In the position below White continues with e4 after, say, Black castles. :

[FEN ""]
[StartPly "10"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 

Question: How about e3 instead? Is there an outright refutation, or is it just stylistic choice?

I know a couple of QGD lines where after years of practice, people have started to try apparently less aggressive strategies, say by playing e3 and planning for a future e4 rather than an immediate e4 (which makes the game more dynamic and allows quick counterplay). The results have been better with the "slow" moves.

A follow-up: Does the inclusion of Bf4 and then e3 change the evaluation?

1 Answer 1


After your position, the most played move (at least by two orders of magnitude) is 6... O-O so I will focus on it only.

The main takeaway is that 7. e4 forbids 7... b6 (controlling the a8-h1 diagonal), but 7. e3 doesn't and black takes advantage of it by playing 7... b6.

If you want some engine statistics, Stockfish 22050407 evaluates

  1. e4 b6 as at least up 200 centipawns (+2) for white with best move e5, so most likely winning for white (WDL ratio ~950 white wins, ~50 draws, =0 black wins).
  2. e3 b6 as 0 centipawns, but black has better play overall.
  • 7. e4 a7 is better (slightly) for white, 7. e3 a7 is better (slightly) for black.
    – JSBach49
    May 7 at 21:49
  • 1
    do you mean a6? I don't think black can play a7. May 7 at 23:27
  • yes, a6 , typo sorry
    – JSBach49
    May 8 at 11:57
  • 2
    Thanks, I am glad I asked this question because your answer gave a new perspective previously unknown to me. The idea of a Bishop on b7 had not crossed my mind. If you don't mind, a follow-up question. What if we insert Bf4 first, I mean after Qxc4 0-0 we play Bf4 and then, say, in response to c6 or Na6, we play e3. Does this change the evaluation (from an engine's as well as human point of view) much? May 8 at 18:40
  • 2
    @BehnamEsmayli: Would interest me too. I'm one of the if-I-ever-develop-my-Bc1-it-desperately-misses-for-the-protection-of-b2 guys, and that even contrary to the old adage that Qxb2 is bad even if it's good :-) Here Qxb2 is a complete nonissue and the (temporarily?) incarceration of Bc1 might be relevant for the evaluation. May 9 at 8:56

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