[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR"]
[Title "Center Game Accepted"]
[StartFlipped "1"]

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Qxd4 c5??

Stockfish says that 3…c5 was a blunder and recommends 3…Nc6 instead.

The advantage goes from 0 to around +2.0.

Stockfish provides the following continuation:

[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR"]
[Title "Center Game Accepted"]
[StartFlipped "1"]
[StartPly "7"]

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Qxd4 c5?? 4. Qe5+ Qe7 5. Qxe7+ Bxe7

The advantage is still around +2.0.

The resulting position looks equal to me. Why is it better for White?

  • 3
    White will be able to get a firm grip on the d5 square, since black made a big hole there. One would have to go into far more detail to explain why it's +2.0 according to SF, but the weakness on d5 is by itself reason enough to claim that white is ahead. White will be able to set up with Nc3, Bc4 (and maybe a4 as well if black gets uppity) and Bf4 with excellent control over the position, and although I'm surprised to see that SF claims that white is winning I'm not at all surprised that SF claims that white is better.
    – Scounged
    Mar 31, 2022 at 20:09
  • 1
    A similar position is covered in this instructional video by a NM.
    – Edward
    Apr 2, 2022 at 1:26

2 Answers 2


3...c5 gets two question marks deservedly, not because it loses material, but because it is extremely antipositional and a strong player would win as White on autopilot. The c5 pawn is weak itself, it blocks the Bf8 , it can no longer protect the squares d5, b5 and d6. Any compensating "grip" on d4 is an illusion. It does surprise me a bit that the machine gives an advantage as great as +2.0 but I would really hate to have the Black position against a strong opponent. ..c5 is not a tactical blunder but a positional blunder.

An advantage of 2.0 does NOT mean that you can immediately win two pawns. White could easily give the advantage away, but with correct play Blacks position will gradually collapse under the weight of its own defects. I would start with 6.Nc3, eyeing the weak squares at d5 and b5. These are not so serious at the moment because if the Knight actually goes to either square Black can retreat Bd8, but later on it might be annoying. And if Black makes the natural reply 6..Nf6, White has 7.e5. So to prepare that move Black might try 6...d6, but then 7.Bf4 to be followed by 0-0-0.

Rather than attempt to analyse this position I suggest you try taking Black against your computer. Allow yourself as many takebacks as you like. I predict that you will be squashed. You will not be able to find anything constructive to do. Take note of how the machine exploits the weaknesses that I have mentioned.

Now give yourself the White pieces and see if you can give the computer a dose of its own medicine. Again give yourself any number of takebacks. I predict that the thrill of victory will be yours. I predict also, and certainly hope, that you gain a better understanding of what it means to hold a positional advantage.


c5 is a weird move, not only is it allowing white to potentially take control of the d4, g4 and f5 squares, which are perfect squares for the white knight or bishop. Additionally, the e4 is weak and developing the black knight to f6 just leads to e5, and potentially f4 next, leaving white with a extremely strong control of the center and king side.

I would usually recommend Nc6, preventing the queen from being annoying on the e5 square, plus your kicking white's queen away

[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR"]
[Title "Center Game Accepted"]
[StartFlipped "1"]
[StartPly "7"]

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qe3 d6

Here is an example, I have not analysed this yet, but this seems like a easily playable game for black, rather than black playing c5

Example game if c5 is played to be added in edit later

  • 2
    You are basically right, but White will normally play 4.Qe3 instead of retreating all the way back to d1.
    – bof
    Apr 1, 2022 at 1:51
  • thx, will black respond with b6? or what @bof
    – DialFrost
    Apr 1, 2022 at 1:56
  • Don't ask me, I'm no expert on the Center Game (or anything, really). I guess 4...d6 and 4...b6 are moves, but I seem to recall that 4...Nf6 is the most usual.
    – bof
    Apr 1, 2022 at 2:04

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