The Queen’s Gambit Exchange Variation is a highly flexible opening used by GMs of both positional and tactical styles.White is able to control to a large degree the kinds of positions that result. Black often keeps his bishop on e7 and aims for normal development. He is happy that the exchange of pawns has freed his problem bishop. These positions comeup again and again. Black tries for an eventual c5 but by the time he plays h6, Nd7, and all the preparatory moves white is virtually assured a fine game. White will expand in the center slowly or play against the weak c6 pawn. However,what happens when black pins the queen’s knight in Nimzo-Indian fashion?
What’s important here is not so much the move order as it’s possible that the additional moves h6 and Bh4 may have been played. Perhaps the exchange on d5 hasn’t even happened yet. The salient feature of the position is always black’s pinning of the knight that attacks d5, trying to relieve pressure on the weak pawn and play c5 in one move. The extra move c7-c6 is often necessary to lend the d5 pawn, “the sick buffalo”, extra protection.
Here is the new move I like.7. Qa4! It’s not quite new, since the text we’re following dates back to 1927, but it’s new to me! It offers white a third, distinct plan in addition to his slow push in the center (f3,e4) or the minority attack (not likely after white is forced to play cxb).
Notice that the black queen’s knight can’t come to c6 in this instance. Black will be obliged to cede the bishop pair with the exchange for the knight. Notice that d5 is virtually unprotected and that this permits white a few tactical shots. If the game continued 7…c5 8 dxc black cannot simply recapture with the bishop due to his d5 weakness. Here isthe remaining text of Capablanca-Spielman from 1927.
…Bxc3+ 8. bxc3 O-O 9. e3 c5 10. Bd3 c4 11. Bc2 Qe7 12. O-O a6 13. Rfe1 Qe6 14. Nd2 b5 15. Qa5 Ne4 16. Nxe4 dxe4
17. a4 Qd5 18. axb5 Qxg5 19. Bxe4 Rb8 20. bxa6 Rb5 21. Qc7 Nb6 22. a7 Bh3 23. Reb1 Rxb1+ 24. Rxb1 f5 25. Bf3 f4 26. exf4 1-0