Slav Defence

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6

In the Slav Defence Black protects his central d5-pawn with 2... c7-c6. Unlike 2... e7-e6 this move delays the development of the kingside, In return, the bishop on c8 has greater scope. White must now take care that accepting the gambit with a later ... d5xc4 now actually leads to the loss of a pawn because Black can follow up with an immediate ... b7-b5 to protect his pawn. In fact Black goes on to play ... d5xc4 in most variations and in contrast to the Orthodox Queen's Gambit he gives up the centre, which he would like to go on to attack with pieces or the pawn lever ... e6-e5.

The Slav has the reputation of being a solid defence against 1.d4 and has been employed at the highest level by players such as Kasparov, Anand and Carlsen,


In the following diagrams you can return to the starting position with and from there you can go backwards and forwards through the opening moves with the arrow keys and

Subsequently click on the name of the opening in order to get more detailed information.

The Exchange Variation: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.cxd5 cxd5

In the Exchange Variation White chooses a symmetrical pawn structure and hopes to be able to exploit the advantage of having the first move. The players then usually first bring their knights into play before worrying about the development of the other pieces. Both sides then seek to place their bishops in front of the pawn chains. For White that means placing his dark-squared bishop on f4 while Black tries to develop his bishop to f5 before playing e7-e6.

Main Variation: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5

In the main variation both sides first develop their knights and on move 4 Black takes the c4-pawn. So that Black does not protect his pawn with … b7-b5 White plays 5.a2-a4. That gives Black the time to develop his light-squared bishop to f5, after which we have in principle the basic position of the main variation. White has several continuations available to him. He can prepare to recover the pawn on c4: he can play 6. Nf3-e5 in order to take on c4 with the knight or he can even choose the interesting move 6.Nf3-h4 attacking the bishop on f5.

Semi-Slav: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6

In principle the Seml-Slav Defence constitutes an independent opening but it is reached via the Slav if Black does not exchange on c4 on move 4 but strengthens his centre with … e7-e6. that first of all hems in the light-squared bishop on c8. Black plans to bring it into play later on the queenside after he has advanced the pawns.

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

1. d2-d4 d7-d5 2. c2-c4 c7-c6 3. Ng1-f3 Ng8-f6 4. Nb1-c3 e7-e6 5. e2-e3 Nbd7 White prepares the development of the light-squared bishop to d3 and Black develops his queen's knight. 6. Bf1-d3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b7-b5 8. Bc4-d3 White has developed his bishop and after the capture on c4 Black has taken the opportunity to attack the bishop with tempo and force it back. Now Black continues either with 8...Bc8-b7 or with 8...a7-a6. With both moves he is looking to expand on the queenside and free up his light-squared bishop. This plan is not without risk since he is underdeveloped on the kingside. But if he succeeds he has gained a lot of space .and can look positively to the future White tries, on the other hand, to hold his centre with a quick e3-e4 and free the way for his dark-squared bishop.

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

In the Anti-Meran Variation White avoids the complications of the Meran System and first develops the queen, which together with the knight on c3 controls the e4-square and thus makes possible the advance of the e-pawn. Black replies with the development of the dark-squared bishop to d6 and plans for his part to hold up the centre with the advance ...e6-e5 if possible. After move 6 White usually brings his light-squared bishop into play via. d3 or e2 and prepares to castle short. In this case Black castles and continues in similar fashion to the Meran System with expansion on the queenside. But White frequently plays 7.b2-b3 and plans to recapture on c4 with a pawn. In that case Black does without the pawn exchange on c4 and develops the light-squared bishop by means of ...b7-b6 and afterwards centralises his major pieces

Moscow Variation: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bxf6 Qxf6

Whenever White turns to 5. Bc1-g5 instead of 5. e2-e3, there arises a completely different complex of variations. In the Moscow Variation Black immediately attacks the bishop on g5 and White decides on an exchange of minor pieces. Like that Black obtains the bishop pair but is left lagging in development. As a rule White continues with 7. e2-e3 and the development of his light-squared bishop. Black puts his knight on d7 in order to obtain better control of the central squares and frequently fianchettoes his dark-squared bishop to g7.

Anti-Moscow Variation: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5

1. d2-d4 d7-d5 2. c2-c4 c7-c6 3. Ng1-f3 Ng8-f6 4. Nb1-c3 e7-e6 5. Bc1-g5 h7-h6 6. Bg5-h4 dxc4 In the Anti-Moscow Variation White does not exchange his bishop on f6, but retreats to h4 and offers on c4 a pawn sacrifice, which Black should accept. 7. e2-e4 White occupies the centre with a second pawn and would like to advance it further in order to attack the knight on f6. 7...g7-g5 Black unpins his knight with this attack on the bishop, but weakens his kingside. 8. Bh4-g3 b7-b5 A very tense situation has arisen. White has sacrificed a pawn, but possesses good control over the centre and Black has had to accept a weakening of his kingside. White goes on to develop his kingside and places his knight centrally on e5. Sometimes he also turns to the move h2-h4 in order to attack Black’s kingside. As a rule Black fianchettoes both his bishops and places the queen’s knight on d7. Sometimes the black king must remain in the middle of the board which makes playing Black difficult.

BotvinnikSystem: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Nxg5 hxg5 10.Bxg5 Nbd7

1. d2-d4 d7-d5 2. c2-c4 c7-c6 3. Ng1-f3 Ng8-f6 4. Nb1-c3 e7-e6 5. Bc1-g5 dxc4 Unlike in the Moscow Variation Black immediately takes the pawn on c4. Then after the following forced sequence of moves there ensues a very tactically charged and complicated position. 6. e2-e4 b7-b5 7. e4-e5 White has pushed forward the e-pawn and Black has protected his c-pawn. It looks as if White will win material as a result of the pin, but Black has his riposte ready. 7...h7-h6 8. Bg5-h4 g7-g5 Black responds with the counter-attack on the bishop. 9. Nxg5 hxg5 10. Bxg5 Nbd7 White has sacrificed a piece, but he will recover it through the pin on the knight on f6. He can now capture immediately on f6 with the pawn or first play 11. g2-g3 and prepare the development of his light-squared bishop to g2. Generally speaking, these are transpositions. In what follows Black concentrates on the development of the queenside and accordingly posts his bishop on b7.

Side variations

Tolush-Geller Gambit: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4

White wants to immediately question Black's concession in the centre. Instead of the cautious 5.a2-a4 he simply continues with e2-e4 and sacrifices the c4-pawn. Black now logically defends the extra pawn with 5... b7-b5 and creates a powerful majority on the queenside which will turn in a possibly winning passed pawn in the endgame, White, on the other hand, pushes forward with the e-pawn and goes for an attack on the king.