I'm looking for an easy variation to learn against the Semislav. Note that I play d4, c4, Nc3 against many openings. I tried to play the 5.Bg5 line but I felt that it was full of memorization:

[FEN ""]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 e6 5.Bg5

So I switched to playing the Bogolyubov line which avoids the Slav dxc4 because my Bishop can take it with temp:

[FEN ""]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.e3 Nf6 (3...Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 Nf6 6.O-O) (3...e6 4.Nc3 Bb4 (4...f5)) 4.Nc3 e6 (4...g6)(4...Nbd7)(4...a6)(4...Bf5) 5.Nf3 Be7 (5...Nbd7)(5...Bd6)(5...dxc4) 6. Bd3 Nbd7 (6...O-O) (6...dxc4) 7. O-O O-O

Btw, I tried playing the slav with white before switching to the Bogolyubov line as

[FEN ""]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.a4

But I didn't like them that much. Maybe because I haven't read about them a lot. As you can see, there are tons of variations in the Bogolyubov line, including the Meran. It's too much! I would really appreciate it if somebody can give me either an easy line against the Semislav that avoids the Slav, or two easy lines against Semislav and slav.

  • 1
    Have you considered 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 lines?
    – David
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 14:44
  • @David yes, and I also didn't feel comfortable with it because Black can play a stonewall/dutch against it, or normal slav with 4...Bf5, or chebanenko slav 4...a6, or 3...dxc4, or 4...g6, or 4...Nbd7 transposing into a Meran. Most of these lines are already covered in the second line that I provided and was complaining that it's too much. I was thinking of the exchange slav but I felt it's too dry maybe, I'm not sure.
    – Guess601
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 16:40
  • 5
    It is perhaps too much to ask for a single answer against something as broad and good as the slav. I play d4, c4, Nc3 whenever I can. I have plans for Chebanenko, Schlechter, Winawar, meran. I am happy to play white against a stonewall dutch. Perhaps you would like a repertoire book that covers these lines? One book that strives to keep things as simple as possible is John Watson's "A Strategic Chess Opening for White" it is built around d4, c4, Nc3. The slav and semi-slav lines are 30 pages. As always, knowing the ideas is most important. Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 19:16
  • Thanks for the reference! I'll check it out soon.
    – Guess601
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 21:11
  • 1
    You can avoid Meran with Anti-Meran, but for most part the lines that you are showing are not very critical, and general understanding of these positions is much more important than memorization of concrete lines. Focus on plans that white and black has in these positions not specific lines.
    – Akavall
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 21:48

3 Answers 3


I have played Semi-Slav for about a decade as my main opening as black and I also frequently play it as white. I think it's not possible to combine all of your wishes. You would like to play 1.d4, 2.c4, 3.Nc3 but then you don't like 4.e3 or 4.Nf3. There's no good alternative to those on the fourth move (except transposing to exchange variation but that should've been done already earlier).

I suggest you could try 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Qb3. Game might continue 4...dxc5 5.Qxc5 Bf5 (5...Bg4 is common as well) 6.g3 e6 7.Bg2. White has a slight but lasting advantage and you don't have to know much theory.

Another a bit more rare option would be 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3, after which game might continue 4...Bf5 5.Nc3 6.e6 Nh4. There's not much theory to learn, White has a slight advantage and it's not that simple to play for Black. At your level I would expect black players to be unprepared for this line.


The easiest to learn is the exchange variation. It leads to the persistent opening advantage, but doesn't offer much opportunity for a crushing win. This is the line I played when I had to face the Slav.

[FEN ""]

[White "?"]
[Black "?"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Nf6 6. Bf4 Bf5 (6... a6 7. Ne5)
7. e3 e6 8. Bb5 Rc8 9. Qa4 Nd7 10. Bxc6 Rxc6 11. Qxa7 Qc8 12. Qa5 Ra6 13. Qc7
Qa8 14. O-O Bd3 (14... Rc6 15. Nb5) 15. Rfc1 Rc6 16. Nxd5 exd5 17. Rxc6 bxc6 18.
Ne5 Nxe5 19. Qxe5+ Be7 (19... Kd7 20. Qc7+ Ke8 21. Rc1) *
  • To do this, white also has to play the Exchange QGD, to avoid that move order, which could be an issue
    – pulsar512b
    Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 23:18
  • +1 Exchange Slav would've been one of my suggestions as well. I'd like to add to this answer that there are several different ways of playing it for White. The variation shown is very old line and by no means the best one. It's possible to try to fight for a real opening advantage in the exchange variation but the example variation is just a draw.
    – nyymi
    Commented Sep 11, 2021 at 9:21

1PK4 aka e4 would avoid the slav issues.

My experience says there is no real answer to what you wish were possible after you start with 1 d4 d5 and 2c4 c6 then 3 nc3.

  • 3
    1. d4? doesn't seem to answer the question about how to play against Semislav Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 20:40
  • 1
    @MichaelWest huh??? I said play e4 to avoid the semi slav not d4.
    – gep wemple
    Commented Nov 18, 2020 at 19:14

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