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Every Russian Schoolboy Knows: New ideas in the Catalan - Part 1

Opening: E09: Catalan

Player(s): Gelfand, Stupak, Cornette, Lopez

The Catalan is an interesting opening. The way I see it, it came up as an attempt to blend in hypermodern ideas of the Reti into a frame of the Queens Gambit Declined. The fianchetto helps White to maintain control of the center and respond better to Black's breaks with c7-c5 or e6-e5. Generally speaking, Black has always had its best success with d5xc4 lines, underlining one drawback of the Catalan as White's inability to recapture on c4 with the bishop. Yet, a more traditional approach with c7-c6, known as the Closed Catalan has also had some staying power. Black almost always plays c7-c6 before b7-b6 to be able to recapture on d5 with the c-pawn, at least until White commits his b1-knight. For years we have seen this pattern of play: White goes Qc2, b3, Rd1 and waits for Black to decide where to place his bishop. On Bb7, White responds with Nc3, while Ba6 might necessitate Nbd2. Until now. The games analyzed in this video series feature White playing Nbd2 immediately in replay to c7-c6. The point is to facilitate the e2-e4 advance. Some may not consider it very dangerous because the white knight isn't optimally placed on d2 in the resulting French-like structures. Gelfand-Stupak provides an answer to that problem.

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