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    The Slav Defense is a chess opening that begins with the moves:

    1. d4 d5
    2. c4 c6

    The Slav is one of the primary defenses to the Queen’s Gambit. Although it was analyzed as early as 1590, it was not until the 1920s that it started to be explored extensively. Many masters of Slavic descent helped develop the theory of this opening, including Alapin, Alekhine, Bogoljubov, and Vidmar.

    The Slav received an exhaustive test during the two Alekhine–Euwe World Championship matches in 1935 and 1937. Played by 11 of the first 13 world champions, this defense was particularly favored by Euwe, Botvinnik, and Smyslov. More recently the Slav has been adopted by Anand, Ivanchuk, Lautier, Short, and other top grandmasters, including use in six of the eight games that Vladimir Kramnik played as Black in the 2006 World Championship (in the other two, he played the related Semi-Slav Defense).

    Today the theory of the Slav is very extensive and well-developed.

    There are three main variations of the Slav:

    • The “Pure” Slav or Main Line Slav where Black attempts to develop the light-squared bishop to f5 or g4.
    • The a6 Slav or Chebanenko Slav with 4…a6.
    • The Semi-Slav with …e6 (without developing the light-squared bishop). The Semi-Slav Defense, a kind of a combination Queen’s Gambit Declined and Slav Defense, is a very complex opening in its own right. See the Semi-Slav Defense for details.
    • There is also a lesser option, the Schlechter Slav with …g6

    Black faces two major problems in many variations of the Queen’s Gambit Declined (QGD):

    1. Development of his queen bishop is difficult, as it is often blocked by a pawn on e6.
    2. The pawn structure offers White targets, especially the possibility of a minority attack on the queenside in the Exchange variation of the QGD.

    The “Pure” Slav and a6 Slav addresses these problems. Black’s queen bishop is unblocked; the pawn structure remains balanced. Also, if Black later takes the gambit pawn with …dxc4, the support provided by the pawn on c6 (and possibly …a6) allows …b5 which may threaten to keep the pawn, or drive away a white piece that has captured it, gaining Black a tempo for queenside expansion. On the other hand, Black usually will not be able to develop the queen bishop without first giving up the center with …dxc4, developing the bishop may leave the black queenside weak, and the thematic break …c5 incurs the loss of a tempo.

    The Slav can be entered by many move orders. The possibilities include 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6, 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 c6 3.d4 Nf6, and so on.



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