The main field of interest of this opening line is 3… d5, particularly the Exchange Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined – 4. cxd5 exd5. The Exchange Variation when the Knight is still on g1, was believed to be somewhat more pleasant for White, but thanks to Kramnik’s recent efforts it has again become fairly popular among the players of Black.
The most ambitious approach from White is 5. Bg5, where besides 5… Be7, which is covered in our Line 172, Black has an alternative of about the same strength – 5… c6. After the common 6. e3, Black has a few options like 6… h6 7. Bh4 Be7 or 6… Qb6, but move 6… Bf5 is the most popular one. White usually goes for 7. Qf3 Bg6 8. Bxf6 Qxf6 9. Qxf6 gxf6, and this endgame is generally considered to be solid for Black, but nonetheless it’s a bit favorable for White, as can be seen in M. Carlsen – V. Kramnik, Stavanger 2016.
[Diagram: White to Move] E. Bareev – Z. Hracek, Pardubice 1994. Bareev missed the opportunity to gain a strong attack with a typical breakthrough. What is the best way for White to continue in the diagrammed position?
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