Semi-Tarrasch Defense

The Semi-Tarrasch Defense is a chess opening characterized by the following moves:

Semi-Tarrasch Defense
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
e6 black pawn
f6 black knight
c5 black pawn
d5 black pawn
c4 white pawn
d4 white pawn
c3 white knight
f3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
h1 white rook
Moves1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 c5
Named afterSiegbert Tarrasch
ParentQueen's Gambit Declined
1. d4 d5
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. Nf3 c5

The Semi-Tarrasch is a variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined (ECO codes D40 through D42).

General conceptsEdit

Unlike the regular Tarrasch, in the Semi-Tarrasch Defense Black does not accept an isolated pawn, since he intends to recapture on d5 with the knight (as after 5.cxd5, 5...exd5 has long been known to be dubious after 6.Bg5), but he cedes a spatial advantage to White. The intended recapture with the f6-knight prevents Black from seamlessly transposing to the Semi-Tarrasch if White has played 4.Bg5.

After 4...c5, White usually plays 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e3 or 6.e4, which leads to different types of middlegame play and has attracted the interest of strong players with both colors since the early twentieth century.

Symmetrical VariationEdit

In this line, White forgoes the fianchetto, with its direct play against d5, opting to keep central tension for the moment by playing 5.e3, after which 5...Nc6 is the normal continuation. From this position, White may choose to inflict the isolated pawn on Black, accept the weakness himself in return for active piece play, or play 6.a3, with a view to dxc5, followed by b4 and Bb2, aiming for positions in which the extra tempo will come in useful if Black keeps the symmetry; thus, 6...Ne4, once chosen by Bobby Fischer in his Candidates Match with Tigran Petrosian in 1971, gives a different turn.

Symmetrical Variation has ECO code D40.

See alsoEdit


  • Colins, Sam (2005), Understanding the Chess Openings, Gambit Publications, ISBN 1-904600-28-X
  • de Firmian, Nick (2008), Modern Chess Openings (15th ed.), McKay, ISBN 978-0-8129-3682-7