Chess Openings: Slav Defense – When to Avoid the Schallopp Variation


The Schallopp Variation of the Slav Defense is an extremely effective weapon for black against 1. d4. Black aims for a very solid pawn structure early on while deploying his light-squared bishop to f5 – outside of the pawn chain and on an active diagonal. However the Schallopp Variation of the Slav Defense retains one major drawback – white can obtain a dangerous initiative by playing a flexible move order that exploits the fact that with an early …Bf5 black is giving up protection of his b7 pawn. While black certainly has adequate defensive resources at his disposal, it is important to understand the types of positions that result after an early cxd5 and Qb3 by white (see diagram at top right). In the below video I will analyzes black´s best recommended response to this dangerous line by white, as well as a few alternatives for black to avoid this difficult variation by playing an early …a6 and transposing to the Chameleon Variation of the Slav Defense.

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  1. Good video, I like the reasoning. Very helpful.

  2. yes! although i think he usually goes more with the classical slav set-up or the chameleon variation with an early …a6 – Cheers, Will

  3. yes – that early Qb3 line can mess you up!

  4. thanks – glad to hear you liked the video. Cheers, Will

  5. Hi Will, yes I think ..a6 is Aronian's pet system. He has defeated way too many Grandmasters with least by getting a good advantage out of the opening, (as Kramnik did with the Grunfeld or Berlin Defence and as Radjabov does with the King's Indian.) Btw, I just saw Andrew Martin's new vid commenting on Gelfand being crushed by Simon Williams, with his Pet line in the Dutch defence. Some GM's have produced many novelties in their pet systems, very difficult to face them.

  6. I always kinda thought the scallop variation was better avoided, but its nice to know there are things you can do. I think I'll avoid it till I can study it properly though.

  7. Will, I'm not sure I'm following your thought.
    Your suggesting us not to play the Bf5 line, although it seems in the exchange variation, if the queen trade happens and you regain the pawn later as black, white just has the usual tiny edge. Why not play it and even hope for that line? No queens, better chance to draw?

  8. As black, I typically lead off with c6 and hope for some kind of Caro, but occasionally white won't cooperate and it transposes to this. I've been going off of instinct and what little I know about the Caro, but definitely need to experiment with these lines…

  9. At 8:00 the original idea was to defend the pawn at b7 with Ra7, which looks very strange, but it's difficult to evict the rook from this spot

  10. Yes! I had prepared to cover a bit of this variation with Ra7 but totally forgot while making the video. Thanks for pointing that out – the Ra7 idea is pretty popular in this line for black to defend the b7 pawn. It is definitely a strong idea – but can be dangerous in the early middlegame as sometimes the rook gets stuck and shut out of play. Cheers, Will

  11. but it permanently weakens the a4-e8 diagonal and especially the c6 square

  12. there are immediate tactical problems on the a4-e8 diagonal and a long-term weakness on c6

  13. We´re looking forward to seeing your video covering the Ra7 variation.

  14. At 8:30, 8.a4 b4! is an interesting pawn sacrifice (Tregubov – Vallejo Pons, France 2004) mentioned in Sakaev's recent book on the Slav. I think 6…b5 is the correct path (also recommended by Bologan recently), as 6…Ra7 seems a bit passive in this situation. This is a nice video outlining the drawbacks of this move order as it is a common mistake at club level. Usually I encounter passive play as White, so the gambit continuation is instructive for showing how to salvage a difficult position.

  15. a6 is known as the Chebanenko variation. I have never seen this name in a book about the Slav.

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