The Slav is a very popular reply for the black player against 1.d4. There are many lines and set-ups possible for both players, but in this article, we are going to focus on the Semi-Slav and one very common structure that appears in this variation – the a7-b6-c5-d5 pawn formation. First of all, the Semi-Slav is characterized by black’s decision of keeping the light-squared bishop on c8 and playing …e6.
This bishop is most commonly developed later to b7 and the main ruptures black has are …e5 and …c5. As with any typical ruptures, they cannot be executed automatically. Black has to wait for the right moment and make sure his pieces are well coordinated before taking any central actions. The resulting positions are usually balanced, with chances for both sides. The structure we will study in this article is reached after black’s …c5.
As far as white is concerned, he also has a few setups to choose from against the Semi-Slav, but in this article, we are going to focus on the most common one, where white develops his light-squared bishop via e2 or d3. The typical rupture in his case is e4, which should also be executed with care and at the right moment.
Mareco, S – Suarez Gomez, J, Santiago de Compostela 2018
In the diagrammed position the decision of trading the bishop on b7 comes easy. The d5 pawn will be under attack and, with the black queen on e7, the queenside can also be a target. In the game black immediately went wrong and gave white a winning position, but it is clear that white has the better game and his position is easy to improve.
Rodshtein, M – Kantarji, P, ISR Ch, 2019
This game is a great example of flexibility; in this position, white continued with Bf5, but didn’t commit the bishop to this diagonal. He continued with Na4, putting pressure on c5 and then switched to the idea of Ba6 by returning to d3. Black didn’t allow this, so he continued to improve his pieces and at the right moment captured on c5 and left black with a bad version of the hanging pawns.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the examples above and have gotten an idea on how to deal with this structure. Thank you for reading!