I don't have an extensive knowledge of the opening theory of the two openings mentioned in the title. However, I do understand that, at a very basic level, in response to the Queen's Gambit the moves 2...c6 and 2...e6 have the effect of defending the d5 pawn as well as erecting a solid position for Black.

However, the move 2...c6 has a simple advantage: Black's queen bishop is more easily developed.

Why, then, is the move 2...e6 even played? What advantages does it have over 2...c6? It seems to me as though the move just impedes the development of a piece.

The same consideration applies to semi-slav type structures in which the queen bishop is still on c8. Why would one want to play e6 before playing Bg4 or Bf5?

3 Answers 3


It is not so easy to develop c8 bishop to f5 or g4 in any of these systems. You run into many tactics like Nh4 winning bishop on f5 for a knight, f3 e4 as in open Slav or Qb3 Ne5 stuff with bishop on g4. The bishop is often developed to b7 in both semislav and QGD. It is safe and effective square for him. It is better to have the bishop passive for a while than to go for long term disadvantage of exchanging it for a knight.

That being said, e6 is good developing move even with bishop on c8. Now you can look for differences in 2...c6 and 2...e6 systems. The advantage of c6 is that it threatens to win a pawn forcing white either to close the c1 bishop (meran) or to be prepared to sacrifice it (botvinik, moscow). The advantage of e6 is obvious, the active c7-c5 will be played in one move, it doesn't take c6 square from knight and it helps you develop kingside faster.

  • I would add that c6 allows the Exchange Slav which is something you usually want to avoid against weaker players. Feb 14, 2017 at 11:19
  • "It is not so easy to develop c8 bishop to f5 or g4 in any of these systems" is false. The main line of the Slav defense exactly favours to exchange the bishop on f5 (for the knight after 7.Nh4) as all of Black pawns will be places on light squares: as such you are actually getting rid of your "bad" bishop for the active White knight, and database shows that it is not so easy for white to take advantage of the doubled black pawns on f5 (on the other hands such doubled pawns very oftern prevent White initiatives like g4 and the like).
    – gented
    Feb 14, 2017 at 16:46
  • Not so easy doesn't mean impossible or bad. Semislav is more popular than Slav exactly because people don't like problems with bishop standing on f5. In Slav 7.Nh4 isn't main line, even if it is interesting one. This version is playable for black mainly because a2-a4 was played and b4 is seriously weakened, all pawns on light squares wouldn't be enough for this line to be good. In Slav you must be ready to meet Ne5 f3 e4 too. A lot of players don't like this much with black including me. In correspondence games Slav is very rare these days in top players matches.
    – hoacin
    Feb 14, 2017 at 17:19
  • In QGD th N also does not OFTEN play to c6 although it is available. So, this for the fact that the B diagonal is open in Slav but can not always develop necessarily. So, it is chess. You get one thing you have to give up another.
    – user13438
    Aug 29, 2022 at 9:28

2...e6 has the advantage of facilitating the development of the kingside, allowing for quick castling. Thus in a sense 2...e6 is the more "solid" move, while 2...c6 delays development to pursue strategic gains.

As hoacin points out, developing the light-squared bishop is easier said than done after 2...c6. To give one example, after the natural moves 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3, 4...Bf5? is a mistake because after 5. cxd5 cxd5 6. Qb3, there is no good way to defend the b7-pawn. Therefore black usually plays A) 4...dxc4 5. a4 and only now 5...Bf5, but this involves the concession of giving up the center, or B) 4...e6, blocking the bishop after all and moving into the Semi-Slav.

Of course, when you're talking about established openings with countless games, a few abstract ideas and lines don't tell the whole story, but hopefully this at least gives you a few ideas.


QGD had more strategic & Tactical Games in Database compared to Slav . Even it has more to learn and has wider variations. The above technical explanations also hold true .

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