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Queen's Gambit Declined

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Moves 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6
ECO D30-D69
Parent Queen's Gambit

The Queen's Gambit Declined (or QGD) is a chess opening in which Black declines a pawn offered by White in the Queen's Gambit:

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e6

This is known as the Orthodox Line of the Queen's Gambit Declined. When the "Queen's Gambit Declined" is mentioned, it is usually assumed to be referring to the Orthodox Line; see "Other lines" below.

The Orthodox Line can be reached by a number of different move orders, such as 1.d4 e6 2.c4 d5; 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5; 1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4; 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 e6 3.d4; and so on.

General concepts

Playing 2...e6 releases Black's dark-squared bishop, while obstructing his light-squared bishop. By declining White's temporary pawn sacrifice, Black erects a solid position; the pawns on d5 and e6 give Black a foothold in the center. The Queen's Gambit Declined has the reputation of being one of Black's most reliable defenses to 1.d4. In this situation, White will try to exploit the passivity of Black's light-squared bishop, and Black will try to release it, trade it, or prove that, while passive, the bishop has a useful defensive role.

An eventual ...dxc4 by Black will surrender the center to White, and Black will usually not do this unless he can extract a concession, usually in the form of gaining a tempo, by capturing on c4 only after White has played Bd3 first. In the Orthodox Line, the fight for the tempo revolves around White's efforts to play all other useful developing moves prior to playing Bd3.

Other lines

In its broadest sense, the Queen's Gambit Declined is any variation of the Queen's Gambit in which Black does not play ...dxc4. Variations other than the Orthodox Line have their own names and are usually treated separately.

Of the 34 games played in the 1927 World Championship between Alexander Alekhine and José Raúl Capablanca, all except the first and third began with the Queen's Gambit Declined.

Black avoids 3...Nf6

After 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 (other third moves are also possible: 3.cxd5 may be played to lead to the Exchange line, 3.Nf3 keeps options open, and 3.g3 will transpose to the Catalan), Black's main move is 3...Nf6, though he has other options as well:

Black plays 3...Nf6

Lines beginning with the moves 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 are covered by ECO codes D35-D69. These are old lines that can transpose into many other queen pawn openings. White has several ways of dealing with Black's setup:

QGD Main Variations: 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nf3

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Main Line of the QGD: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nf3

Cambridge Springs Defense: 4.Bg5 Nbd7

The Cambridge Springs Defense was introduced more than a century ago, and is still played. 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 (setting up the Elephant Trap) 5.e3 c6 6.Nf3 Qa5, now Black intends ...Bb4 and possibly ...Ne4, with pressure along the a5-e1 diagonal. This Black defense is popular among amateurs because there are several traps White can fall into, for example 7.Nd2 (one of the main lines, countering Black's pressure along the diagonal) 7...Bb4 8.Qc2 0-0 and here 9.Bd3?? loses since 9...dxc4! (threatening ...Qxg5) 10.Bxf6 cxd3! (a zwischenzug) 11.Qxd3 Nxf6 wins a piece for Black.

Exchange Variation: 4.cxd5 exd5

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 c6 6.Qc2 and White has a pawn majority in the center, Black has a pawn majority on the queenside. This pawn structure gives White the opportunity to either advance his pawns in the center by means of Nge2, f2-f3, followed by e2-e4, or play for a minority attack by means of the plan Rb1, followed by b2-b4-b5, then bxc6 in order to create a weak pawn at c6. While Black can play ...cxb5, or recapture on c6 with a piece, each of these possibilities are even less desirable than the backward pawn in the open file. For Black, exchanging at d5 has released his light-squared bishop and opened the e-file, giving him the use of e4 as a springboard for central and kingside play. While chances are balanced, Black is usually more or less forced to use his superior activity to launch a piece attack on White's king, as the long-term chances in the QGD Exchange structure favour White. The following games are model games for White:

Ragozin Variation: 4.Nf3 Bb4

The Ragozin Variation (ECO code D37-D39) occurs after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Bb4. An important line in this variation is the Vienna variation where the game continues: 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4. White's pawns or pieces occupy the central squares in exchange for long-term pawn structure weaknesses. An instance of Vienna variation played at the highest level was Fine vs Euwe, AVRO 1938.

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