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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Slav and Semi-Slav : Lesson 3 - Main Line Slav Part 2 - The Central Variation

In this lesson we will discuss The Central Variation in Main Line Slav and summarize a few facts regarding the Main Line Slav. So let's start.

The Central Variation is characterized by White's 6th move 6. Ne5 to which Black can reply either with 6...e6 or 6...Nbd7.

The Central Variation: 6 Ne5 e6


The story so far: White builds the centre and Black has to avoid giving too much ground, so he sacrifices a piece for three pawns.

After the early tactical flurry things settle down to a period where White probes away at the pawn front with his extra piece, whilst Black hopes to keep formation and eventually advance further up the board.


This has been the ‘starting point’ for numerous games and the theory goes quite deep into the game.


Black hasn't done that well with the piece sacrifice line, only managing 37%. Nevertheless 6...e6 has remained more popular than 6...Nbd7.

Illustrative Games
  • G.Vescovi-B.Gelfand, Bermuda 2004
  • Slav-and-Semi-Slav/Vescovi-Gelfand.pgn
  • D.Rogozenko-A.Murariu, Bucharest 2002
  • Slav-and-Semi-Slav/Rogozenko-Murariu.pgn

The Central Variation: 6 Ne5 Nbd7


As Black reacts quickly with ...e6-e5 the centre opens up and active piece play comes to the fore. Black has then to continue in a positive frame of mind, as if he is too hesitant he will be worse, so he needs to react aggressively, even riskily.


Basically, yes. Black has to have some theoretical knowledge otherwise he'll probably just end up with a passive game.


Statistically it seems that 6...Nbd7 is Black's most promising choice in the Central Variation obtaining 40% (compared to the 37% achieved by 6...e6).

Morozevich's contributions score even better: 11...g5 manages 42%, and 11...f6 12 0-0 Nc5 as much as 45%.

Illustrative Games
  • M.Euwe-A.Alekhine, World Championship (1st matchgame), Netherlands 1937
  • Slav-and-Semi-Slav/Euwe-Alekhine.pgn
  • D.Rogozenko-J.Hector, Hamburg 2001
  • Slav-and-Semi-Slav/Rogozenko-Hector.pgn
  • J.Piket-L.Van Wely, Dutch League 2002
  • Slav-and-Semi-Slav/Piket-VanWely.pgn


The main line of the Slav with 5...Bf5 is very rich in possibilities for both sides.

The 6 e3 variation is largely positional with Black being well placed to cope with White's inevitable expansion. Despite extensive practical tests many of the key lines are considered to be strategically unclear.

The 6 Ne5 e6 variation leads to the unbalanced material situation of a piece for three pawns. Theory considers Black to be just about OK, but I have a personal preference for White. Instead 6...Nbd7 has been revived by Morozevich in recent years and I consider Black to be fine if he knows his stuff.

That's it for now. In the next lesson we will discuss some of Black's 5th move alternatives. Stay tuned and Enjoy!

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