Chess : Noteboom variation (D31)

book.gif The Noteboom variation (also called Abrahams variation) of the Queen's Gambit starts with the moves 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 dxc4. Refer to Tim Harding's 'Kibitzer Column' (July 1996) for historical background information on the opening, including an interesting discussion about the name of this opening: "Abrahams" or "Noteboom". After a decline in popularity in the eighties, the Noteboom is back at all levels. "Play the Noteboom" (published in 1996 by Cadogan Chess; ISBN 1 85744 108 7; 128 pages) written by Mark van der Werf and Teun van der Vorm deals with all ins and outs of the Noteboom-variation. Reviews of the book can be found here: This page will cover some new developments in the Noteboom that where discovered after the publication of the book.

Overview of developments

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.a4 Bb4 6.e3 b5 7.Bd2 a5 8.axb5 Bxc3 9.Bxc3 cxb5 10.b3 Bb7 11.bxc4 11..b4 12.Bb2 Nf6 13.Bd3 0-0 14.0-0 Nbd7 15.Qc2 15..Qc7 16.e4 e5 17.Rfe1 Rfe8 etc.

The next game gives the current status on the 11.d5 line, discussed on p.60 of the book.

Gelfand-Vaisser,Cap D'Agde(1) 1996

Noteboom defense (D31)

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 c6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bb4 6.e3 b5 7.Bd2 a5 8.axb5 Bxc3 9.Bxc3 cxb5 10.b3 Bb7 11.d5 Nf6 12.bxc4 b4 13.Bxf6 Qxf6 14.Qa4+ Nd7 15.Nd4 e5 16.Nb3 Ke7 17.Be2!

The verdict that 17.Qb5? Ba6 18.Qxa5 Rfb8 19.d6+ Ke8! is very good for Black has not changed.

17..Rhc8 18.0-0

18.Rd1 Nc5 19.Nxc5 Rxc5 20.0-0 transposes to the game. However 18.0-0 is the usual move order, as after 18.Rd1 Black might try 18..Qd6 19.0-0 Nb6 20.Qa1 Nxc4 21.Bxc4 Rxc4 22.Nxa5 Rc3 23.Nxb7 Rxa1 24.Nxd6 Rxd1 25.Nf5 Kf6 26.Rd1 Kxf5 and this endgame is a draw (Gelfand).
18.Bg4 Qd6! 19.Nxa5 Rxa5! 20.Qxa5 Ra8 21.Qxa8 Bxa8 22.Rxa8 Qg6! 23.Bxd7 Qb1+ with equal chances in Shulman-V.Ivanov,Moscow 1995 [Informator 65/390].

18..Nc5 19.Nxc5 Rxc5 20.Rad1 Kf8!

20..Qd6?! 21.f4 (21.Qc2! g6 22.f4 with advantage) Kf8 22.Qa1 e4 23.Qe5 Qxe5 24.fxe5 Shulman-San Segundo,Pamplona 1995 [Informator 65/391] and now 25..a4! is very unclear
20..Ra6? 21.Qc2 a4 22.f4 b3 23.Qe4! with a very strong initiative for White in Gelfand-Piket,Amsterdam 1996 [NIC Yearbook 40, p.115] and [Informator 66/342]

21.f4 Rd8

Also 21..e4!? comes into consideration, for example 22.Rd4 Re8 23.f5 Bc8 24.Bg4 h5 25.Bh3 Ba6 and Black was a little better in Madsen-Johannesssen,Alta 1996.

22.Qa1 Re8!? 23.Qb1 Kg8 24.Bd3 h6 25.fxe5 Qxe5 26.Rf3 Ba6 27.Qa2 Qc3! 28.Qf2 Bxc4 29.Bxc4 Qxc4 30.Rxf7 Rxd5

Black has an extra pawn, but White's pieces are very active and White managed to draw the game.We give the further moves without comment.

31.Rf1 Rde5 32.Ra7 b3 33.h4 a4 34.Rd1 Qg4 35.Rdd7 Rxe3 36.Qf7+ Kh8 37.Qxg7+ Qxg7 38.Rxg7 R3e7 39.Rgxe7 Rxe7 40.Rxe7 b2 41.Rb7 a3 42.Kh2 a2 43.Rxb2 a1Q 44.Rf2 Kg7 45.g3 Kg6 46.Rf4 Qb2+ 47.Kg1 Qe2 48.Kh1 Qe3 49.Kg2 Qe6 50.Kh2 Qd7 51.Kg2 Kh5 52.Kh2 Qd2+ 53.Kg1 Qe2 54.Kh1 Qb5 55.Kg2 Qd7 56.Kh2 Qe6 57.Kg2 Qe2+ 58.Kg1 Qd3 59.Kg2 Qd5+ 60.Kg1 Kg6 61.Kh2 Qd7 62.Kg2 1/2-1/2

The following game is of great theoretical importance and is a refinement to p.67 of the book.

Bareev-Sveshnikov,Vienna open(4) 1996

Noteboom defense (D31)

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.a4 Bb4 6.e3 b5 7.Bd2 a5 8.axb5 Bxc3 9.Bxc3 cxb5 10.b3 Bb7 11.bxc4 b4 12.Bb2 Nf6 13.Bd3 0-0 14.0-0 Nbd7 15.Re1!? Qc7?!

Now considered dubious, but at the time of writing of "Play the Noteboom" regarded as the best reply. Better is 15..Re8! in accordance to the rule "black rooks opposite the white rooks". For example:

  • 16.e4 e5 17.dxe5 (17.Qc2 Qc7 transposing to the Noteboom main line; 17.Nxe5?! Nxe5 18.dxe5 Nd7 19.f4 Nc5 20.Bc2 Qxd1 21.Raxd1 a4 and Black won quickly in Aronov-Kobalija,Guarapaava Wch-jr 1995) Ng4 18.Bf1 Qe7 19.Rc1 Ndxe5 20.Nxe5 Nxe5 21.f4 Rad8 21.Qh5 Qc5+! 22.Kh1 Nd3 24.Qxc5 Nxc5 with a huge advantage, occurred in Scholz-Sermier,Biel open 1997.
  • 16.Bc2 Qc7 17. e4 Qxc4 18. Bd3 Qc7 19. e5 Bxf3 20. Qxf3 Nd5 21. Re4 Nf8! (White has insufficient compensation for the pawn) 22. Bb5 Rec8 23. h4 Qb6 24. Ba4 Nc3 25. Rg4 Nxa4 26. h5 g6 27. Rxa4 Qc6 28. Qxc6 Rxc6 29. d5 Rc2 0-1 Zakharevich-Neverov, St. Peterburg 1994.
  • 16.c5! Qc7 (16..Bc6 17.Bc2 Qb8?! 18.e4 h6 19.Nd2 Qa7 20.Ba4! with advantage in Prie-Van der Vorm,Andorra open 1997) 17.e4 h6 18.Qd2?! Bc6 19.Bc2 Reb8 20.Qd3 a4 21.d5 exd5 22.exd5 Bxd5 23.Re7 Qxc5 24.Rxd7 Be4 25.Qxe4 Nxe4 26.Bxe4 Rd8 27.Rxa4 Rc8 28.Rxd8+ Rxd8 29.Ra1 f5 30.Bb7 Qa7! 0-1 in Pelletier-Van der Werf, Cannes open 1997.

  • Also playable seems 15..h6 16.e4 e5 as in the game Delemarre-Kuijf, Wijk aan Zee 1997.

    16.e4 e5 17.c5!

    A strong novelty. The old line 17.Nxe5?! Nxe5 18.dxe5 Nd7 was analyzed as good for Black in "Play the Noteboom" p.67. A recent example is 19.Qh5 Nc5 20.Bf1 a4 21.Rad1 a3 22.Bc1 Rfe8 23.f4 b3 24.Be3 b2 25.Bd4 Red8 26.e6 Rxd4 27 exf7+ Qxf7 28.Qxf7+ Kxf7 29.Rxd4 a2 0-1 Vidic-Tregubov, Ljubljana open 1994.


    Alternatives are worse:
    17..Ba6 18.Rc1 Bxd3 19.Qxd3 Rfd8 20.c6 Nf8 21.Nxe5 with a huge advantage in Huzman-Reefat, Yerevan ol 1996.
    17..Rfe8 18.Rc1 Ba6 19.c6 Nf8 20.Bxa6 Rxa6 21.d5 Ng6 22.d6 1-0 Avrukh-Marques, Cala Galdana 1996.

    18. Rc1 Ne5

    18..Rac8 19. c6! Bxc6

  • 20.e5 Nd5 21.Nxd4 Nxe5 22.Nxc6 Nc3 23.Bxc3 Nxd3 24.Ne7+ Qxe7 25.Rxe7 Nxc1 26.Bb2 Na2 27.Qa4 Nc1 28.h3 Nd3 29.Bd4 Rb8 30.Qxa5 Rfd8 31.Qf5 1-0 Riemersma-Kroeze, Enschede 1996.
  • 20.Nxd4 Qb6 21.e5! Nd5 22.Qg4 (22.Nc6! Rxc6 23.Be4! wins) Nc3 23.Nf5 g6 24.Ne7 Kg7 25.Nxc8 Rxc8 and White is about to win the game Vegh-Dao Thien Hai,Budapest 1996 [Informator 68/359].
  • 19. c6! Ba6

    White has a strong initiative after 19..Nxc6 20.e5.

    20. Nxe5

    20. Bxa6! was given by Huzman in New in Chess magazine 1996/6 as very good for White. This was confirmed in the game Avrukh-Suhl,Groningen open 1996 that continued 20..Rxa6 21. Nxd4 Rd8 22. Qe2 Qb6 23. Nf5 Ng6 24. e5 Nf4 25. Qc4 N6d5 26. Bd4 1-0. After the text move Black is able to hold the position.

    20..Qxe5 21.Bxa6 Rxa6 22.Qd3 Raa8 23.Bxd4 Qe6 24.Qb5?!

    24.f4! Rfc8 25.f5 Qe8 26.e5 Nd5 27.Qe4 Ne7 28.e6 and White still has the initiative in Gligoric-Tregubov, Beograd 1996 [Informator 68/360].

    24..Rfc8 25.Bxf6!? gxf6!? 26.e5 Rab8 27.Qxa5 Rxc6 28.exf6 Qxf6 29.Rxc6 Qxc6 30.Qg5+ Qg6 31.Qf4 Rb6 32.h4 b3 33.h5 Qf6 34.Re8+ Kg7 35.Qg3+ Kh6 36.Qe3+ Kg7 37.Qg3+ Kh6 38.Qe3+ Kg7 39.Qg3 1/2-1/2

    Refer to Informator 67/486 or New in Chess magazine 1996/6,p.21 for extensive analysis of this game by respectively Bareev and Huzman.

    Click here to E-mail your Noteboom suggestions to the authors. Relevant contributions will be published on this page.

    Last update: 18 June 1998 by Teun van der Vorm.