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peppe_l 112 ( +1 | -1 )
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 As far as I know here both

5.Qc2!?

and

5.Bd3

Leave black in slightly inferior version of a6 Slav, unless he plays something else, for example 5.Qc2!? e6 6.Nf3 c5!? or QGA after 5.Bd3 dxc4 6.Bxc4 e6 7.Nf3 e6 etc. The point is 5.Qc2!? allows 5...b5 6.b3 Bg4 7.Nge2! followed by h3-Nf4, compared to the main line 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.e3 b5 6.b3 Bg4 7.h3 Bxf3! where white is forced to misplace his queen (after 8.Qxf3 black plays e6-Bb4-Qa5) or weaken his kingside (8.gxf3!?) to gain the bishop pair.

However I have seen some GMs play these variations recently - one example being Bareev vs Karpov (Tolya won a nice game after using the h3-Nf4-Nxg6 idea) - so I have to ask has someone found a way for black to equalize after 5.Qc2!? b5 6.b3 Bg4 or to stay in a6 Slav territory after 5.Bd3 (few years ago GM Sadler gave 5...Bg4!? 6.Qb3 Ra7)?

After trying 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 dxc4!? with poor results I have played 3...Nf6 4.e3 g6, transposing to a relatively quiet line of Grunfeld, also known as Schlecter Slav.

Also I have to ask about 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.e3 b5 6.b3 Bg4 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 e6, because now my ECO book gives 9.Bd3 +/= (no further analysis!) and I am not interested of playing more complex 8...e5!?

So, can anyone give me up-to-date theoretical recommendations here?

Thanks in advance

Peppe
triangulator 5 ( +1 | -1 )
no but that is how gm shulman beat the crap out of me( I was white)
peppe_l 3 ( +1 | -1 )
:-) It would be interesting to see the game!
atrifix 96 ( +1 | -1 )
Unfortunately in most games I have looked at White tends to get a slight advantage after 5... b5 6. b3 Bg4, so Black tends to play 5... e6 and often 6... c5. This game was interesting, though:

Yakunin-Frolov, 2001
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 a6 5. Qc2 b5 6. b3 Bg4 7. Nge2 Nbd7 8. h3 Bh5 9. Nf4 Bg6 10. Nxg6 hxg6 11. Be2 e6 12. c5 e5 13. Bd2 Rh4 14. g4 b4 15. Na4 Ne4 16. Bxb4 Qf6 17. Bd3 Qf3 18. Nxe4 dxe4 19. Rf1 exd4 20. exd4 Rxh3 21. Qe2 Nf6 22. Bd2 Qxg4 23. Qxg4 Nxg4 24. d5 cxd5 25. Bf4 Rf3 26. Bc7 Rc8 27. Bb6 d4 28. b4 Rc6 29. Rd1 d3 30. a3 Be7 31. Nc3 f5 32. Nd5 Bh4 33. Nc7+ Rxc7 34. Rxc7 Nxf2 35. Kd2 e3+ 0-1.

As for 5. Bd3, 5... Bg4 6. Qb3 Ra7 and 6... b6 have both been tried and have fared fairly well. 5... b5 6. b3 g6!? has also been tried, as well as 6... Bg4 (although that usually transposes to other Qc2 lines). 5... b5 6. b3 g6 seems to do fairly well.

And 4. Nf3 a6 5. e3 b5 6. b3 Bg4 7. h3 Bxf3 8. Qxf3 e6 9. Bd3 is fairly rare, probably due to White's success in this line. However, I noticed one game:

Krivoshey-Velicka, 1997
9... Nbd7 10. 0-0 Be7 11. e4 e5 12. exd5 exd4 13. Re1 0-0 14. dxc6 Bb4 15. cxd7 bxc4 16. Bg5 Bxc3 17. Bxf6 Qxd7 18. Bxh7+ 1-0.

But what about 11... dxc4 12. bxc4 e5? This looks to be much better IMO.

Hope some of this helped a little.
peppe_l 79 ( +1 | -1 )
Thanks! Yep, it seems the verdict of 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 hasnt changed, black has to transpose to other lines or accept a disadvantage. Well, at least 4...g6 is a good line.

In 9.Bd3 line, I have played 9...Bb4 followed by for example 10.Bd2 Qa5, pretty much following the ideas of game Oll - Anand (although in that game white played modest Qd1 and gave black an easy play).

11...dxc4 12.bxc4 e5 looks interesting, but to be honest due the strong bishop pair white has (and black king still in e8) Im a bit suspicious of ripping the centre completely open here...thats why I prefer 9...Bb4, preventing a quick e4 and forcing white to react on pressure against Nc3. Eventually, after preparations black can play bxc4 - like in the line you gave - followed by c5. Of course this idea isnt always so easy to carry out...