I was playing with the white pieces yesterday and faced this opening frequently!

[FEN ""]
1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nc3 e6 4. e4 Ne7 5.Nf3 d5

This opening annoyed me because during the whole game I didn't know what to play for. I couldn't identify a plan such as a pawn break, control a square, exchange certain pieces, etc. Let me know if you have any ideas for how white should face this, and what Black is aiming for in this pawn structure in general. I'm flexible to change my move after 3.Nc3. I was considering to play this

[FEN ""]
1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nc3 e6 4. Nf3 Ne7 5.g3 d5 6.cxd5 exd5 7.Bg2

If Black plays 7...c6 in this position, then I end up with a carlsbad structure on the queenside and a fianchetto pawn structure on the kingside which I don't know if it's a good idea. My idea was to go for a minority attack and the light square bishop will help on the long h1-a8 diagonal as if it's an English opening.

  • you can also play the second one like a catalan
    – brekker
    Commented Jan 9, 2023 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


I would like to see the game that you played in the first line, because the opening position that you shared looks very appealing to me to play as the White pieces. I will highlight a few lines (3-4 moves further) to show different plans that White can have here.

Modern Defense against 1. d4 (After 10 known plies)

The analyzed position is after 10 plies, and we can reach this position in a variety of ways. Note that we are not discussing the moves until this point, just figuring out plans to proceed, both for White and Black.

[FEN ""]
1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nc3 e6 4. e4 Ne7 5. Nf3 d5

Pros for White

  • Great presence in the center
  • More active developed pieces
  • Open lines for the Bishops

Pros for Black

  • Strong dark squared Bishop on the long diagonal
  • Very close to achieving a safe position for the Black King
  • Fair claim to the center after the d5 push, asking White how he wants to proceed

Sixth move options to consider, with basic ideas


This option seems the most appealing to me. The idea is to immediately try and block the fianchettoed Bishop, and gain spatial advantage. Black's best response is c5, trying to disrupt the pawn chain on the long diagonal, hitting at d4. Another viable response is castling, and then see what White does.

6..c5 line

[FEN ""]
1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nc3 e6 4. e4 Ne7 5. Nf3 d5 6. e5 c5 7. dxc5 Nd7 8. Bg5 Nxe5 9. cxd5 exd5 10. Bb5+ N5c6 11. O-O O-O

Note that 7..O-O and 7..Nc6 are also viable, and you should explore those lines as well. But here, we essentially get an active position, and a clear target in the Black camp in the form of an Isolated Queen's Pawn. Note that Black will try to advance the IQP and use it as a menace, and White needs to be a bit careful as well, but studying IQP middlegames will definitely help here.

6..O-O line

[FEN ""]
1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nc3 e6 4. e4 Ne7 5. Nf3 d5 6. e5 O-O 7. Bg5 dxc4 8. Bxc4 h6 9. Be3 Nf5 10. Qe2 Nd7 11. O-O-O

White can plan development eventually leading to safe Queenside castling, and following it up with an eventual Kingside pawn storm, which should break through more easily, as Black has already made weakening pawn moves on the Kingside.


This is probably the most flexible option for White, and after exd5, a lot of options are available, including e5, Bd3, exd5, Bb5+. Skipping posting a line, as the viable tree is very thick, and some of the main options, lead to transposed lines as well.


Taking with the e pawn doesn't appeal to me personally, but is definitely viable here, as shown.

[FEN ""]
1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nc3 e6 4. e4 Ne7 5. Nf3 d5 6. exd5 exd5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Bg5 Nxc3 9. bxc3 Qd6 10. Bc4 O-O 11. O-O

Interesting position for the middlegame, White has more activity, and a semi-open b-file to focus on, while Black can maybe try to attack the weak pawns on a and c files.


After this move, a move like h6 is definitely on the radar for Black, but assuming that the idea behind d5 was to challenge the e4 pawn, we explore the dxe4 line here.

[FEN ""]
1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nc3 e6 4. e4 Ne7 5. Nf3 d5 6. Bg5 dxe4 7. Nxe4 Nbc6 8. Qd2 f5 9. Nc3 Nxd4 10. O-O-O c5 11. Nxd4 Qxd4 12. Nb5 Qxd2+ 13. Rxd2

Queenless middlegame, where White's pieces are clearly more active. Black is temporarily up a pawn, which White can win back if it wants, but maybe playing for activity and attacking a King stuck in the center is a better plan here.


c5 is the best response to this, but mainly I see players taking on c4 after this move to gain a tempo on the Bishop. However, it is not in Black's best interests to take here.

[FEN ""]
1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nc3 e6 4. e4 Ne7 5. Nf3 d5 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 O-O 8. O-O Nbc6 9. Bg5 h6 10. Be3 f5?

I don't see any good moves for Black after 10. Be3, maybe I'm missing something, but I evaluate this position as very passive for Black, with great chances for White.


  • All seem viable options, and can be explored further


The opening discussed can take many different paths, with lots of ideas that can be discussed, but from White's perspective, identifying when to resolve the central tension, and developing the Bishops actively on the 4th or 5th ranks seems to be the key here. It should be easy to get to the middlegame with more actively developed pieces, and try to press for an advantage.

  • Thanks a lot for the detailed explanation. Yea this position is rich in ideas, and I still suffer to understand some ideas in it.
    – Guess601
    Commented Jun 30, 2023 at 18:03

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