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Hard to handle? It's equal. Anyway I used to reach that position when I opened with 1.c4 and IIRC you're not supposed to try and win back the pawn right away on move 5 like that... in fact in some lines you just keep developing normally and don't win it back for a long time (if black tries b5).
I know main catalan theory suggests 5.Bg2 but I ran into some road blocks there. So I adopted Qa4+ simply because it is easier to play. Also if I look hard enough maybe there is a way to gain an edge with it. But I understand where you are coming from. I know a lot of top players play Bg2 instead of Qa4+.
But I think maybe the problem is with the line I am showing you is that perhaps white could have done better earlier. Do you guys have any suggestions for moves that could have been played during blacks sequence of bishop moves for example? (i.e Bd7, Bc6, Bd5)
It seems quite unlogical to me when you play g3 in combination with c4. You will have to get out with your queen to retrieve the pawn or you will go for it using your bishop. Hence, I would suggest that when you play g3 you will not play c4 early in the game. I consider c4 the breaking move of that position. If everything is well in place, you can play c4. Until that time, wait and prepare.
The reason why it might not make much sense is because of the sharp lines that come later in the game LoekBergman. But I do think that most of the tactical possibilities favor white. It takes a lot of studying to really understand the possibilities that occour in the main line catalan.
One of the best reasons for club players to avoid the Catalan is how many legitimate continuations there are in the 4...dxc4 Open Catalan. Memorizing so many variations is a monumental undertaking, as even just keeping the abstract ideas of all the variations in order can be difficult.
Black gets an easy game after Qa4+, though, and the real meat of the Catalan (and what I'm sure your coach wants you to learn) is in understanding how white gets compensation for the pawn and then uses that compensation to win a pawn back.
Take the time to learn some of the 5.Bg2 lines as the positions your studying will improve your play overall.
If you share what the roadblocks you encountered after 5.Bg2 are I'll explain how to play those variations.
Here are some of the lines I see white getting no serious edge out of:
And white should play Bxf6 Qxf6 Qxf6 and black has no issues securing equality with the two bishops.
And after Qxa6 white has no real edge in the following lines since he has to later play e3 (which is not good) or play Bf1 and have that bishop look at the e2 pawn's butt.
But black gets easy equality in this game and white would have to really struggle to get any serious advantage out of his position.
This is why I am saying white needs to understand specific positional nuances well to play the catalan. You are going to get microscopic edges, but if you can't nurse it then its pointless which is why I have no idea why your coach is reccomending the catalan to you.
C4 is the start of the English and Nf3 is the start of the Reti.
Funny you mentioned NA3. It was in the original Reti opening.
#17: The move I would never play is 9. Qd1. If you as white do not want to exchange queens, why then playing Qa4+ in the first place? Playing Qd1 is change of strategy and losing tempi.
I would play 9. Nc3, developing the knight. If black wants to exchange queens, you have not helped black in his development and he expects that you prefer playing without queens on the board. If black does not exchange queens and plays for instance Nc6 you can continu your development with for instance 0-0 or Be3.
My coach told me that the reason why he thinks I should adopt the catalan vs just the plain old english is because it is meant for players who are over 2200.
My goal is to reach 2200 before the end of the year so he thinks that in order for me to have a smooth transition I should play a better and more solid white opening.
I don't think this is a matter of if I can handle it. It is about the question: do I really want to play the catalan. Because I would like to study hard if the work pays off. However, if I end up getting practically no more advantage than playing the colle or london than it would be a serious mistake to take up the catalan.
The Catalan guarantees white a very small advantage with extremely precise play, I don't think the London or Colle do that.
The Catalan creates some major imbalances in many critical lines. The better player will be able win because of those imbalances. I don't think the Colle or London offer such richness.
If you have hired a coach, trust him or her. Don't ask for crowd-sourced opening repertoires.
Thanks for your input. To be honest guys my coach recommended Qa4+ on move 5 after much analysis with the 5.Bg2 stuff. When I hit a road block with Qa4 I wanted to ask you all about the lines to see if you could have answers for me.
I am willing to take another look at 5.Bg2 but what I would also be interested in is if you know another good way to play with 1.Nf3 d5! Is there another sensible opening that gives white comfortable play in most lines or do I have to play the catalan after 1.Nf3 d5 to gain that really valuable elementary advantage?
I remember Pellik recommending 2.c4 against 1..d5 on the first page of this topic. However, I found that moves like 2..d4 might make white play more passive openings like the reversed benoni.
Well, I took a second look at the position of #17 and I have to admit that 9. Nc3 Nc6 is losing directly. Hence I would say 9. Qd7:+ Nbd7: 10. Nc3. Good position for Ulf Andersson.
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Qa4+ Has been played by Carlsen, Kasparov, Kramnik, Aronian and many others. If you have run into a road block in that line, you may want to work your way through it. The pedigree of the line is as good as you can hope for. There are plenty of great ideas in that line!
Thanks for the correction Loek, I will take the time to look into that line and I hope it gives white some cool stuff to work with.
I have actually played that line when I used 1.c4. I have not really studied that line yet for this repertoire but I am sure you are right about that ideas.
i ran into a transpositional problem yesterday, was wondering if you could help me with it pellik? i had a game which started 1. Nf3 .. Nf6 2. c4 .. e6 and here i played g3 just lazily assuming he would play a QGD type set up. i know that i could / should have played 3. Nc3 as per anti-nizmo type stuff, but i don't think it would have made a difference if my opponent continued his development in the same way he did in the game. he surprised me with 3 ... Be7, which i more or less ignored as a nothing move and continued my normal development Bg2 and O-O. my opponent then played O-O, c6 and d5 and we ended up in a type of delayed slav. and this is my problem. i don't usually fiancetto my king side bishop against the slav, i play something like delchevs anti slav lines, and so i found myself in a position which is not exactly bad for white but in unfamiliar to me.