The Catalan is a chess opening where White adopts a mixture of the Queen's Gambit and R ti Opening: White plays d4 and c4 and fianchettoes the white bishop on g2. A common opening sequence is 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2, though the opening can arise from a large number of move orders (see transposition). ECO codes E01-E09 are for the Catalan.
Black has two main approaches to choose between: in the Open Catalan he plays ...dxc4 and can either try to hold onto the pawn with ...b5 or give it back for extra time to free his game. In the Closed Catalan, Black does not capture on c4; his game can be somewhat cramped for a while, but is quite solid.
With its use by Vladimir Kramnik, the Catalan has recently gained a good deal of attention by high-level GMs. Another of its most notable uses at the top level came when both Garry Kasparov and Viktor Korchnoi played it in their Candidates Semifinal match (part of the process to determine who would challenge world champion Anatoly Karpov for the title) in London in 1983: five games of the eleven-game match were Catalans. Also, it was played three times by Vladimir Kramnik in the World Chess Championship 2006 and four times by Viswanathan Anand in the World Chess Championship 2010; in both instances the opponent was Veselin Topalov, and in each instance White scored two more points than Black.
The Catalan derives its name from Catalonia a region of Spain after tournament organisers at the 1929 Barcelona tournament asked Savielly Tartakower to create a new variation in homage to the area's chess history. It had been played a few times before Tartakower's usage in the tournament, however: R ti-Leonhardt, Berlin 1928, for instance, transposed into an Open Catalan.
In 2004, Ruben Felgaer won a tournament celebrating the 75th anniversary of Barcelona 1929 and the birth of the Catalan Opening, ahead of Grandmasters Viktor Korchnoi, Mihail Marin, Lluis Comas and Viktor Moskalenko and International Master Manel Granados. Each game in the tournament, which was also held in Barcelona, began with the moves 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.g3 Nf6.
Open Catalan, Classical Line
The Catalan, Open, Classical line begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 dxc4 5.Nf3 Be7. White trades the pawn for a lead in development. Without the d5 pawn, White's kingside bishop stymies Black's queenside development. The Open Catalan line here has been a favorite of Anatoly Karpov and Efim Geller as Black and Oleg Romanishin with the white pieces. Usually, white will recover the pawn with Qc2 and a4, Ne5, or Qa4. In order to hold the pawn, Black will have to seriously weaken the queenside with ...a6 and ...b5. The ECO code is E05.
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