Opening Theory - Slav SW, The Knight’s syndicate!

I had a creative spasm the other week.
I have been playing the Slav for as long as I can remember. Not exclusively but it has always been one of my favorites.

I played and lost a few games against the Stonewall these last few months. That got me both irritated an intrigued so I tried to play it myself. it’s pretty useful, doesn’t really give much and there is always …g5 lurking in the fog.

Personally I’m quite comfortable with both 1.e4 and 1.d4. but I have been playing 1.d4 more and more the last year and have enjoyed to follow many of Avrukh’s repertoire suggestions.
In his first cover he talks about the transformation of the Slav to a SW. he says it’s relatively uncommon and explains how white should handle his position inorder to secure a decent plus.

A thought came to my mind upon following his pages.
“why should black cramp himself so much?” …
To make this story short I suddenly saw this next development idea:


The idea is simple, you deploy the b8 Knight to f6 and the g8 Knight to f7. Why?
For these reasons:

A) first of all it’s sound
B) it can’t really be stopped unless white changes the game’s theme by capturing the centre which in that case the game is even more drawish than it is now.
C) With Knights on f6 and f7 Black protects both e5 from penetration of a White Knight and defends his own e4 control. But isn’t that the same case with the Knights on f6 and d7 like in the normal lines? yes, but… with this development black gains something extra. The LSB is freer, it has one more square to maneuver itself to and it over protects the e6 pawn. And second, …g5 which is the normal attacking theme of the SW is actually playable right away without the preparation of …h6 (since the Knight on f7 supports it) of course playing ..h6 / …g5 is even stronger with a Knight on f7.
D) Should Black want to play his DSB to d6 (which I’m not sure is needed in this opening format since white usually plays f4 anyway) it is now slightly better placed with the Queen guarding its post.

So, in short, it gives Black a freer position while keeping pretty much everything under control and perhaps even make the normal themes stronger.


So far I played it 4 times, won 2 and drew 2. Not a bad score at all.

Here is a sample of the normal themes of this unusual position.
This is a game I played against my friend (on ICC) Phosphorus. He too plays the Avrukh repertoire.

[Event "ICC"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2010.12.20"]
[White "Phosphorus"]
[Black "MusiqueWand"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2133"]
[BlackElo "2361"]
[ECO "D11"]
[Opening "QGD Slav"]
[Variation "3.Nf3"]
[TimeControl "5400+90"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 e6 4. e3 Nd7

(It is quite reasonable to play …f5 first I just find this move slightly more cunning)

5. b3 f5 6. Bd3 Ndf6


7. O-O Nh6 8. Ba3 

(a very common theme. White is opting for this strategic notion that Black should suffer later on from the disappearance of his “only good Bishop”. Honestly, I’m not so sure that it has the same effect here because as I mentioned, White usually plays f4 anyway so it would have been a “bad” Bishop either way.)

Bxa3 9. Nxa3 Qe7 10. Nc2 Nf7 11. Ne5 O-O 12. Nxf7!? Rxf7 13. f4 b6! 14. Ne1 Bb7 15. Nf3 c5!!

(Otherwise White can penetrate with c5 himself or try to open up the centre in a way that will be beneficial for him)

16. Ne5 Rff8 17. Qe2 Nd7

(maintaining the control over e5)

18. Nf3! h6!? 

(sooner or later that …g5 thrust will be an option to consider)

19. Rac1 cxd4!?

(the next few moves are not best. Black had better moves but I had an interesting positional plan that at the very least was well calculated I just missed his 21.Rxc4, that was a slight inconvenience.)

20. exd4 dxc4 21. Rxc4 Qd6 22. Kh1 Bd5 23. Rc2 Rac8 24. Ne5 Nxe5 25. dxe5 Rxc2 26. Qxc2 Qb4 27. Be2 Qd4! 28. h3 g5!!

(…g5! Basically decided the game)

29. fxg5 hxg5 30. Qc1 Rf7!!? 31. Qxg5+??

(Unfortunately he fell for the tactic. The game could have been drawn after Bf3 with complications)

Rg7 32. Qd8+ Kh7 33. Bf3 Rxg2 34. Bxd5 Rg7 0-1

As usual you can find this game in my ICC library. Game number 28.