6

Being primarily a 1. d4 player, I often face Slav defense. However, I have much more experience and understanding of Catalan structures and would like to get something similar against the Slav response.

Consider:

 [FEN "rnbqkb1r/pp2pppp/2p2n2/3p4/2PP4/5N2/PP2PPPP/RNBQKB1R w KQkq - 2 4"]
 [StartPly "6"]
 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6

In this position, only two moves, in my opinion, lead to Catalan-like structures: 4. g3 and 4. Qc2. The other options, including 4. Qb3, are more going towards typical Slav positions.

 [FEN "rnbqkb1r/pp2pppp/2p2n2/3p4/2PP4/5N2/PP2PPPP/RNBQKB1R w KQkq - 2 4"]
 [StartPly "6"]
 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 (4. Qc2) (4. Qb3)

In this question, the discussion was between 4. Qc2 and 4. Qb3, and I am not sure I am too fond of 4. Qb3 (simply based on the positions I like to get).

After 4. g3, the following is possible and quite likely:

 [FEN "rnbqkb1r/pp2pppp/2p2n2/3p4/2PP4/5N2/PP2PPPP/RNBQKB1R w KQkq - 2 4"]
 [StartPly "8"]
 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 e6 (4...dxc4) 5. Bg2

and via a very popular 4. .. e6, we are in a typical Catalan structure where dxc4 just has not happened yet, or via 4...dxc4 directly with the same 5. Bg2 reply for white.

Are there strong responses different from 4. .. e6 for black against 4. g3 that avoid the Catalan? Are there better ways to achieve Catalan or Catalan-like structures with white against Slav?

6

Are there strong responses different from 4. .. e6 for black against 4. g3 that avoid the Catalan?

4...Bf5

One interesting alternative is 4...Bf5, with very original play. Before playing e6, Black wants to develop and exchange its "bad" bishop; a move favored by top GMs such as Nakamura, Karjakin or Inarkiev.

[fen ""]
[title "Mamedyarov (2760) vs. Nakamura (2772), Gashimov Mem 2014"]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 Bf5!? 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Be4 (6...Bg4 {was played by Karjakin}) (6...dxc4 {see next game}) 7.f3 Bg6 8.Qb3 Qb6 9.Nxg6 hxg6 10.c5 Qc7 11.e4 Be7 12.Bf4 Qc8 13.exd5 Nxd5 14.Nxd5 cxd5 15.O-O-O Nc6 16.Kb1 g5 17.Be3 f5 18.g4 f4 19.Bf2 Kf7 20.Re1 b6 21.Qa4 bxc5 22.Ba6 Qc7 23.Bb5 Rab8 24.Rxe6 Kxe6 25.Bxc6 Rhd8 26.dxc5 Bf6 27.Bd4 Kf7 28.Rd1 Kf8 29.a3 Bxd4 30.Rxd4 Qe5 31.Rd2 Qe1+ 32.Rd1 Qe2 33.b4 Qxf3 34.Kb2 Qxg4 35.Qc2 Qe6 36.Ba4 Kg8 37.Bb3 Kh8 38.c6 Rd6 39.Rc1 f3 40.Qc5 Qf6+ 41.Ka2 f2 42.c7 Rc8 43.Rf1 d4 44.h4 Qf3 45.Bc4 Rc6 46.Qxd4 R6xc7 47.Rxf2 Rxc4 0-1 

[fen ""]
[title "Halkias (2552) vs. Inarkiev (2693), Sunway Sitges Op 2018"]

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.g3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 dxc4 7.Nxf5 exf5 8.e3 Nbd7 9.Qf3 g6 10.Bxc4 Nb6 11.Bb3 Bd6 12.h3 h5 13.Bd2 Qe7 14.Kf1 Ne4 15.Nxe4 fxe4 16.Qe2 h4 17.g4 O-O-O 18.Rc1 Kb8 19.Ba5 f5 20.Bxb6 axb6 21.Ke1 Rhf8 22.gxf5 Rxf5 23.Qg4 c5 24.dxc5 Bxc5 25.Rc2 Qd6 26.Bc4 Bb4+ 27.Ke2 b5 28.Qxe4 bxc4 29.Qxc4 Rxf2+ 0-1

4...g6

Another response is 4...g6 also played by top GMs including Caruana, Grischuk, or Giri. Caruana and Grischuk play this line with Black and also White! But sometimes after a transposition (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 c6 4.Nf3 d5)

A recent example:

[fen ""]
[title "Caruana (2819) vs. Giri (2779), Croatia 2019"] 

1.c4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 g6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.O-O O-O 7.Nbd2 a5 8.b3 Bf5 9.e3 a4 10.Ba3 Nbd7 11.cxd5 Nxd5 12.Qc1 Nc7 13.Nc4 Nb5 14.Bb2 Be4 15.b4 Nb6 16.Nxb6 Qxb6 17.a3 Qd8 18.Nd2 Bxg2 19.Kxg2 Qd5+ 20.Kg1 Nd6 21.Qc2 e5 22.e4 Qe6 23.dxe5 Bxe5 24.Bxe5 Qxe5 25.Rae1 Nb5 26.Nf3 Qc3 27.Qxc3 Nxc3 28.Re3 Nb5 29.Ne5 Rfd8 30.Nc4 Rd4 31.Rc1 Nd6 32.Nxd6 Rxd6 33.Rc5 Rad8 34.b5 cxb5 35.Rxb5 Rd3 36.Rxd3 Rxd3 37.Rxb7 Rxa3 38.Ra7 g5 39.Kg2 Kg7 40.e5 Kg6 41.Ra6+ Kg7 42.h4 gxh4 43.gxh4 h5 44.f4 f5 45.exf6+ Kf7 46.Ra5 Kxf6 47.Rxh5 Rb3 48.Ra5 a3 49.h5 Kg7 50.Ra6 Kh7 51.Kf2 Rh3 52.Kg2 Rb3 53.Kf2 Rh3 54.Kg2 ½-½
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