There are many mainstream openings for club players that everyone studies and plays. There are also some openings which are considered a little off-beat, and most players hope they won’t have to face them.
One such opening is the Queen’s Gambit Accepted. Many club players hate playing against it with the white pieces.
And that’s exactly what makes the Queen’s Gambit Accepted one of the best openings for club players. It can be used as a surprise weapon, backed up by a sound, safe plan.
The Queen’s Gambit Accepted starts with the following moves:
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4
Most chess players prefer not to take this pawn and stick to closed systems. By taking this pawn black temporarily gives up the center. This is not a true gambit because it is possible for white to win this pawn back with the simple 3.Qa4+. However, this is not a very accurate nor necessary move. That’s why it is rarely played among grandmasters.
The most common response is:
3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3
White develops the knight to f3, the most logical square for the knight. It protects d4 and prepares short-side castling. Black responds with a symmetrical development of his knight, preventing the d4 pawn from capturing space with a d4-d5 push. The e3 move is aimed at recapturing the c-pawn. White wants to recapture on c4 with the bishop to level the material on the board.
4…e6 5.Bxc4 c5 6.0-0
Black cannot save the c-pawn but he can immediately challenge white’s central presence. Black’s idea is to take control of the important d5 square and to execute a quick c7-c5 push.
You can see black defends the d5 square 3 times: with the queen, knight and e6 pawn. White only attacks it twice, making d4-d5 not possible. Thus, white accepts the consequences of dealing with an isolated queen’s pawn and simply castles.
White has an isolated pawn, but this is not a weakness, because it can easily be exchanged off. This is the type of position that elite GMs prefer not to play with black as white gets activity and can capitalize on their advantages.
However, this may be one of the best openings for club players because it avoids the main lines and requires a good understanding of the position from the white side. Those are things that can easily confuse many players under 2200 and give you a decisive edge.
Black’s plan is to simply develop the knight to c6, bishop to e7, possibly play a6 and quickly castle short. He will have a good position with many options and active play. White, on the other hand, may try to play moves like Nc3, Be6 and Re1. At the right time he will want to push d4-d5, getting rid of the isolated pawn and generating some activity. This position is very playable for black and if white is not careful he may end up defending the isolated d-pawn from constant threats.
The isolated pawn concept is very important for players of all levels but especially for club players. When playing with or against an isolated pawn you should always keep in mind that it is usually a weakness in the endgame. Thus, exchanging pieces would benefit black.
If we assume a hypothetical position with no pieces on the board, black definitely has an edge because of the weakness on d4 which would require constant protection. Black pawn’s structure is more solid with just two pawn islands. White has 3 pawn islands because of the isolated d-pawn; he will have a hard time defending in this endgame.
At the same time, an isolated pawn may be an asset in some middlegame positions as it can be pushed forward to generate activity and powerful attacks. Black must always remember that it’s important to blockade the isolated pawn with a knight and to anticipate possible pawn pushes.
Overall, isolated pawn positions are great for club players who wish to play aggressive chess and fight for a win with both colors. Therefore, the Queen’s Gambit Accepted is an excellent choice, and perhaps one of the best openings for club players. Give it a try and you won’t regret it!