In the most general sense the term Queen's Pawn Game can refer to any chess opening which starts with the move 1.d4. It is the second most popular opening move after 1.e4. The name is usually used to describe openings beginning with 1.d4 where White does not play the Queen's Gambit. The most common Queen's Pawn Game openings are:
In the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings (ECO), strict Queen's Pawn Games (1.d4 d5) are classified in the coding series D00-D05. Other openings where Black does not play 1...d5 are named Semi-Closed Games and classified as:
In the 19th century and early 20th century, 1.e4 was by far the most common opening move by White (Watson 2006:87), while the different openings starting with 1.d4 were considered somewhat unusual and therefore classed together as "Queen's Pawn Game".
As the merits of 1.d4 started to be explored, it was the Queen's Gambit which was played most often - more popular than all other 1.d4 openings combined. The term "Queen's Pawn Game" was then narrowed down to any opening with 1.d4 which was not a Queen's Gambit. Eventually, through the efforts of the hypermodernists, the various Indian Defences (such as the King's Indian, Nimzo-Indian, and Queen's Indian) became more popular, and as these openings were named, the term "Queen's Pawn Game" narrowed further.
This move prevents White from establishing a full pawn centre with 2.e4. The opening usually leads to a form of Indian Defence, but can also lead to versions of the Queen's Gambit if Black plays ...d5 at some point. Since 1...Nf6 is a move that is likely to be made anyway, the move is a flexible response to White's first move. White usually plays 2.c4. Then Black usually plays 2...e6 (typically leading to the Nimzo-Indian, Queen's Indian, or Queen's Gambit Declined), 2...g6 (leading to the King's Indian or Grünfeld Defense), or 2...c5 (leading to the Benoni Defense or Benko Gambit). Rarer tries include 2...e5 (Budapest Gambit) and 2...d6 (Old Indian Defense). Also White can play 2.Nf3 which like Black's move is not specific as to opening. A third alternative is the Trompowsky Attack with 2.Bg5.
1...d5 (Closed Game) also prevents White from playing 2.e4 unless White wants to venture the dubious Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. 1...d5 is not any worse than 1...Nf6, but committing the pawn to d5 at once makes it somewhat less flexible since Black can no longer play the Indian Defenses, although if Black is aiming for Queen's Gambit positions this may be of minor importance. Also, a move like 2.Bg5 (Hodgson Attack) is considered relatively harmless compared to 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 since there is no knight on f6 for the bishop to harass. White's more common move is 2.c4 leading to the Queen's Gambit when Black usually chooses between 2...e6 (Queen's Gambit Declined), 2...c6 (Slav Defense) or 2...dxc4 (Queen's Gambit Accepted). Also White can play 2.Nf3 which again is not specific as to opening. Then Black may play ...Nf6 (same as above) or ...e6. A Queen's Gambit may arise anyway if White plays c4 soon afterward, but lines like the Colle System and Stonewall Attack are also possible.
This move allows White to play 2.e4, entering the French Defense. If White wants to continue with a Queen's Pawn Game however, 2.c4 and 2.Nf3 usually transpose to a familiar opening such as the Queen's Gambit Declined, Nimzo-Indian or Queen's Indian. A line that is unique to the 1...e6 move order is the Kangaroo Defense, 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Bb4+.
1...f5 is the Dutch Defence. Common White moves are 2.g3, 2.Nf3, and 2.c4.
1...g6 is sometimes called the Modern Defence line. White can play 2.e4 to enter the Modern Defense. More commonly, White plays 2.c4. Black may play 2...Nf6 for the King's Indian Defence (same as 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6). More commonly, Black plays 2...Bg7. Then White's moves include 3.Nc3, 3.e4, and 3.Nf3. 3.Nc3 often leads to the Modern Defense, Averbakh System, and 3.e4 usually leads to the Modern Defense, Averbakh System. 2...d6 often leads to the Modern Defense, Averbakh System. Also, White can play 2.Nf3. Black may play 2...Nf6 for the King's Indian. More commonly, Black plays 2...Bg7. Common White moves are 3.e4, 3.c4, and 3.g3.
This move also allows 2.e4 entering the Pirc Defense. If White avoids this, 2.Nf3 or 2.c4 may lead to a King's Indian or Old Indian Defense, or Black may play 2...Bg4 for Queen's Pawn Game (with ...d6) (A41, see 1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Bg4).