5

My question relates the Cambridge Springs QGD when Black deviates from the main line by playing the well-known inaccuracy 7 Bd3.

[FEN "..."]   
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Nbd7 5. e3 c6 6. Nf3 Qa5 7. Bd3

I had always been taught to play 7...dxc4 8 Bxc4 Ne4 here. However, searching an up-to-date database of OTB games I see that of the 292 games to reach the position after 7 Bd3 118 players chose 7...Ne4, while only 97 chose 7...dxc4. Furthermore of the 13 players above 2200 who have got to this position as Black, 8 chose 7...Ne4, 4 chose 7...dxc4, and 1 chose 7...Bb4.

However, I don't understand why this should be. It seems to me 7...Ne4 8 Bxe4 dxe4 9 Ne5 (the usual continuation) White is doing relatively better than they would be doing after 7...dxc4 8 Bxc4 Ne4.

Am I missing something, or is the case that Black players are making a mistake by choosing 7...Ne4 instead of 7...dxc4?

5

7...dxc4 is absolutely just as good as 7...Ne4. Stockfish 10 (at depth 32) gives 7...dxc4 an evaluation of -0.31, while 7...Ne4 is 0.23. A difference of 118 games vs 96 games isn't a big deal and has very little weight in determining the objective strength of a move. So this is one of those cases where deciding which move to play is a matter of taste.

EDIT - according to online saved results, Stockfish (as of Aug 1 2019) at depth 47 gives 7...dxc4 a -0.43 evaluation. So it's definitely sound :)

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