I know that the theoretical refutation of 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nf6?! is supposed to be 3.cxd5 Nxd5 4.Nf3.

Perhaps Black doesn't fear the refutation because he intends a gambit such as 3.cxd5 c6?! or 3.cxd5 c5?!.

My question is not about the refutation or the gambits. My question is, what if White declines to capture on d5, and plays 3.Nf3 or 3.Nc3? Does the game simply transpose into a normal line?

In that case, has Black gained or lost anything because of his funny move order?

If White is not going to play 3.cxd5, does 2...Nf6 have any advantage over normal moves like 2...dxc4 or 2...e6 or 2...c6 or 2...c5?


3 Answers 3


If you don't take on d5, I think the only advantage black has gained is flexibility. That means he can choose his opening according to your move. But you can be almost 100% sure that the opening will be transposed into some traditional line so white can't be worse, for example:

  • Slav Defence:

    [FEN ""]
    1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nf6?! 3. Nc3 (3. Nf3 c6) c6 {with the possibility of both Semi-Slav and Classical Slav Defence}
  • Queen's Gambit:

    [FEN ""]
    1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nf6?! 3. Nc3 (3. Nf3 e6 (3... dxc4 {Queen's Gambit Accepted})) e6 (3... dxc4 {Queen's Gambit Accepted})
  • Grünfeld Defence:

    [FEN ""]
    1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nf6?! 3. Nc3 g6

and there are probably many other transpositions...

In my opinion you have no reason not to play 3. cxd5. The position after 3... Nxd5 4. e4 (I think this is logical and even better than 4. Nf3) is very comfortable for white. You have a great center and black has to lose time again...

  • I agree with your answer, but 4. Nf3 is considered the refutation. See here for analysis: youtube.com/watch?v=2urOgXfleco&t=117s
    – user1108
    May 23, 2017 at 16:37
  • @Bad_Bishop: "This video is unavailable."... great
    – klopps
    Oct 26, 2017 at 20:18
  • 1
    @klopps: Link rot I'm afraid. I had a similar question the Marshall with a sample game (but references the same link rot video I'm afraid.)
    – user1108
    Oct 26, 2017 at 20:47

Another possible transposition after 3. Nc3:

After 1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 we arrive at a variation of the Chigorin Defense.

A particularly tricky line is the following.

[FEN ""]
[Title "Chigorin Defense"]
[Startply "6"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 e5

Playing 2...Nf6 requires black's willingness to play 3.cxd5 c6 lines, because black really needs a pawn recapture on d5. If he is ok with that and is prepared schematically for the lines arising after white declines playing cxd5, then sure, why not. Chess, like life, sometimes does not have absolute answers, especially at sub-Master levels. It is more important to feel comfortable with the kinds of positions you get than to have an absolute answer. Chances are, you or your opponent will play sub-optimal very soon, so the hand-wringing comes without cause.

  • 1
    After 3.cxd5 c6 I guess you'd play 4.dxc6, right? On 3.cxd5 c5 would you play 4.dxc6 just the same, or is one of the other moves better? (Not that it really matters at my level, as the game will be decided by whoever makes the last horrible blunder. Just asking out of curiosity.)
    – bof
    May 25, 2017 at 5:23
  • 1
    4. dxc6 accepts the pawn sacrifice for the sake of poor development and a lasting initiative for black. But, a pawn is a pawn. 3...c5 4.dxc6 transposes. Rather bland would be 3.cxd5 c5 4.Nf3 cxd4 5.Qxd4 Qxd5 with a symmetrical position. There is no magic in any of those moves. Just simple chess without overthinking, something we tend not to do in the openings as less-than-professional players.
    – Priyome
    May 25, 2017 at 16:34

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