I have played the Catalan for something like 25 years, and to me the big secret explaining the opening's popularity is the following: You can expect a massive score against weaker players.
The key strategic factors in a successful Catalan are:
1) You achieve control/dominance over all four central squares, something rarely seen in other openings. (By the ...
The Catalan usually results in black exchanging his d5 pawn on c4, which leads to some pretty clear strategic goals on both side.
White plays for control of the e4 square to support the e-pawn, and pressuring the d5 pawn with pieces.
Black's freeing lever is c5, and thematic play centers around this push. If black can succeed, he often tries to expand ...
As you mentioned, 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 and 7.Qa4 a6 8.Qxc4 lead to the same position.
However, after 7.Qc2 a6, white has the option to play 8.a4, which is recommended by GM Avrukh in Grandmaster Repertoire 1A: The Catalan. According to the Game Database of ChessTempo, 8.a4 is a bit more popular than 8.Qxc4.
Having the choice of 8.a4 and 8.Qxc4 is probably the ...
Well, you were winning handily, and up material, and position. The move Nd4?? blundered a piece, and Bd2 actually makes it clearly worse, which is why the computer liked bxc3. Given two clear choices (that is, not two 0.00 or equivalent), the computer will always pick the one with the higher evaluation, and it did. Here is why it evaluated it as such.
Are there strong responses different from 4. .. e6 for black against 4. g3 that avoid the Catalan?
One interesting alternative is 4...Bf5, with very original play. Before playing e6, Black wants to develop and exchange its "bad" bishop; a move favored by top GMs such as Nakamura, Karjakin or Inarkiev.
[title "Mamedyarov (2760) vs. ...
It is a well deserved doubt that you have in this position. As a Catalan player, I like both continuations (i.e. Qxd8 or Nc3) for well defined reasons. First one important note on Catalan openings or similar positions:
White's play evolves around the positional play of minor pieces.
Meaning in any position resulting from a Catalan, you should reason by ...
Please get yourself a copy of Avrukh's 1.d4 book and also see the games of Anand-Topalov 2010 Wch match, which are really instructive for seeing the themes of the Catalan. If you want to follow a strong exponent of the Catalan, check out Kramnik's games.
First of all, 7... Nc6 is a good move and is the reason why 7. Ne5 isn't played so often anymore.
If black plays 7... c5, the books recommend 8. dxc5 Bxc5 9. Nc3 Qc7 10. Nxc4 Bxf2 11. Rxf2 Qxc4 12. Rxf6! gxf6 13. Bh6 (which I have also tried myself).
1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. g3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Ne5 c5 (7... Nc6) 8. dxc5 Bxc5 9....
After 11.bxc3, Qxc3 12.Qd2, Qxa1, there is no easy way to get the queen out. Black is going to have to give something back at some point.
If black tries to get the queen out immediately :
13. g3, (the fianchetto is threatening both to trap the queen and indirectly attacking the rook on a8) Qb1 14.Bg2. From here black only has four queen moves that don't ...
The idea of exchanging on d5 when Black goes for an early ...b6 is usually connected with play on the c-file: Nc3, Bf4, Rc1, maybe Qa4.
In this particular position, after ...Bxd2 Nbxd2, this plan is not available and the pawn exchange is much less promising. Here, you can stand with the main plan of preparing e2-e4 (with 0-0, Qc2, Rd1), or look for an ...
I play the Catalan in a constant basis, and in this position I would play Qb3 for the following reasons:
10.Qa4 => does not look that great because at any moment black can play Bd7 (gaining a tempo on the queen) and then Bc6, and thus, releasing some of the pressure in the light squares of the queenside.
After quickly looking at the differences, I think Qb3 is more suited if you want to fianchetto.
The queen puts pressure on b7 and d5 and combines nicely with a fianchettoed king bishop.
If the queen is on c2 black often plays g6, planning to fianchetto and also play Bf5 with tempo.
Both moves are equaly popular. The choice is yours!
Generally it seems to me if you want to keep the pawn on c4 with b5, white can play a4 which is cumbersome for black as protecting the pawn on b5 with c6 or a6 runs into pins on the a file or the h1-a8 diagonal. Even if you did manage this setup with pawns on a6, b5, c6 and c4 and maybe the bishop on b7 (or moving the rook out of the pins), black's light-...
It's possible to keep the pawn but at the expense of seriously weakening the queenside and fall behind in development. Keeping the pawn is certainly playable but you will need to know how not to be busted in the centre.
Keeping or giving the pawn, both possible in Catalan. Whether you like it or not depend on your personal preference.
Indeed, the Exchange QGD and a system against the Queen's Indian do not blend very well.
In his famous repertoire series on 1.d4, GM Avrukh opts for the Catalan, using the move orders 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 and 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3. For more information, see Volume 1A (published in 2015) and Volume 1B (published in 2016).
Instead, the repertoire ...
In double queen-pawn structure where x.cxd5 exd5 has occurred (sometimes called the Carlsbad structure) there is always the possibility of a "minority attack". This is more common in the QGD than in the Catalan but it is simply about the pawn islands. As you alluded to Black could end up with "hanging pawns" if he plays for c7-c5. If he doesn't, White will ...
In short, no, a priori the Catalan opening is not a gambit, because unlike the Queen's gambit, in Catalan d5 is played after white's c4, which means white is first to decide whether to take on d5 immediately or let black take on c4. Whereas, to clarify the contrast, in the Queen's gambit, 1. d4 d5 2. c4 black is the side with the tempo to decide whether or ...
As far as i understand the Catalan is a variation of the queens gambit, so yes, it is a gambit. However, like in the regular queens gambit, in most lines white gets the pawn confortably back, black has to run big risks to keep it. Not to mention that you can play 5.Qa4+ to get the pawn back immediately, though this is not the most ambitious approach.
The difference is that Qc2 will allow you to later push the b pawn at the expense of you pressuring the black b7 pawn. With the Queen on c2 you also gain the option of combining the Qc2 and Bd3 against the h7 pawn later when the black King is castle. I recommend delaying the Queen move until later. Develop your pieces and castle first.