Queen’s Gambit: Main Variations

Dec 10, 2009, 8:43 AM |

After 1.d4 d5 2.c4,

  • 2...dxc4 Queen’s Gambit Accepted (QGA)
  • 2...Nc6 Chigorin Defense
  • 2...c5 Symmetrical Defense
  • 2...c6 Slav Defense
  • 2...e5 Albin Counter Gambit
  • 2...e6 Queen’s Gambit Declined (QGD)
  • 2...Bf5 Baltic Defense
  • 2...Nf6 Marshall Defense
  • 2...g6 Alekhine's Variation.


Technically, any Black response other than 2...dxc4 (or another line with an early ...dxc4 that transposes into the QGA) is a Queen's Gambit Declined, but the Slav, Chigorin Defense, and Albin Counter Gambit are generally treated separately. In fact there are so many QGD lines after 2...e6, that many of them are distinctive enough to warrant separate treatment. The Orthodox Defense and the Tarrasch Defense are two important examples.

There are many other possible responses:

  • The Slav Defense is a solid response, although many variations are very tactical. If Black plays both ...c6 and ...e6 (in either order), the opening takes characteristics of both the Slav and the Orthodox Defense and is classified as a Semi-Slav Defense.
  • The Chigorin Defense takes the game away from the normal positional channels of the QGD, and has been favoured by Alexander Morozevich at top level; it appears to be playable for Black.
  • The Albin Counter Gambit is a sharp attempt for Black to gain the initiative. It is not common in top-level chess, but can be a dangerous weapon in club play.
  • The Symmetrical Defense is very rarely played. Although it has not been definitely refuted, play seems to favor White.
  • If White chooses to fianchetto his king's bishop, the game transposes into the Catalan Opening.
  • The Baltic Defense is offbeat but playable.
  • The Marshall Defense is the weakest of the Black replies listed. Named after Frank Marshall, who was the first to devise the move, he briefly played it in the 1920s before abandoning it.

For books about the Queen’s Gambit and its variations:

·  Ward, Chris (2006). Play The Queen's Gambit

·  Schandorff, Lars (2009). Playing the Queen's Gambit: A Grandmaster Guide