The Semi-Slav Defence to the Queen’s Gambit

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6

The Semi-Slav mixes the Slav with the Orthodox Queen’s Gambit. Black plays both …c7-c6 and … e7-e6 before continuing his development. The starting position after four moves can be reached by various transpositions of moves; Black’s moves two to four are relatively interchangeable.

Now the threat is the capture … d5xc4 followed by the defence of the pawn. White can now protect the c4-pawn with 5.e2-e3 or simply sacrifice it with 5.Bc1-g5.

The Semi-Slav is popular with players of all strengths. Most variations lead to dynamic positions with chances for both sides.


In the following diagrams you can reach the starting position with and from there move back and forward through the opening moves with the arrow keys  and .

Susbsequenty click on the title of the openings to receive more detailed information.

White protects the pawn with 5.e2-e3

Meran System: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3

Characteristic of the Slav: In the Meran System Black gives up the centre with …d5xc4. In return he gains time with an attack on the c4-bishop by 7. ... b7-b5 and later follows up with …c6-c5. White plays in the centre with e3-e4.

Anti-Meran System, Karpov Variation: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Bd3

White avoids the long forced variations of the Meran System with this waiting move and would like to play e3-e4. For his part Black prepares a quick …e6-e5.

Shirov-Shabalov Gambit: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.g4

This pawn sacrifice by the two Latvian players Shirov und Shabalov was, according to legend, found by them when they were analysing together and listening to loud pop music. It is very sharp and perhaps not totally sound. According to present day theory Black should accept it with 7... Nf6xg4.

White sacrifices the c4-pawn with 6.Bc1-g5

BotvinnikSystem: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 b5

This super-complex variation became known through World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik in the 1940s. It is among the most deeply analysed areas in opening theory. The resulting positions are very tactical, often have an asymmetric distribution of material and insecure king positions. White castles short, Black long.