A recent game of mine went like this (I was Black):

[FEN ""]
1.d4 Nf6 2.d5

Looking at the lichess database (amateur games book) I see that the more common responses are:

  • 2..d6
  • 2..c6
  • 2..e6

… in that order.

In the master games book there are only two games in this variation where the responses were 2..d6 and 2..c6.

I played 2..e5 which seems to be a rather infrequent response. The continuation in my game was:

[FEN ""]
1.d4 Nf6 2.d5 e5 3.dxe6 fxe6 4.Bg5 b6 5.e3 Bb7 6.Nc3 Nc6

I then proceeded to castle Queen-side and took advantage of the open f column. The game went well but apparently my response to the "pawn push variation" was suboptimal.

Can someone explain the ideas behind the more common responses and why 2..e5 is bad?

3 Answers 3


As you noticed there are very few games in the database with this line. That's why it does not make much sense to speak of "more common"/"infrequent" response here.

The move 2. d5 is not good, but not so bad that you can expect to get a huge advantage as black soon. Basically it gives away the first move advantage and gives black an equal position for free. Generally, if your opponent plays an unusual move like this to which you don't see an immediate refutation, stay calm and make normal moves.

Problems with 2. d5 are:

  • it neglects development (don't move a piece twice if you don't have to)
  • it weakens the dark squares in the centre
  • it does not do much; Typically a pawn push like this is meant to limit the opponents options. Here it prevents the knight going to c6, however the knight rarely wants to go to c6 in these kind of openings. Also black has not fixed the position of its central pawns so is free to attack the pawn at wish with c6, e6 ...

Your opening repertoire or your preference for closed vs open positions might influence your decision on how to respond to it.

If you are a King's Indian or Benoni player you could for instance transfer this to a main line King's Indian or Benoni. Or just go for a fianchetto on g7 first, trying to take advantage of the weakened dark squares and don't fix your central pawns yet.

If you don't mind unknown territory, 2 .. c6 seems like a good choice questioning the pawn immediately and giving you tactics with Qa5+ (and attack on d5) in some lines.

But any other continuation such as 2 ... e6, d6, e5, g6,.... can't be wrong either. I don't understand why you think that e5 was bad. The position you achieved seems quite normal to me.

  • 2 ... b5 might be another interesting independent path. But agree, nothing wrong with e5
    – Ian Bush
    Mar 23, 2017 at 11:12

Your 2) ... e5 was bad because it weakens d6 and f6.

So, for instance, Bg5 is now a much better move from white because of this. Also if white can arrange d6 and take control of the d6 square then you are completely lost. This was not even a remote possibility before your e5. Now it is something to worry about, a threat you have created against yourself.

From this you can see that although your e5 move was bad white's 3) de was a shocker! He completely throws away the big advantage you gave him and after your reply he is even behind in development.

  • Whites d5 gave Black complete freedom to put his pieces just where he wants them. In particular it gives up control of the central squares e5 and c5 that he secured with d4. In response, occupying one of those undefended squares with 2...e5 looks like a great start. If 3.Bg5, then 3..Bc5 occupies the other one, and creates amusing possibilities like 4.Nf3? Bxf2+ or 4...Ne4.
    – Philip Roe
    Sep 24, 2017 at 3:26
  • There is no advantage at all for White after 2.d5 e5, even less a "big advantage". Neither does your answer provide any concrete line for him to continue, for instance 3.Bg5?! which you seem to suggest passes the initiative to Black after either 3...Bc5 or 3...h6.
    – Evargalo
    Sep 25, 2017 at 14:09

Playing d4 and then d5 does not seem to be a great idea from White as it is only a pawn push and not develop any Piece . You can take ideas from Modern Benoni/Benko Gambit which have similar Pawn structures . The White Pawn d5 is an ideal move in both the openings . e5 is also an ok move but c5/c6 are somewhat better because they are a bit always from Centre and you should not lose the Centre pawns or allow Opponent to capture the centre with Pawns .

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