Catalan Opening Workshop – Pawn Structures, Tactical Ideas, Endgames, and Theoretical Trends
This course on the Catalan Opening (1.Nf3, 2.c4, 3.g3) includes 7 hours of video presented by 4 experienced chess Grandmasters, and a crazy PGN database that includes 60 files!
You will find the following lectures:
- Typical Pawn Structures – GM Petar Arnaudov
- Typical Attacking and Tactical Ideas – GM Mihail Marin
- Modern Theoretical Trends – GM Boris Avrukh
- Master the Catalan Endgames – GM Grigor Grigorov
What can you expect from each lesson?
Typical Pawn Structures – GM Petar Arnaudov
GM Petar Arnaudov presents the fundamental pawn structures every Catalan player should know.
The Catalan is very popular nowadays and the theory is changing every day.
There are two main concepts:
- Try to reach a risk-free position, where your light-squared bishop will put pressure on Black’s queenside.
- Sacrifice a pawn via b2-b3 to obtain long-term compensation.
GM Arnaudov presents different examples and different pawn structures.
The most important structure is The Open Center. Open Center is the structure where both “c” and “d” pawns are exchanged.
The positions are symmetrical so the piece activity becomes really important.
The rule here is that If Black failed to neutralize or exchange the light-squared bishops, then White is always better.
The PGN version of this lecture consists of 10 model games and 4 test positions.
Typical Attacking and Tactical Ideas – GM Mihail Marin
GM Mihail Marin is known to be a big expert in the Catalan Opening.
In this lecture, Marin deals with the attacking and tactical ideas in the Catalan Opening.
For the purposes of his conceptual explanation, Marin takes as an example one of the main theoretical positions, which arise after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2.
The main philosophy behind the Catalan Opening is based on White’s control over the long light diagonal.
If Black maintains the tension in the center, the g2-bishop will keep d5 under latent pressure, inhibiting the freeing …c7-c5 and exert (direct or indirect) control over e4, making e2-e4 a promising plan in White’s fight for space and initiative.
In the systems based on …dxc4, the bishop’s range increases, causing Black certain difficulties with completing his queenside development and sustaining a central break with d4-d5.
If White was interested only in the long light diagonal, Black’s defense would not be that hard to organize.
However, it frequently happens that White chooses the kingside as a target.
Abstractly, this is possible when Black employs excessive means in his direct fight against the g2-bishop, weakening the defense of the king’s residence.
Most typically, Black’s vulnerable squares are g7 and h6 and White can use his other bishop and the king’s knight to put them under pressure or even sacrifice them on those squares.
Sometimes, the light-squared bishop can make a sudden switch, too, by going to e4 or d5 to target h7 or f7, respectively.
The article consists of 10 model games.
Modern Theoretical Trends – GM Boris Avrukh
In his lecture, GM Avrukh examines the latest theoretical developments in the Catalan Opening.
During his survey, besides following the recent practice, he suggests a number of possible novelties and improvements as well.
Boris makes a theoretical overview of both White and Black. After studying this lecture, you will get better insights on which lines are playable and which are not.
Master the Catalan Endgames – GM Grigor Grigorov
When you study an opening, you should know how to play the arising endgame positions.
This is what this lecture of GM Grigorov is all about.
The understanding of the Catalan endgames can improve your general chess understanding. There are two reasons which make this type of endgame so fundamental.
- The Catalan g2-bishop. The g2-bishop is the most important asset for every Catalan player. Due to the pressure on the long diagonal, very often Black struggles to complete the development of his queenside. After learning how to play with such a bishop, you will feel more comfortable in all the openings which evolve into a fianchetto.
- The pawn structure. The other element which makes the Catalan a strategic cornerstone is the pawn structure. This symmetrical pawn structure, with “c” and “d” file open, arises out of many openings, especially after 1.d4. For example, we have this structure in Queen’s Gambit Declined, Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Nimzo-Indian Defence, Queen’s Indian Defence, Gruenfeld Defence, Reti Opening, and many other variations. By studying this pawn structure, you will improve your play in symmetrical positions and will get a better understanding of your entire opening repertoire.