White playing c5 in QGD


When my opponent has white and plays 1. d4, I play the Queen's Gambit Declined: 1...d5 2. c4 e6. My problem is that sometimes my opponent plays c5 before I can prepare and play ...c5 myself. I have had trouble playing against this system because of the space disadvantage for Black. Is there a good way to prevent White from playing c5 or taking advantage of it if he does?


How early is White playing c5?  Doesnt it reduce central tension if too early and overextend a pawn chain?  Is it one pawn move too many when development could be continued?  Can you build up and hit out with e5 in response?  I know I am just asking questions in response but I am not sure at what stage you mean.


Playing b6 followed by a5 (if white plays b4) will solve white's space advantage "problem".

proKnight98 wrote:

Playing b6 followed by a5 (if white plays b4) will solve white's space advantage "problem".

what he said


@MetaKnight: Thank you for that suggestion. I will try the Tarrasch and see how it works.

@HereIsPlenty: Normally it's around the 7th move or so. In the last game I played where White played c5, White had already played a3 and was able to consolidate with b4. Here is how it started:

I responded with c6 and later played b6, where my opponent played b4. I did eventually play e5 and won the game when my opponent dropped a rook on a discovered attack, but I feel like I handled the opening poorly

Pwn-Attak wrote:

It doesnt matter what you play in the QGD, 90% of the time its a draw with 2 even players.

White Wins
Black Wins
 1.d4 d5 2.c4  
2...e6 32,544
39.9% 37.7% 22.4%



In that or in similar cases, esp when it's early, you attack the pawn chain with moves like e5, b6 and if white plays b4 to support it play a5.

Often with piece pressure e.g. Qb6, c7 or f6.  Knights can often help with Nbd2 or Nf6-e4.  This is only when white insists on trying to keep this space advantage.

If it does not win a pawn, it usually leaves white with poor pawn structure or behind in development.  c5 isn't always bad for white, but this early in the game it's too far up the board to support when black attacks it.

Pwn-Attak wrote:

Not all of those games were against 2 even players but thats still a high draw percentage.

Oh please, draws become more common as you get higher rated. Sure, some openings tend to be more draw-ish but generalizing all QGD openings as such is simply asinine.


As for the OP, you should have played 4... c5. The a3 move by white is a little premature and black can equalize almost immediately playing c5 there.

Pwn-Attak wrote:

Im just saying, Ive had more draws with the QGD than any other opening, and it is always a closed game. Also, Im pretty sure not a lot of other openings have that high a draw percentage.

The problem is that you are making such a huge, sweeping generalization. A QGD starts on move 2 for black (anything that doesn't take the c4 pawn) and includes a large number of variations, some which can be vastly different. You could argue that something like the exchange Slav is more drawish, but lumping that in with all other QGD lines is what's silly.

As a lifelong 1. e4 player, it has it's own share of draw-ish lines from the Exchange French to the Berlin "Wall" Defence. I wouldn't generalize all of the French or Ruy Lopez lines as a draw though because of variations like those.


Well, weak openings will tend to have a very small draw percentage.  Strong openings by world class players will obviously have the highest drawing percentage.


lol @ all the low rated players concerning themselves with how drawish an opening is. It doesn't honestly matter under a certain elo point since there are enough errors in the middlegame and endgame to allow for winning chances regardless of how drawish your opening was. More important is knowing the structure and general plans of the opening you're playing rather than knowing how well is fairs in master games.

On topic, @OP: don't worry about c5 for white. A space advantage is only dangerous if it stifles play or development. In given cases, black has no trouble developing or gaining play through b6 and e5 breaks. c5 by white is usually a bad choice by white.

Pwn-Attak wrote:

But the Slav and Semi-Slav are played far more than any other line which is why the draw percentage is so high.

Maybe Slav-complex is played most by masters in the last ten years, but in most multi-million game databases they are a small fraction of the QGD games.  And only a tiny % of Slav games are the Exchange Variation, and by no means are all of them drawn.

The claim the whole QGD is drawish is just laughable.


One could even argue that the Exchange Slav is far less drawish than percentages claim, as it's often used to draw instead of play chess. One of the reasons the percentages are so high is that people who want to draw as white just trade everything on the c-file and agree to a draw by move 20, while people who are playing for a win in the opening can usually find a slight but enduring advantage which can often be pressed into a win.  Also note that the Exchange Variation is commonly used for prearranged draws, as no one will think anything of a draw in it.  One could say that a main reason it is so drawish is due to its reputation building on itself.



Amusingly enough, a lot of my wins in the Exchange have come against players higher rated than I am who thought I was playing for a draw and treated my opening choice with disgust.  Anyway though, the main point of what I'm saying is that most openings are drawish if you don't make a serious effort to win, and that most openings have winning chances if you do.


When White plays an early c4-c5 in the QGD he is releasing the central tension AND foregoing the chance to emerge with a pawn majority in the center after an eventual ...d5xc4, so he is putting a lot of faith in the extra Queenside space and cramping effect of c4-c5.

One problem Black may find is his Bc8 trapped behind his own pawns fixed on light squares, so the most direct solution is to play ...b6 and if b2b4, as suggested by proknight98 on the 1st page.  Black can then trade off his problem piece at a6, and then can trade Rooks on the a-file if he wishes.

paulgottleib's suggestion of aiming for ...e5 is strategically sound, but it is easiest to play ...c6, ...b6, ...a5 etc. first.  Then the Queenside will be either neutralized or soon blocked, and Black can turn his attention to the counterthrust in the center - which is of course the indicated response to a flank demonstration by White anyway.

Bottom line is that Black should have nothing to fear from an early c4-c5 as long as he is careful.  White gives up more options than he gains with the push.


And as far as the actual game with 3 a3, that is quite a nothing move and NM iFrancisco points out that Black can respond with 4...c5! and avoid the problem and get a good game earlier.

The most common instances of an early White c4-c5 that is viable would be the [D15] Chebanenko Slav 2 c4 c6  3 Nf3 Nf6  4 Nc3 a6  5 c5, or the [D37] 2 c4 e6  3 Nc3 Be7  4 Nf3 Nf6  5 Bf4 0-0  6 e3 Nbd7  7 c5.  As with many new ideas, c4-c5 scored very well at first in these lines, but Black figured it out soon enough.

Pwn-Attak wrote:

The only thing laughable here is that you guys think the QGD isnt drawish. Also, the only reason my rating is so low on this site is because i always lag out of games for some reason. I am rated almost 2300 on chesscube where i do not lag out which i would say is equivalent to around 2000 on here, probably a little higher.

Your rating is lower because your USCF is around 1800 (regardless of what your chesscube rating might be). That is certainly an admirable playing level and is above the average tournament player (so no insult meant by that!), but not exactly high enough to think any opening at your level is a draw. With perfect play all of chess may be a draw (or so the common belief goes), but at 1800 anything is playable.

Draws are going to occur based upon how strong the two players are (2 GMs will draw more often than 2 1200s, regardless of the opening) and what opening is chosen. Also, classifying an entire opening set (QGD) as too draw-ish on move 2 (!) is silly; At least pull it out to half-a-dozen moves before making such a generalization. That is why people think your argument is funny.