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I have come to be a bit sick of Queen's Gambit Declined/Slav Defense type positions as black. But I struggle to find anything to play against 1.d4 which doesn't soon transpose into that.

It seems difficult to avoid playing ..d5 in one of the first moves, because without it, Nc6 is met by d5. And as soon as ..d5 is played by black, c5 comes, and there we go again.

What are some interesting alternatives? I'm around 1600 on Lichess, so dubious, dynamic openings are just fine by me.

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  • Do you prefer open or closed positions?
    – cmgchess
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 22:31
  • Open. My favourite ones are either gambits with full-on attacks that succeed or die quickly, or positions where both players are simultaneously attacking. Commented May 3, 2023 at 2:43
  • I'm also looking at the Albin Counter-Gambit now, which looks fun, and can definitely break out of the standard QGD positions. Commented May 3, 2023 at 2:44
  • Speaking of gambits Budapest and benko gambit comes to mind. Chigorin is also interesting and exclusively played by morozevich (who also happens to play albin a lot) and rapport.
    – cmgchess
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 3:08

3 Answers 3

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The King's Indian Defence is the first thing that comes to my mind. You'll have to like the pawn structures that arise from e.g. the Main line, with White trying to break through on the queenside while Black is mounting a king attack; computers often give a pawn or so advantage to White, but Black's chances are much better than that. But it's definitely different than the QGD structures you don't like, even if White tries to sidestep with e.g. the Exchange variation or the Sämisch.

Another alternative would be the Dutch defence, especially the Leningrad variation with ...g6. It may be a bit dubious at master level but perfectly playable for you and me.

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  • Second this. I was a mostly Slav player looking for a change. I played Dutch for a while and loved the Leningrad, but didn't get to it often enough, so switched to King's Indian which is mostly what I play now. Commented May 2, 2023 at 13:15
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A few choices where White will have it hard to get into a QGD-like position:

  • King's Indian: probably the "obvious" choice.
  • Queen's Gambit Accepted: use the time your opponent loses recapturing the pawn to strike back in the center (for example 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 e5!? or 3.Nf3 Ng6 4.e3 c5!?)
  • Grünfeld Defense: you also get a d4-vs-d5 type of center in the lines where White doesn't take on d5 (after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5) but it usually ends up getting liquidated early on.
  • Dutch Defense. many interesting lines to choose from, each leaving you with different types of positions. From the more dynamic Leningrad to the stalest Stonewall.
  • Old Indian: similar themes to the King's Indian but in less-known territory.

But you can also go for lines that try to conquer your fears! After all, if your issue is what to do about the knight on b8, there are several solutions!

  • The Nimzo-Indian is a way to keep your options flexible before deciding if you want to play ...d5 or go for something else instead depending on how your opponent sets up. After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4, depending on White's next move you'll be able to choose between ...0-0, ...d5, ...d6, ...c5 and ...b6, before or after taking the knight
  • The Tarrasch Defense is probably the most active way to play the QGD, striking early on c5 so you don't have to worry about your knight being kicked away. For example 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 c5 5.e3 Nc6 and Black is doing fine)
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  • Those are some great suggestions, thank you! Commented May 4, 2023 at 0:23
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The Benoni defence 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5, which normally continues 3. d5, seems to fit. You then have the choice between continuing more solidly with 3... e5 or 3... e6 and playing the Benko gambit 3... b5.

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  • White could go 3.e3 though
    – David
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 14:04

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