Chess Opening Theory/1. d4

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Queen's Pawn Opening
a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position in Forsyth-Edwards Notation(FEN)

rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/3P4/8/PPP1PPPP/RNBQKBNR

Moves: 1.d4
ECO code: A40-A99, D00-D99 and E00-E99

Queen's Pawn Opening[edit]

1.d4[edit]

At this point, black must decide how to face white's aggression. Traditionally, the two most popular replies are 1...d5 and 1...Nf6. Other moves tend to allow white a broad center with 2. e4. Allowing the broad center was frowned upon in classical times, but is more of a matter of preference today. Another reason 1...d5 and 1...Nf6 are the main replies considered is that many of the alternatives transpose into main lines anyway. One notable exception, is the Dutch Defence: 1...f5 whose character is unique and prevents 2. e4. 1...d5 directly challenges white's plan to establish a broad center. 1...Nf6 prevents an immediate 2. e4 while maintaining flexibility to play a number of "Indian" systems or move back into a system typical of 1...d5.

To play 1. d4 well as white, white should learn the basic Queen's Gambit positions, the King's Indian, Queen's Indian, Nimzo-Indian positions, and perhaps be familiar with some of the Benoni positions. This may seem intimidating to the beginner, but fortunately it is not as difficult as it may at first sound. Also, there are several practical advantages to becoming familiar with playing 1. d4 as white:

  • 1. d4 openings tend to be more forgiving than 1. e4 openings as far as traps are concerned. Pieces should be mobilized quickly, but it is less common for a natural-looking move to lead to a sudden demise.
  • While there are many transpositions between the different 1. d4 openings, this is true because the underlying strategic goals are very similar. The Queen's Indian has much in common with some of the main variations of the Queen's Gambit Declined--much more so than the typical Caro-Kann has with the French Defence or Ruy Lopez in the 1. e4 world.
  • Even today, at least at amateur levels, the 1. d4 openings are still less frequently encountered than 1. e4 openings.

Statistics[edit]

Approximate chances: White win 38%, Draw 33%, Black win 29%
Estimated next move popularity: Nf6 55%, d5 28%, e6 5%, f5 3.5%, g6 3%, d6 3%, c5 1% other moves less than 1%
For a detailed statistical analysis of ten selected 1. d4 openings see
Comparing Chess Openings Part 3 (2014), J. Munshi, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2441568

Theory table[edit]

1. d4
1 2 3 4 5 6
King's Indian Defence d4
Nf6
c4
g6
Nc3
Bg7
e4
d6
Nf3
O-O
Be2
e5
=
Grunfeld Defence ...
...
...
...
...
d5
cxd5
Nxd5
e4
Nxc3
bxc3
Bg7
=
Benoni Defence ...
...
...
c5
d5
e6
Nc3
exd5
cxd5
d6
e4
g6
+/=
Budapest Gambit ...
...
...
e5
dxe5
Ng4
Bf4
Nc6
Nf3
Bb4+
Nbd2
Qe7
+/=
Queen's Indian Defence ...
...
...
e6
Nf3
b6
a3
Bb7
Nc3
d5
cxd5
Nxd5
+/=
Bogo-Indian Defence ...
...
...
...
...
Bb4+
Bd2
Qe7
g3
Nc6
Nc3
Bxc3
+/=
Nimzo-Indian Defence ...
...
...
...
Nc3
Bb4
e3
O-O
Bd3
d5
Nf3
c5
=
Closed Game ...
d5
c4
e6
Nc3
Nf6
Bg5
Be7
e3
O-O
Nf3
Nbd7
=
Slav Defence ...
...
c4
c6
Nf3
Nf6
Nc3
dxc4
a4
Bf5
e3
e6
=
Queen's Pawn/Semi-Slav ...
e6
c4
d5
Nc3
Nf6
Nf3
c6
e3
Nbd7
Bd3
dxc4
=
Neo-Old Indian ...
d6
c4
e5
Nf3
e4
Ng5
f5
Nc3
c6
Nh3
Nf6
=
Dutch Defence ...
f5
c4
Nf6
g3
g6
Bg2
Bg7
Nf3
O-O
O-O
d6
=
Queen's Pawn: Modern ...
g6
c4
Bg7
Nc3
d6
Nf3
Nd7
g3
e5
Bg2
Ne7
=
Old Benoni ...
c5
d5
e5
e4
d6
Nc3
Be7
Nf3
Bg4
h3
Bxf3
+/=

Other less common moves.

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References[edit]

  • Batsford Chess Openings 2 (1989, 1994). Garry Kasparov, Raymond Keene. ISBN 0-8050-3409-9.
  • Nunn's Chess Openings. 1999. John Nunn (Editor), Graham Burgess, John Emms, Joe Gallagher. ISBN 1-8574-4221-0.