Win Against 1.d4 with The Noteboom Variation – IM Mark Diesen

Mark DiesenWant a surprise chess opening for Black that will confuse and trick your opponent? Try the Noteboom!

In this video, IM Mark Diesen explains how to playa great opening system for Black – The Noteboom variation of the Slav defense. This chess opening features a solid setup with the Black pawn on d5 supported by pawns on c6 and e6. Mark starts off with how to get into a Noteboom through both the Slav move order and the Queen’s Gambit Declined.

The move that really separates the Noteboom from other Slav and Queen’s Gambit variations is the surprising move …dxc4. Why does Black give up his most advanced, and well-supported, pawn when it’s clear White will be able to win the pawn back a few moves later?

Well, it turns out that Black can make it very difficult – and time-consuming – for White to win that Noteboom pawn back. And this gives Black time to get his other ideas rolling.

In the GM game analyzed by Mark here, we see the main line: 5.e3 b5! 6.a4 Bb4 (pinning the knight) 7.Bd2 a5 8.axb5 Bxc3 9.Bxc3 cxb5 10.b3 Bb7 11.bxc4 b4. Black has the advantage on the queenside and will play there, while White tries to make something of his central advantage.

The resulting middlegame is dynamic and it’s easy for an unprepared player (your opponent!) to get distracted and start playing on either of the flanks when they should be focused on the center. It’s very tempting to start a kingside attack when the opponent is on the queenside but attempting this will fail – the attack just takes too long!

In this Noteboom game, Black is happy to sacrifice his h7 pawn (with check!) in order to secure the c5 square for his knight. Watch out for Black’s …a4 move – highly instructive.


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