Queens Gambit Declined chess is very much part of the furniture in chess opening theory. It makes for more slow burning chess than what you might find in the KPG.
Make these openings and structures as familiar as old friends and these friends will serve you well.
You can think of the QGD as a tree trunk with two main branches. The divergence occurs on Black's third move. There are also a few offbeat tracks branching off as early as Black's second move.
White has just played 2.c4 offering Black the Queen's Gambit. Black can accept playing 2.dxc4. There are two main moves to decline and a number of other interesting choices.
He can play 2...c6 which is the Slav Defense. We will not talk about the Slav here. That is a separate discussion. Or he can go into the 2...e6 lines. Here we look at the sidelines on Black's second move. Then to those 2...e6 lines that do not include 3...Nf6 which leads to the Main Lines of the Queen's Gambit Declined.
The Chigorin Defense takes it's name from the man who first devised it, Mikhail Chigorin. Black's campaign starts in unorthodox fashion with a counter-intuitive maneuver. The Knight temporarily blocks the c-pawn's advance, usually a QGD no-no. This approach sets the tone for the game.
Chigorin excelled in closed positions and positions with broken pawn structures. He was a master who actually favored Knights over Bishops. They fitted much more readily into his plans.
His opening here falls into that category. Black not only concedes the Bishop pair but often gets positions where he has two Knights facing the two Bishops. In return he can make a mess out of White's pawns and also impede White's development and harmony.
It's not unusual for White to forego castling. It would be wrong to say one side tends to be better than the other. Both players face difficulties and both have chances. This is a highly tactical opening.
The Baltic Defense is another bold shot from Black. Again you are telling White that you are here to play with adventure. You are raising the stakes with an offer of a tactical duel.
The first thing this move does is it surprises White. Think about it. You have the White pieces. You're expecting something normal like 2...dxc4, 2...c6 or 2...e6. Moves you've played against many times before. But what's this 2.Bf5 madness? What is Black intending here? What's my best response?
You're two main choices must be the developing move 3.Nf3 or if you want to fight fire with fire 3.Qb3. Then you can expect 3...d5 and a very sharp game. The problem with 3.cxd5 is Black has 3...Bxb1. This makes d5 a more comfortable post for the Queen. Black will more than likely get an equal position.
The Marshall Defense shows up with 2...Nf6. This doesn't look like much but don't get complacent. It's easy to feel like you can just play 3.cxd5 Nd5 4.e4. You've got this great center!
Looks like White is better now and after 5.Nc3 to hold e4 things should be looking up. Except Black can undermine the center with 5...e5! Now what do you do?
Looks like you're pushing the pawn or taking on e5. Take and the Queens get traded and you're losing the right to castle. Remember your Knight is holding e4.
So what about 6.d5? Well Black will play 6...Bc5 with ...Ng4 hanging in the air, he's ready to castle and your mighty center has been humbled after the forced d5 push. White can get play with the right moves but it's easy to sleepwalk into problems.
The Austrian Defense (Symmetrical Defense) has yet to see it's heyday. So far it hasn't had a period of real growth in analysis. The best players have not yet said let's give this one a shot.
These are always the most interesting openings with their largely unexplored hallways and corridors. After 2...c5 you have the novel position shown. White continues in the Main Line with 3.cxd5, capturing towards the center. Black can play 3...Qxd5 but theory points to 3...Nf6, not allowing White to win tempi off the Queen.
Then comes 4.e4!, would you have found that? The sacrifice allows 5.dxc5 after the Knight gobbles up the e-pawn. Sure Black is taking the c-pawn but White is holding the d5-pawn. He has lots of space and can get really active pieces. This is the line that has stained the reputation of the Austrian Defense but maybe you can find improvements for Black?
So we've dealt with all relevant sidelines on Black's second move. What if you're playing a normal kind of game for at least the first two moves? I know, not like you right? But on a funny day you might play a more conventional move like 2...e6, taking us a step closer to the Main Lines in Queens Gambit Declined chess.
White plays the routine 3.Nc3 anticipating 3...Nf6 and the main starting position of the QGD. Can you still avoid the main variations at the heart of this beast? Of course, you can always duck and dive. If you don't know the theory on some of those monsters, you might just want to avoid them.
Perhaps a good working knowledge or even an intricate understanding of the three following variations will allow you to drag the game to a place where you have the edge. Where you know all of the fine points and your opponent isn't exactly sure where to put his foot.
After 3.Nc3 White is expecting 3...Nf6 and passage into the main variations. If you're concerned about the Exchange Variation in particular you have just the remedy. Play 3...Be7, the Alatortsev Defense.
If you play ...Nf6 first then you are open to the pin by 4.Bg5 or the Exchange Variation 4.cxd5 with Bg5 in the wings. This can be a little irritating as White has tricks in the Exchange with the c3-Knight also pressurizing d5.
3...Be7 eliminates a lot of the strife, controlling g5 immediately. When the Knight does eventually go to f6 he won't be subject to a pin. The d5-pawn will not be in such hot water. White can choose between the now much less dangerous 4.cxd5 or simply developing with 4.Nf3.
The Tarrasch Defense was the brainchild of the Father of German Chess, Siegbert Tarrasch. He did not even look at 3...Nf6 or any other move. He held that 3...c5 was the only rational way to proceed.
This view was based on his belief that the isolated d-pawn that Black would be left with after 4.cxd5 exd5 5.dxc5 Bxc5 would be a huge asset. Black would have more active pieces in the middlegame and this greater activity is something White should not allow.
Instead, Tarrasch maintained, White should play 4.e3 and wait for a better moment to break the tension. Furthermore, he insisted, Black should resist the temptation to make the 'same mistake' by 4...cxd4 5.exd4 dxc4 6.Bxc4 giving White the same 'asset'.
Assessments on the pros and cons of the isolated d-pawn have a major bearing on whether you should play this line. If you agree with him that the isolated d-pawn is a strength, adopt the Tarrasch. If you believe the isolated pawn is a liability in the endgame give 3...c5 a miss. Either way knowledge of this opening will help you effectively play against the lonely d-pawn.
The Noteboom Variation (Abrahams Variation) is brought into play by 3...c6 4.Nf3 dxc4. Looked like Black was settling in for a Slav Defense after his third move. But move 4 gives him a pawn majority against White's flimsy Queenside.
After the well timed Bishop moves in the sequence 5.e3 b5 6.a4 Bb4 7.Bd2 Bb7, suddenly Black has all his ducks in a row to get a serious initiative on this flank.
After 8.axb5 Bxc3 9.Bxc3 cxb5 10.b3 a5, White has unnerving visitors rolling into town. When 11.bxc4 b4 12.Bb2 Nf6 gets played, Black has two connected passed pawns with plenty of piece support.
And yet White has reasons to be cheerful. A powerful and mobile pawn center can be the key to victory. Both players have chances and cause for concern. Play with a never say die attitude, whichever color you have. Whether White or Black, you need to know the lines in this opening. Move order is critical. The Noteboom is a great choice for those who like chess on a knife edge.
Interesting little tracks running off the QGD before you even get to the main starting position. You can use any of these off ramps if you're not a huge fan of the Main Lines detailed ahead.
It's important to remember the Queen's Gambit can be declined in many ways. You don't need to play the theory-laden Main Lines. If you've decided that the QGD beats the QGA, you have options outside the main variations.
On the other hand why deny yourself the ability to play the Main Lines and get them working for your success. You find yourself in the main starting position after the moves: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 and several burgeoning variations have sprung out of this position.