In this video, IM Valeri Lilov looks at the Catalan opening and the strategic aims of each side. This includes things like where to place each piece, which side of the board to attack and which exchanges benefit you.
Armed with this knowledge, you can be confident in finding strong moves and making progress. IM Lilov is ready to show you how to navigate the opening phase with the calm confidence that comes from knowing what you’re doing.
The Catalan opening is a sort of mix between the Queen’s Gambit and a Reti Opening and can arise from a number of move orders. White basically plays d4 and c4 and then fianchettoes the white bishop on g2. It’s considered to be a chess opening that is a safe way for White to get a small advantage.
The Catalan came to the top level when Garry Kasparov and Viktor Korchnoi played it in their Candidates Semifinal match in London in 1983. More recently, Vladimir Kramnik has used Catalan – he played the opening three times in the World Chess Championship match of 2006. Viswanathan Anand also rolled the opening out during the 2010 world title match, winning two games with it!
The Catalan Opening
In the Catalan, White avoids several attacking ideas by Black and instead focuses on development. The bishop on g2 usually frustrates Black as it is a strong piece – so much so that it is often called the Catalan Bishop.
When playing the English Opening, for example, and Black responds with e6 or c6, the Catalan is a good, flexible opening. 1. c4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 – see the position on the left.
The whole idea for White is to get a good control of the center, supported by a fianchettoed bishop on g2. Later, White can look to expand the central control.
Let’s take a look at when Black captures with 4…dxc4. There are two main options for White, either 5. Bg2, or the move IM Lilov prefers, 5. Qa4+.
It is a simple line for White to play. After the check, White continues with easy development, regains the lost pawn and gets good central control.
5…Nbd7 6. Bg2 a6 7. Qxc4 Bd7 8. Qc2, see the position on the right. We see that White is ready to push e4, gaining a good center.
This is just one line of the Catalan – be sure to watch the video from IM Valeri Lilov where he covers more of the strategies and ideas in the opening, as well as taking a look at Black’s plans.
The Ideas Behind Chess Openings
IM Valeri Lilov has set out to solve one of the biggest problems that club players face: how to improve their openings.
In his 16-hour course “Ideas Behind the Openings”, Lilov teaches openings based on 3 factors:
1. Popularity – it’s no good knowing how to play an opening that never appears on the board!
2. Winning chances – we’re not playing for a draw here. Our openings must give us a way to create dynamic opportunities.
3. A systematic approach – each opening should fit a clearly identifiable strategy. There will be exceptions we need to remember but this approach saves a huge amount of time – and reduces the risk of critical errors – compared to rote memorization. It also teaches you far more about chess!
Regardless of whether you’re a 1.e4 or 1.d4 player, IM Lilov is ready to show you how to navigate the opening phase with the calm confidence that comes from knowing what you’re doing. Click here to get Ideas Behind the Openings with 35% off.
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