Unexpected move in the QGD.

Technical questions regarding Openings, Middlegames, Endings etc.
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Robert Stokes
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Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Robert Stokes » Mon Aug 06, 2018 3:48 pm

I played in the lowest section of the weekend competition at the British Chess Championships in Hull. One game playing as white started 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 cxd exd 5 Bg5 Be7 6 e3. As far as I'm aware this is standard play in the queen's gambit declined. My opponent (who happened to be a woman from France) then played 6 ,,, Be6. This was a complete surprise to me as I have never had an opponent play that move after the sequence above.

I couldn't think of any response which would reveal the move to be a bad one, in fact the more I thought about it, the more it looked like a good move This is because the more usual 6 ... Nd7 blocks in the bishop. The next day, the only useful follow-up that I could think of is 7 Nge2 followed by 8 Nf4 threatening the bishop.

Would much better players than me like to comment? Why might I have never seen this move before?

Robert

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:13 pm

Robert Stokes wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 3:48 pm
Why might I have never seen this move before?
It's a rare choice and not one that I can recall being recommended or even mentioned in theory books. That's probably why you've never seen it. I don't think I have either. It's not a move that White has to take any particular note of, as you can just continue on automatic pilot with Bd3 and Nf3. Going for a hit on the Bishop with Ne2-f4 also looks sensible.

The Bishop isn't necessarily better placed on e6 than c8 and White will threaten b7 after Qb3.

The slightly more shocking one is where Black plays 3. .. a6 or 4. .. a6. That's another old move that some GMs including Adams have revived recently.

J T Melsom
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by J T Melsom » Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:27 pm

I'm not that strong a player but you are right that the move is unusual. The move can be seen to have a purpose, in that it protects the d pawn and develops a piece so is not necessarily 'bad' and at lower levels unlikely to be a decisive error, but the 'd' pawn is adequately protected and the bishop might be more useful somewhere else. It doesn't interfere or disrupt white's thematic play with Bd3 and Qc2, and as it doesn't interfere that would be the best path to follow. Its probably safer to stay within familiar realms of play than try and devise a slightly artificial plan to refute blacks play. My silicon friend sees nothing wrong with your idea of Nge2, but my database suggests Bd3 is more common. There are a lot of playable moves out there which don't get played because people are wedded to trying to impersonate grandmasters in the opening and doing so by rote, not with understanding.

J T Melsom
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by J T Melsom » Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:33 pm

Roger's post took less time to post than mine, but I dislike his suggestion that you continue on 'automatic pilot' . I think its just loose wording but even so should never be used in a coaching environment. When faced with a new or unusual move, you evaluate the move and then consider whether the thematic plans are appropriate or there is something better. Automatic pilot to my mind at least suggests bashing out moves regardless, and as I am at pains to explain to juniors who have been taught to play opening systems - you need to remember that your opponent gets to move and plan as well. [Of course there are some openings where the two sides do ignore each other, but lets ensure young and old players focus from the beginning of the game.]

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:20 pm

J T Melsom wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:33 pm
but I dislike his suggestion that you continue on 'automatic pilot' .
If you play White in the Exchange Variation Queens Gambit, there's a choice of plans as to where to deploy your pieces. Assuming you have studied how the moves fit together, you might as well carry on without wasting time trying to establish whether a move is plus 0.20 or plus 0.25.

J T Melsom
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by J T Melsom » Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:32 pm

Roger, my post clearly acknowledges that there are circumstances where less analysis is required, but it stresses that chess players should not play on automatic pilot especially when relatively inexperienced. It might work for you if you have extensive experience of the opening and know when to slow down, but any rushing is bound to cause problems for players at the level of the original poster. Indeed there is a case for taking time even in familiar positions, as it is probably easier to stop and have a proper think if you've played at a reasonable but slower tempo during the early stage of the game.

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:16 pm

A check of the ChessBase database shows a few examples, but none from players higher rated than c2300.

(it does seem to be a bit commoner if preceded by castling)
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:58 pm

Matt Mackenzie wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:16 pm
(it does seem to be a bit commoner if preceded by castling)
In the Trompowsky, it's quite a good move. 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 d5 3. Bxf6 exf6 4. e3 Be6 with the point of preventing c4, or making it into a sacrifice.

Richard Bates
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Richard Bates » Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:50 pm

A bishop on e6 in a Carlsbad, QGD exchange structure has no obvious advantage/purpose that is not equally served by a bishop on c8. With ‘fixed’ pawns on d5 and f7 it gains no increase in scope, and any N moving to d7 is usually temporary anyway. In fact in some ways it would only gain a purpose if White actively decided to exploit it by eg. Looking to exchange it for a N via f4 (not saying that is bad, just that it might at least ‘justify’ putting it there)

On the other hand it has many clear potential disadvantages - loosens control over e4, creates a target for a white f pawn advance, removes a potential square for a N routing via f8 etc.

That’s not to say that there aren’t circumstances where a B might be useful on e6 (supporting d5 in the event of a c5 advance, allowing a R to come to c8/d8, supporting a N sortie to c4 etc) but nothing that particularly justifies such early deployment.

So on balance, not really surprising it’s unusual.

Robert Stokes
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Robert Stokes » Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:56 pm

Thank you for your comments.

Robert

Paul Cooksey
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Paul Cooksey » Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:36 pm

I though it was an interesting question. In my opinion 6...Be6 is a reasonable move. At any level getting out of your opponents preparation can be worth more than playing the most accurate move.

My experience is mostly on the white side. I would be pretty happy to see 6...Be6. For a start, it rules out my opponent having excellent theoretical preparation in a main line.

Sometimes there is an immediate way to punish a second rate move. But more often they just make it easier to get a small advantage than the main lines. Be6 does seem a bit second rate because of the loss of flexibility Jonathan notes. Some of Black's reasonable plans are trying to play Bc8-f5 in one move,...Ne4 to swap some pieces, and expansion on kingside, Be6 is not so useful for any of these, so Black has taken away some of her good ideas for no reason.

I would not be very tempted by ne2-f4Xe6. It is a lot of time to swap off Black's worst minor piece. It might be a good idea at some point in the game, but the normal plans are probably better.

Roger is right on the facts there is not a huge difference between the different White plans in this position. But if you know several plans in an opening you can assess which one takes most advantage of the opponent not playing the mainline. Sometimes it will be significant and that is one of the major reasons understanding ideas is at least as important as memorising lines.

Here, Be6 is not a deterrent to playing the Kasparov plan with nge2, 0-0, f3, e4. It is a very dangerous line. But the bishop generally goes to e6, so not a disaster for Black either. I think Be6 is probably more of a concession against the Karpov plan with Nf3, 0-0 and b4. The GMs generally like to play an early Ne4 or Nh5 to stop white getting a very stable position with a slight advantage. But Be6 is sensible enough if Black is willing to just defend the structure.

So I am going Nf3 and expecting to get a small edge, but probably not more.

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