I am a intermediate-level player. How can I proceed after a declined Queen's Gambit, as White?

  • 2
    Well, it does make a difference whether Black declines with e6 or e5...(I.e., since the game can develop into a bucketload of "normal" opening systems, a few more moves would make the question more specific. For example, in a well known standard position you can do a minority attack, an expansion in the center or a pawn storm after castling long, and all is well tried.) Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 21:02
  • On Black's 2nd move he can decline by playing c5, c6, e5, e6, Nc6, Nf6, or Bf5, among others. I believe 3.e3 is playable against any of those, although it's not necessarily the best. I guess you can play 3.e3 against anything except 2...b5 or 2...Bg4.
    – bof
    Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 0:37
  • In the standard QGD, you have 3 general plans. 1) The minority attack. 2) Control of the center with Nge2-g3, f3 and e4. 3) A kingside attack with O-O-O and and advance of the kingside pawns. Go to a chess database site and search for a collection of QGD games and look for these ganeral plans.
    – Mike Jones
    Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 2:26
  • 1
    @bof The Queen's Gambit Declined is the position after 2...e6. The other moves you suggest are different defences (c6, e5, Nc6 and Bf5 correspond to the Slav, Albin, Chigorin and Blatic defenses..., while Nf6 is not even considered by theory)
    – David
    Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 13:46
  • @David The question was asking about "a declined Queen's Gambit", not "The Queen's Gambit Declined". 2...Nf6 is considered by theory. It is considered bad, although the variation 3.cxd5 c6!? either transposes into the Exchange Slav or else is a playable gambit as gambits go.
    – bof
    Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 22:12

2 Answers 2


There are multiple options here. I'm not sure what you mean by "an intermediate player", so the amount of specific lines you'd like to study can differ. I'll focus instead on types of pawn structures and middlegames you can reach. Let's take the reference position 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6, even though there are different move orders available:

Black will sometimes play an eventual ...c5. This can lead to two types of pawn structures: the Semi-Tarrasch type, where you get pawns on e4 and d4 (see for instance 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 c5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4). This often leads to a comfortable position for White due to his superiority in the center and not enough counterplay chances for Black to compensate for it. Here you have an example from top level players.. This line has some similarities with the Grünfeld Defence (see 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3), but I'd say Black has more chances in the Grünfeld. In my opinion you should try to reach this pawn structure as often as possible.

Another typical pawn structure that is often reached is one with an isolated "d" pawn. You'll probably play both with and against that isolated pawn in several occasions, you that's also something you may want to get familiar with. chess.com has an article about it that you may want to check out Note that this structure can also be reached when the Queen's Gambit is accepted.

Then there's the "minority attack" type of game. This happens when you capture on d5 and your opponent retakes with his "e" pawn but ...c6 has been played instead of ...c5. Here you can play on the queenside trying to get your semi-open "c" file fully open. I'm not really well-versed here so I'll let someone else choose an illustrative example by editting this answer.

Finally, there are some lines where Black will enter some variation of the Slav Defence (with ...c6). I don't know how well you know the lines after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 and your preferred move choice can chance according to that. For instance, you can try 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 so now you can answer to 4...c6 with 5.Nbd2!? if that's the particular line you enjoy against the Slav (here your plan would be to make a quick e4 push). But if you're not interested in playing that then you may prefer 3.Nc3. There are several lines you can choose from and plenty of transpositions between them.

  • 1
    I'd also mention that GM Daniel King has recently been focusing on the queen's gambit declined in many of his latest videos on his powerplaychess channel on youtube, where he shows off different "model games" showcasing various middlegame plans for both sides. I think these videos are accessible for an intermediate player, although it's hard to tell exactly what "intermediate" actually entails here.
    – Scounged
    Commented Apr 18, 2021 at 9:43

Matthew Sadler's book Queen's Gambit Declined has received very high and widespread praise. Again it depends what you mean by "intermediate", but the book contains a ton of instructive games, and its clear and deep discussions of ideas should be helpful to players of a wide range of strengths.

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