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The Catalan Opening - How do I handle this counter?

  • #1

    I am currently a huge fan of the Catalan opening when I play white. It gives me some control over the centre while allowing me to castle relatively quickly. In the first example we see white sucessfully completing the Catalan opening. However, I've run into a bit of a problem in the last couple games I've played. Take a look at the second example.
    Now if I counter that d5, I divert from my planned Catalan opening.  Take a look at the third example.






















    I would appreciate any help with countering ...d5.

  • #2
    You should welcome 2... dxc4.  It's the Queen's Gambit Accepted and it leaves White with the better game, I think.  After 3.e4, you've got great central control, open lines for your bishops, and you're likely going to get your pawn back unless your opponent wants to hinder his own development to save it.  Why would you want to play the Catalan when you can have an even better position?  It's important to play the best moves, even if they break away from the original plan.  If a different plan benefits you more, it's okay to change.Laughing
  • #3
    I didn't think about it that way... I think I like the Catalan opening even MORE now - becuase it's almost as if they either let you do it or end up disadvantaged. The Queen's Gambit Accepted. Thanks for letting me know. Let me play it out...

  • #4

    It can be argued whether the Queen's Gambit Accepted is better for white than allowing the Catalan. That would be mostly a matter of taste.

    One 'problem' that playing the QGA gives is having to understand an extra series of opening positions - quite many really - that don't look a whole lot like each other. I think there isn't much wrong with pursuing your Catalan a bit more; anyway in the Open Catalan black captures on c4 so why not try for these positions?


    Sure, Black can deviate, for example with 3...a6, forcing you into some Queen's Gambit Accepted lines, but these are more manageable than the whole of QGA theory after 3. e4 (or e3).


    No matter what you try, Black can always deviate and not allow a Catalan (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5, for one). So don't worry too much about that. Just try to maximise the number of times you DO get to play the Catalan!

  • #5
    Thank you Marvol, that's enlightening. I'd like a little more information on 3...a6 though. I'm not I understand how that's a good move for black. Would you mind developing that line a bit for me?

  • #6

    Actually, in my Shredder 11 openings book 3...a6 is the second most popular reply (after 3...Nf6).

    The idea behind it is that after white recaptures on c4, ...b5 will come with tempo (nudging the bishop away) and black can fianchetto, while also having gained some space on the queenside.

    The immediate 3...b5 runs into a4 which puts lots of pressure on black's pawns. However 3...a6 is less committal and if white tries the same idea, a4, this weakens b3 and black reasons that even if he now will lose the c4-pawn the move a4 has done more bad to white than ...a6 did to him.

    (There are some variations in the move lists)







    Sorry, forgot the lines with 3...b5, which are bad for black (variation in move list).









  • #7

    I'm also a fan of Catalan opening lately.

    Black will play dxc4 sooner or later. There are couple of ways to counter.

    1. Qc2 and later capture the pawn. If black will try to defend the pawn he will be at a disadvantage because he might weaken his queenside.

    2. Nd2

    3. Qa4+


    Qc2 seems to be the most popular lately according to opening books. But since we are not GMs here any of the ideas above might work.

  • #8

    If you want to get the pawn back in the QGA, here is how you do so.

  • #9

    KillaBeez - I really like that solution.

  • #10

    I'll suggest a whole other way to approach the Catalan while avoiding some of the alternatives that come up including the QGA (as well as some gambits, Nimzo, etc).  I have been an e4 player my whole life and wanted to learn to play d4.  So, I have began opening with 1.Nf3 2.d4 3.g3, 4.Bg2, 5.O-O and only now play 6.c4.  This seems to almost always transpose to main line Catalan. Check out my online games to see many of my examples. The hardest "anti-catalan" lines against this move order seems to be those with ....Bf5 prior to ...e6, but a timely Nh4 seems to adequately challenge the bishop and give plenty of play for White.  The one point I'll make is that as an e4 player, I can sometimes tranpose back to normal e4 lines when I feel like I am heading into unfamiliar territory.  For example, I never face a King's Indian because I transpose to a Pirc.

  • #11
    3...e5 doesn't equalize in this case due to 4.Nf3 when Black will have to play ...exd4 since 4...Nc6?! d5 fails and 4...Nf6 can be met with the simple 5.Bxc4. after the usual 4...exd4 5.Bxc4 White still has an advantage and the game can get wild.
  • #12

    When I was a Catalan player, I didn't play c4 until after I castled. But I was also prepared to meet the Symmetrical English and the Reversed Gruenfeld.

    What's with the strange layout on this page?

  • #13
    Nbd2 is better there. White should avoid trades and play a3 afterwards.
  • #14
    Black cannot just equalize here. For starters, the bishop on b4 is just silly and will be forced to move again. White will soon be fully developed after 6...Nc6 7.0-O Nf6 (7...Ne7? 8.Nb3) 8.e5 Nd5 9.Nb3 Nb6 10.Bg5 Be7 the correct trade for Black 11.Bxe7 Nxe7 12.Bd3 and White is slightly better here.
  • #15

    One way to put black off is to start with 1. Nf3 and after 1. ... d5 2. d4, Nf6 3. c4, e6 4. g3 set up ur catalan system

  • #16

    dc is more or less better for white. It releases central tension and it allows white to play freeing moves like e4 of the main line, Nf3. Na3 is a big mistake because it goes against basic opening principles- Aim to develop towards the centre and 'A Knight on the rim is dim'

  • #17
  • #18

    hello chess enthusiast! this is still regarding catalan system. what if black answers is benoni defense?

  • #19

    It won't be possible to get into a Catalan every game when you have white.

  • #20

    You could play 4. g3 and allow 4...cxd4 5. Nxd4 with an acceptable game but less of an advantage than the main line.

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