and Schandorff's book, with your endorsement, inspired me to subscribe to the d4 d5 section.

Once I have got these better digested I'm sure I would enjoy your course on Chessable, thank you!

Good luck with the US Champion!  Wink
  
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Jack Hughes
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Re: Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French?
Reply #23 - 02/13/20 at 23:59:22
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Arnaudov wrote on 02/13/20 at 20:42:25:
Jack Hughes wrote on 02/12/20 at 20:10:34:
If you're happy with the Burn Variation then maybe you wouldn't be too bothered by this. To help figure out if this bothers you I would recommend just clicking through a database for a moves in the lines where black does this (in the Semi-Slav this would be the Botvinnik/Anti-Moscow Gambit and the Meran) and thinking about whether you're concerned by the lack of a pawn on d5.


Is this the sort of line you mean?

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 e6 5 Bg5 Nbd7 6 e3 h6 7 Bh4 g5 8 Bg3 Nh5 9 Qc2 Nxg3 10 hxg3 Bg7 11 O-O-O Qe7 12 Kb1 dxc4

or

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 e3 e6 5 Nf3 Nbd7 6 Qc2 Bd6 7 Bd3 O-O 8 O-O dxc4 

I'd be happy to defend such positions. Maybe the Semi-Slav would work for me after all.

Yes, those are the sorts of positions I was talking about. If you're happy with them then I think you should be good to go.
In fact in the latter line black isn't really forced to take on c4, with 6... b6 and especially 8... e5 being pretty reasonable alternatives. In terms of lines that practically force you to take on c4 6. Bd3 (the Meran) would be the problem, since 6... Bd6 7. e4 is a very easy and pleasant advantage for white. Theoretically speaking however 6. Bd3 has fallen under hard times recently, and so if you're taking on c4 in the 6. Qc2 (Anti-Meran) lines then the Meran should be even less of a problem. After 5. Bg5 there is also the immediate 5... dxc4 (the Botvinnik Variation), a line which I love to a possibly slightly unhealthy degree. In fact it does get compared to a major line of the French (the Winawer Poisoned Pawn), albeit because they are often identified as the two sharpest lines in all of chess. In general I would say that if you're happy with the two positions listed above then you should be good to go with the Semi-Slav. There is still the question of move order, with the main options being the Triangle (1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. Nf3 Nf6 and 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 c6) and Slav (1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3/Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3/Nf3 e6), assuming you don't want to learn the Nimzo. The former allows the Marshall Gambit (1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. e4) and Catalan; the latter allows the Exchange Slav (1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. cxd5) and Slow Slav (1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3), all of which are just as critical as anything in the Semi-Slav.
If you're interested in studying the Semi-Slav then feel free to contact me on Lichess (@jgh1996). Before I found out that I would have to compete with Sam Shankland I made a start working on a potential Semi-Slav course for black on Chessable  in the form of a Lichess study that I would be willing to share. It's nowhere near complete, and with Shankland having an upcoming course I don't know if it ever will be, but the first two chapters are fairly close and currently provide a roughly 45,000 word introduction to the Semi-Slav and the lines I was/am intending to recommend.
As far as books go it was Lar Schandorff's 'Grandmaster Repertoire' volume that first piqued my interest in the opening, and theoretically speaking its chosen lines are still holding up quite well. It does however start with the Semi-Slav itself so you would need to supplement it with another book covering white's alternatives.
  
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Re: Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French?
Reply #22 - 02/13/20 at 20:42:25
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Jack Hughes wrote on 02/12/20 at 20:10:34:
If you're happy with the Burn Variation then maybe you wouldn't be too bothered by this. To help figure out if this bothers you I would recommend just clicking through a database for a moves in the lines where black does this (in the Semi-Slav this would be the Botvinnik/Anti-Moscow Gambit and the Meran) and thinking about whether you're concerned by the lack of a pawn on d5.


Is this the sort of line you mean?

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 e6 5 Bg5 Nbd7 6 e3 h6 7 Bh4 g5 8 Bg3 Nh5 9 Qc2 Nxg3 10 hxg3 Bg7 11 O-O-O Qe7 12 Kb1 dxc4

or

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 e3 e6 5 Nf3 Nbd7 6 Qc2 Bd6 7 Bd3 O-O 8 O-O dxc4 

I'd be happy to defend such positions. Maybe the Semi-Slav would work for me after all.
  
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Re: Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French?
Reply #21 - 02/13/20 at 18:42:17
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LeeRoth wrote on 02/12/20 at 23:58:19:
A friend of mine plays the Polish Defense (1.d4 b5!) with the idea of aiming for French-like positions.  Most of the time he succeeds.  For example:  1.d4 b5 2.e4 Bb7 3.f3 a6 4.Be3 e6 5.Nd2 Nf6 6.c3 Be7 7.Bd3 is Petrosian-Spassky, Wch 1966.  And now, instead of Spassky's 7..d6, he plays 7..d5 instead.  After 8.e5 Nfd7 9.f4 c5, it's bascially a French.  Against other White set-ups, he basically plays the same (..e6 and ..d5). 
Wink      


Wild! I'll check that out also. Thanks.
  
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Re: Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French?
Reply #20 - 02/13/20 at 18:40:28
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Jack Hughes wrote on 02/12/20 at 20:10:34:
Okay, there is all very helpful - I'm starting to get a better idea of what you're looking for! I can add the following points.
1. Your explanation for why you would prefer not to fianchetto your king's bishop is more relatable than I had expected - I also prefer my bishops pointing at the enemy king! That being said, I would emphasise that the bishop is only one piece and that if you are hoping to actually attack your opponent's king rather than just point bishops at it it would be most unwise to reject the KID. Of course in terms of how active the bishop is it really depends on the position. In the thematic KID pawn structure the KID bishop is the direct analogue of the light-squared bishop in the thematic French structure, with all the same advantages and disadvantages. By contrast in the Modern Benoni structure or in typical Grunfeld positions its view of the board is left open, and very often it is black's most active piece.


I must say that, taking what you said here together with the fact that many of my French heroes play the KID, I do not serve myself well not to take another and more serious look at it. I am not so averse to the fianchetto as I am to an early bishop-for-knight trade that I simply will not do it. I may well give it a go.

Quote:
2. On second thought I might actually remove the Semi-Slav, as well as the Ragozin and Vienna, from that list.

D'oh! and I thought the Semi-Slav might be the solution.

Quote:
3. I'm glad to hear that you're not trying to concede a space disadvantage as white. ... if to you it's just the f7-e6-d5 pawn chain then that makes a huge difference.

Yes; in a nutshell that's the gist of it.

Quote:
4. Your last point is probably the most important one. Abstract discussions about which openings most resemble the black side of the French are all well and good, but at the end of the day the important thing is just how you feel in the positions that you get. Perhaps you will find things you like in them that remind you of certain characteristics of the French; maybe you will even find things you like that you don't find or even sorely miss as black in the French!

Yes, I hope so! and you have offered a great deal of insight and good counsel, Jack, thank you!
  
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Re: Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French?
Reply #19 - 02/13/20 at 14:45:17
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Arnaudov wrote on 02/12/20 at 13:30:43:
I like what you recommended vs 1 d4 but am a little puzzled by the last part of this sentence. This would include the Semi-Slav? In fact hardly anyone has mentioned the Semi-Slav which looks to me like an opening that maintains a sturdy pawn chain into the middlegame. Surely I am missing something important there?

My understanding was that if white plays ambitiously against the Semi-Slav then black has to give up the centre. Presumably this is why nobody suggested it initially.
  
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Re: Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French?
Reply #18 - 02/12/20 at 23:58:19
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A friend of mine plays the Polish Defense (1.d4 b5!) with the idea of aiming for French-like positions.  Most of the time he succeeds.  For example:  1.d4 b5 2.e4 Bb7 3.f3 a6 4.Be3 e6 5.Nd2 Nf6 6.c3 Be7 7.Bd3 is Petrosian-Spassky, Wch 1966.  And now, instead of Spassky's 7..d6, he plays 7..d5 instead.  After 8.e5 Nfd7 9.f4 c5, it's bascially a French.  Against other White set-ups, he basically plays the same (..e6 and ..d5). 

Wink

  
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Re: Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French?
Reply #17 - 02/12/20 at 20:10:34
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Arnaudov wrote on 02/12/20 at 13:30:43:
Jack Hughes wrote on 02/11/20 at 22:58:39:
To be honest I still find it quite difficult to say, because I'm not entirely sure what you're hoping to replicate from the French. It would be helpful to have a brief overview of what you play against white's main tries, what you like about them and so on.


Wow. Thank you for the real thought and energy in your response.

I suppose that my dislike for fianchettoing the KB is because I prefer to aim it at the enemy king (especially after he castles) rather than at the opposite corner. It may exert pressure on the center but I just feel that a fianchettoed bishop is an inactive piece waiting to come out in the late middlegame.

I like to keep my bishops active, and am not generally fond of trading them off early for a knight for the sake of doubled pawns, so I shie away from the Winawer, the Nimzo or Ragozin (though I mentioned them earlier as possible choices, I simply do not like them for that reason). Playing the French vs 3 Nc3 I play 3...Nf6 and the Burn v. 4 Bg5 (also ...Nf6 vs the Tarrasch).

Against 1. d4 play literally any QGD system other than the Semi-Tarrasch (where black meets cxd5 with ...Nxd5) or any branch of the Slav.

I like what you recommended vs 1 d4 but am a little puzzled by the last part of this sentence. This would include the Semi-Slav? In fact hardly anyone has mentioned the Semi-Slav which looks to me like an opening that maintains a sturdy pawn chain into the middlegame. Surely I am missing something important there?

I am not looking for an opening as White that cedes space to Black with hopes of wresting it from him later. That is, to my mind, Black's job against White. What I am looking for is similar pawn structures and middlegame positions to those that I am used to in the French, if possible. Yours is the second suggestion of "e3 Poison" for White. I looked at it on Amazon etc., and it indeed looks like what I think I'm looking for. 

In any case I can see that I have a few months of experimentation, trial and error, and lost games ahead of me. And the switch from 1 e4 to 1 d4 itself is daunting enough.  Huh

Thank you!



Okay, there is all very helpful - I'm starting to get a better idea of what you're looking for! I can add the following points.
1. Your explanation for why you would prefer not to fianchetto your king's bishop is more relatable than I had expected - I also prefer my bishops pointing at the enemy king! That being said, I would emphasise that the bishop is only one piece and that if you are hoping to actually attack your opponent's king rather than just point bishops at it it would be most unwise to reject the KID. Of course in terms of how active the bishop is it really depends on the position. In the thematic KID pawn structure the KID bishop is the direct analogue of the light-squared bishop in the thematic French structure, with all the same advantages and disadvantages. By contrast in the Modern Benoni structure or in typical Grunfeld positions its view of the board is left open, and very often it is black's most active piece.
2. On second thought I might actually remove the Semi-Slav, as well as the Ragozin and Vienna, from that list.  The reason I listed the Semi-Tarrasch as the only exception is that it is the only QGD mainline where black intends to meet an early cxd5 with ...Nxd5 rather than ...exd5.  But this point is rather moot when one remembers that in the above listed openings black very often deliberately breaks up the central pawn chain with an early ...dxc4 in the hope of gaining concrete play against the white centre. On the other hand if you're happy with the Burn Variation then maybe you wouldn't be too bothered by this. To help figure out if this bothers you I would recommend just clicking through a database for a moves in the lines where black does this (in the Semi-Slav this would be the Botvinnik/Anti-Moscow Gambit and the Meran) and thinking about whether you're concerned by the lack of a pawn on d5.
3. I'm glad to hear that you're not trying to concede a space disadvantage as white. I was trying not to be rude, perhaps unsuccessfully, and avoid showing my distaste for such a blatant misuse of the white pieces! In my mind the defining characteristic of a French pawn structure is the space advantage (white pawn on e5 versus black pawn on e6), but if to you it's just the f7-e6-d5 pawn chain then that makes a huge difference.
4. Your last point is probably the most important one. Abstract discussions about which openings most resemble the black side of the French are all well and good, but at the end of the day the important thing is just how you feel in the positions that you get. Perhaps you will find things you like in them that remind you of certain characteristics of the French; maybe you will even find things you like that you don't find or even sorely miss as black in the French!
  
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Re: Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French?
Reply #16 - 02/12/20 at 20:00:24
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Straggler wrote on 02/12/20 at 18:14:21:
For repertoires with 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Bb4+, I'd suggest you get hold of Eingorn's Rock Solid Opening Repertoire for Black and/or Antic & Maksimovic's The Modern Bogo. Antic & Maksimovic also did a companion book on the French, and they say somewhere in the Bogo book that one of the lines they recommend (I can't remember which) resembles their lines in the Tarrasch French.

"In the line 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Nbd2 we suggest 4...0-0, and then possibly 5.a3 Be7 6.e4 d5. The play is very dynamic and bears lots of similarities to the Tarrasch French, where the extra tempo with the white pawn on a3 doesn't make a difference since his pawn on c4 and knight on d2 are not compatible." (page 7)

"This position has similarities with the Morozevich Variation in the Tarrasch Variation of the French Defence." (page 357)

"Among other things, the move order 1.d4 e6 is primarily suitable for players of the French Defence, and the position in the main line of the Bogo-Indian has a lot of similarities with the Tarrasch Variation." (page 360)

"Unquestionably this position bears a great resemblance with the Morozevich Variation of the Tarrasch Defence with an extra tempo for White." (page 373)
  
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Re: Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French?
Reply #15 - 02/12/20 at 18:39:24
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Uberdecker wrote on 02/12/20 at 16:58:52:
Arnaudov wrote on 02/12/20 at 13:30:43:
I like to keep my bishops active

Try and convince your Bc8 of this the next time you enter the Steinitz variation !

Hah! Fair point.  Cheesy
Quote:
Seriously though, I don't think you will find a definitive answer to your question despite the outstanding responses that have already been offered.

Indeed. I am very pleasantly surprised with the responses I've gotten that have not been dismissive or demeaning, but actually been interested and interesting, not to mention helpful to my thinking.
Quote:
I think that in the search for a defence to 1.d4, you would be better off basing your choice on different criteria than wanting it to be as closely related as possible to yout defence to 1.e4.

I've started to think the same thing.

Quote:
In this case, as has already been mentionned 1.d4 e6 is a smart choice and you have already narrowed down your options considerably.
After 2.c4, you are then left with 2. ...d5 (QGD, Tarrash, Semi-Slav, Ragozin etc), 2. ...Nf6 Nimzo + 17/Bogo/QGD etc, 2. ...f5 (Classical or Stonewall Dutch), 2. ...b6 English Defence, offbeat and risky but can be rewarding with good prep, 2. ...Bb4+ Keres Defence, also unusual but very  playable, (cf. Eingorn's works and practice), 2. ...c5 which is a very rare but perfectly viable route to the Modern Benoni and I can't resist but add my own 2. ...Nc6 (cf. thread in "Daring Defences")
Hopefully, narrowed down to these options, the choice will seem less daunting and you can choose based on what you feel most comfortable with after some trial and error.


Thank you, I appreciate your straightforward post. Based on what has been written here I think I will spend some time learning the Semi-Slav. And the Queen's Gambit as White. These are probably the closest that I will find regarding a similarity of pawn structure and middlegame plans so that I won't feel entirely like a fish out of water.
  
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Re: Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French?
Reply #14 - 02/12/20 at 18:14:21
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For repertoires with 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Bb4+, I'd suggest you get hold of Eingorn's Rock Solid Opening Repertoire for Black and/or Antic & Maksimovic's The Modern Bogo. Antic & Maksimovic also did a companion book on the French, and they say somewhere in the Bogo book that one of the lines they recommend (I can't remember which) resembles their lines in the Tarrasch French.
  
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Re: Which 1 d4 Defense is Most Like the French?
Reply #13 - 02/12/20 at 16:58:52
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Arnaudov wrote on 02/12/20 at 13:30:43:
I like to keep my bishops active


Try and convince your Bc8 of this the next time you enter the Steinitz variation !
Seriously though, I don't think you will find a definitive answer to your question despite the outstanding responses that have already been offered. The truth of the matter is that you will not be able de replicate French-like positions in non-e4 openings. After all, White also has a say on the direction of the game.

I think that in the search for a defence to 1.d4, you would be better off basing your choice on different criteria than wanting it to be as closely related as possible to yout defence to 1.e4.

Unless of course, you're not acually trying to reach similar positions but simply looking to make your repertoire more compact by avoiding the sidelines against the traditional defences to 1.d4.
In this case, as has already been mentionned 1.d4 e6 is a smart choice and you have already narrowed down your options considerably.
After 2.c4, you are then left with 2. ...d5 (QGD, Tarrash, Semi-Slav, Ragozin etc), 2. ...Nf6 Nimzo + QID/Bogo/QGD etc, 2. ...f5 (Classical or Stonewall Dutch), 2. ...b6 English Defence, offbeat and risky but can be rewarding with good prep, 2. ...Bb4+ Keres Defence, also unusual but very  playable, (cf. Eingorn's works and practice), 2. ...c5 which is a very rare but perfectly viable route to the Modern Benoni and I can't resist but add my own 2. ...Nc6 (cf. thread in "Daring Defences")
Hopefully, narrowed down to these options, the choice will seem less daunting and you can choose based on what you feel most comfortable with after some trial and error.
  
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