DDG Declined

After 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.c4, Black can also decline the sacrifice. Many players hesitate to accept a gambit they have not met before; besides, there are solid alternatives for Black to transpose to the QGD. In any case, White has no difficulties in the DDG Declined. Only about 10 % of my DDGs have been declined, but lately especially 3...c6 has been popular.
  • 3...c6 (Semi-Slav)
  • 3...c5 (Tarrasch Defence)
  • 3...Nf6
  • 3...dxc4 (Queen's Gambit Accepted)

3...c6 (Semi-Slav)

3...c6 is a typical way to avoid risks, an attempt to transpose to a solid and well-known opening. Incidentally, 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.c4 is called the Caro-Kann DDG. Both e6 and c6 being played, thus combining the two DDG openings, this variation could be called the Double(-edged) DDG.

4.Nc3 transposes to the Semi-Slav, Marshall Gambit: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4.

A) 4...Bb4 5.Qb3! is nowadays my favorite variation, covered in Heikkinen - Kaiju, 2000.

5.a3 is the old favorite.


5.f3 provokes Black to take the e4-pawn. 5...Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 dxe4 7.Qc2 exf3 8.Nxf3 Nf6 9.Bd3 O-O 10.O-O Re8 11.Bg5 Nbd7 12.Ne5 Nxe5 13.dxe5 Qb6+ 14.Kh1 Ng4 15.Bxh7+ Kh8 (15...Kf8 16.Qd1) 16.Qe2 g6 17.Qxg4 Kxh7 18.Qh4+ Kg8 19.Bf6 1-0, Heikkinen - Davis, Zone 1996.

B) 4...dxe4 5.f3 is called the Semi-Slav, Gunderam Gambit. Eric Schiller gives the following assessment in Unorthodox Openings (1998): "Another Diemerish Gambit, but this time White has a pawn at c4 and Black has a bad bishop, which makes this somewhat promising. Yet it seems to be remarkably easy to equalize as Black."

5.Nxe4 is part of the established QGD theory, e.g., 5...Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Qxd4 7.Bxb4 Qxe4+ 8.Be2 Na6 (8...c5) 9.Bf8! [Pedersen].

C) 4...Nf6 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.Nf3 transposes to the Alekhine Variation of the QGD: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.Nf3 c6 6.e4.

5...Be7 6.f3!? Nxe4 7.fxe4 Bxg5 8.Nf3 dxe4 9.Nxe4 Bf6 10.g4 g6 11.g5 Bg7 12.h4 h5 13.Bh3 Qa5+ 14.Kf2 Nd7 15.Nd6+, 1-0 in 32, Heikkinen - fregat, Zone 1996.

3...c5 (Tarrasch Defence)

The meanest way to decline a gambit is to play counter-gambit. Therefore, 3...c5!? is psychologically worthy of consideration. This eccentric position is similar to the Austrian Defence 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c5!?.

Very open games are reached after 4.cxd5 exd5 5.dxc5 Bxc5 (5...d4 6.Bc4 Qa5+ 7.Bd2 Qxc5 8.Qb3 Qc7 9.Ne2 Bc5 10.O-O Nc6 11.Na3 with slight advantage for White [Schwarz]) 6.exd5 Nf6

5.Nc3 would transpose to the Tarrasch Defence, Marshall Gambit: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.e4. After 5...dxe4, one great line is 6.Bc4 (6.d5 transposes)

5...Nf6 6.Bg5 transposes to 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 c5 (Dutch-Peruvian Gambit) 5.cxd5 exd5 6.e4!?, which would leave White with a clear edge [Pedersen].

4...cxd4 could transpose to the Hennig-Schara Gambit: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4. One classic is 5.Qxd4 Nf6 6.e4 exd5 7.exd5 Be6 8.Bb5+ Bd7 9.d6 Nc6 10.Qd3 Be6 11.Bf4 a6 12.Bxc6+ bxc6 13.Nf3 Qb6 14.O-O Rd8 15.Rfe1 Nh5 16.Rad1 Qb7 17.Be5 Nf6 18.Bxf6 Rxd6 19.Nd4 gxf6 20.Ne4 c5 21.Nxd6+ Bxd6 22.Nxe6 1-0, Marshall - Howard, 1904.

The Nimzo-Indian Defence can transpose to this variation: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.f3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Be7 5.Nc3 d5 6.e4 c5 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Bxd4 dxe4 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.Qxd8+ Bxd8 11.Nxe4 Ba5+, 0-1 in 31, Tyvijärvi - Sarsa, 1991.


3...Nf6 was suggested by the Chessmaster 3000, when modified to play as an attacker.

A) 4.Nc3 Nxe4 (4...Bb4 5.a3 Be7 transposes to the Nimzo-Indian Defence; e.g., 6.e5 Ng8 7.Qg4 g6 8.h4 Bd7 9.Nf3 Nc6 10.h5 Na5 11.Bd3 f5 12.exf6 Nxf6 13.Bxg6+ hxg6 14.Qxg6+ Kf8 15.Bh6+ Rxh6 16.Qxh6+ Kg8 17.Rh3 Bf8 18.Rg3+ Kf7 19.Ne5+ Ke7 20.Rg7+ 1-0, Benda - Broun, 1952) 5.Nxe4 dxe4 6.f3 Nc6 7.d5 exd5 8.cxd5 Bb4+ 9.Bd2 e3 10.Bxb4 Nxb4 11.Qa4+ Nc6 12.O-O-O Qg5 13.f4 1-0, Gedult - Sachs, 1950. The BDG may result in similar positions:

B) 4.e5 is a rude attack, but hardly the best idea. 4...Nfd7 5.f4 could transpose to 1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.Be3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 b6?! 6.Nf3 c5 7.c4, Cody - Diener, Compuserve 1992. 4...Ne4

C) 4.f3 Nxe4?! (4...dxe4 transposes) 5.fxe4 Qh4+ 6.Kd2 Qxe4 (or maybe 6...Qf2+), but how to continue attack. Besides, White has the option 6.g3 Qxe4+ 7.Qe2 Qxh1, aiming to trap Black's queen. Note similarity with the Damiano's Defence: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f6? 3.Nxe5 fxe5 4.Qh5+ g6 5.Qxe5+ Qe7 6.Qxh8 Nf6 7.d3 Kf7 8.Bg5.

D) 4.exd5 exd5 5.Nc3 is the French Defence Exchange Variation.

3...dxc4 (Queen's Gambit Accepted)

3...dxc4 is simply the Queen's Gambit Accepted (QGA), which is analysed more deeply than any other gambit.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 dxc4 (not a good way of accepting the gambit, as e4 can follow with good effect; White gets a much freer game [Spielmann]) 4.e4! c5 5.Nf3 cxd4 6.Nxd4 a6 7.Bxc4 Bd7 8.O-O Nc6 9.Nf3! Qc7 10.Qe2 Bd6 11.Rd1 Nge7 12.Be3 Ne5 13.Nxe5 Bxe5 14.g3 Bxc3 15.bxc3 Ng6 16.Bb3 O-O 17.Bd4 b5? 18.Qe3 Bc6 19.h4! Qb7 20.h5 Ne7 21.Bxg7! Kxg7 22.Qg5+ Ng6 23.h6+ 1-0, Spielmann - Grünfeld, 1929 (:-).