The Semi-Slav Defense is one of the most popular defenses for black against the Queen’s Gambit line from white. This opening is seen at all levels of chess competition and is often seen as one of the most sound defenses at top level play.

1.d4 d5
2.c4 c6
3.Nf3 Nf6
4.Nc3 e6

Black spends most of the time in the Semi-Slav developing pawns and pieces to control the light squares in the middle of the board. It differs from the Slav opening in that the light square bishop on c8 is not developed before the pawn structure is formed with e6. This allows more time for black to build up a solid pawn structure around the d5 pawn, but at the cost of slower development from his light square bishop.

White typically has two main ideas that he can play for. The first is to develop his dark square bishop on c1 before he closes the pawn structure with e3. The second is to immediately play e3, protecting the pawn on c4, while delaying the development of the dark square bishop. Depending on how white responds many times will determine much of the dynamics in the game.

Black will typically counter attack on the queen side of the board and try to make a push for the center control of the light squares. If black can equalize, he should be better off in the end game with a much better pawn structure.

For those players looking to play sound, fundamental chess, this is a must have defense against the Queen’s Gambit opening.

Watch the video below to watch more detailed explanations of the opening, multiple variations, and extended lines.

Famous Games using the Semi Slav Defense

Aronian vs Anand, 2007

Kramnik vs Anand, 1997

Topalov vs Vallejo-Pons, 2006

Carlsen vs A Groenn, 2005

Mamedyarov vs Ivanchuk, 2007