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Against !.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 what are your thoughts/ preferences on white's next move? Nf3 or Nc3?
Nf3 is somewhat more passive, except in Petrosian/ Kasparov's 4.a3. However, after 3... d5 White can no longer play an effective QGD Exchange, which is one of his strongest options. Many Black defenses to the mainline QGD, especially Lasker and Tartakower, lead to simplifications leading to endgames where white has only a small edge.
3.Nc3 allopws the exchange, but runs into the Nimzo Indian, against which there are many strong replies but all of which seem rather passive or have another problem. The Classical wins the Bishop pair but slows development, 4.Nf3 is ok but does not do anything about e4 or the pin, the rubinstein shuts in the Queen's Bishop, the leningrad leads to the bishop pair in closed positions, and the Samisch and 4.f3 lead to doubled pawns and very slow development.
I realize no opening, especially against these solid defenses, is perfect (that is why I play the Nimzo/QID complex myself )
However, I would be very interested in hearing your choices in these situations and why you play this way. Any analysis of the problem or general differences between the 2 moves would also be appreciated.
Of course, the best thing would be to prove me wrong and show that one of white's options really is perfect
Any Nimzo/QGD player's input would be particularly useful.
The Nf3 QGD is a rich strategic opening. f3-e4 isn't so feasible but if conditions suit it you can still play a quick e4 and attack from an IQP position. There are plenty of opportunities to out-play your opponent in the resulting game. Plus if you like the Nf3 QGD you can play a move order like 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. d4 as detailed in Khalifman's According to Kramnik series (the first edition is more QGD focused, second has more catalan ideas) which eliminates the bulk of the nimzo/QID/benoni theory, as well as the Grunfeld.
Personally I prefer the Catalan, which is another fine option for white in the QGD and makes the Nf3 choice simple.
How does the catalan compare to the standared QGD? I have heard that it is very complicated.
Black also has the option of the QID against Nf3, which in my opinion is the most solid reply.
My own personal preference is Nc3, if just for the fact that you avoid the QID and have the option of interesting Nimzo lines like 4.f3. The bonus being if black still wants a QGD, you get many more options against it.
I usually just let the Nimzo Indian in, and immediately hit the bishop with a3. I like the position after Bxc3, bxc3. Nothing wrong with an early bishop pair, and the doubled pawns aren't a liability at all.
@ firebrandX: I do prefer Nc3 against the QGD, but I do not reaaly like any system against the Nimzo-indian yet. Maybe I will look into f3. what sort of positions result?
It depends on the flavor black prefers. 4...d5 leads to open positions where white enjoys a kingside space advantage and often better tactical chances on the queenside, though the positions are quite complicated. Current performance data shows white enjoying a nice advantage in these lines.
4...c5 on the other hand, creates a more closed position that gives white the center in order to flank around it. This is technically the more solid approach for black, but is less popular than 4...d5.
@JamieKowalski: I thought that Black was supposed to be better here because of his superior development and he can attack the c4 pawn with Ba6 and Nc6-a5. have you had trouble with either of these things?
I don't find that to be a problem, no. There's no reasonable way he's going to come away with an extra pawn. Seems to me that would be a lot of unnecessary manouvering for no real gain. Not to mention you can push c5 or take on d5 in a pinch if you have to. There are plenty of instructive games in the database you can take a look at.
So right after I posted that, an interesting related position came up in a turn-based game I was playing. The game just concluded, so I'll post it here. It's a Slav, not a Nimzo, but the theme of a3 forcing a bishop capture and retaining the bishop pair is here. Coincidentally, black goes for the c4 pawn, and goes down hard.
Obviously I was not expecting the blunder f6. The point to the line was that the mate threat should give White an extra tempo before Black can regroup.
Bb4 in the slav is a completely different idea since c6 really prevents black from going after the pawn.
In a nimzo/QID structure after Na5 and Ba6 there really is no option to hold the pawn, and since black will have a pawn on b6 and usually d6 pushing to c5 will leave you behind a pawn. If you do get enough force behind the c4 pawn to protect it your activity is pretty much accounted for.
It's expected in the nimzo that black will come away with an extra pawn and a winning queen side given enough time. White often counts on it! White has very serious compensation in the fact that black's pieces are off-sides for defending the king.
This famous game is a prime example-
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