cxd5 Variation

Baltic Defense Guide

Baltic Defense Guide

The Baltic Defense is a chess opening for black that arises after the moves 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Bf5. The Baltic is an offbeat choice for black that looks to disrupt white’s preparation from the get-go. This is a good chess opening to surprise your opponent and make them play in unknown territory. Although the Baltic Defense (also known as Garu Defense and Sahovic Defense) is not played a lot at master level, it is a good choice for club players and rapid and blitz time controls.

Baltic Defense moves

Main Ideas in the Baltic Defense

In the Baltic Defense, black quickly “solves” the typical issue with the light-squared bishop by developing it in the second move.

In one of the variations of the Baltic, black actually captures the knight on b1 early, ruining white’s typical idea of playing the knight to c3.

Let’s now see some of the move orders and variations in the Baltic Defense.

Most Played Moves in the Baltic Defense

The following are the most played moves in the Baltic Defense at master level.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 Bf5

Baltic Defense moves

The Baltic Defense has been played.

3.cxd5 Bxb1

Baltic Defense moves

White goes for the exchange variation, taking on c5, and black immediately takes on b1, in a very uncommon exchange for queen pawn openings.

4.Qa4 c6

Baltic Defense moves

Before re-capturing on b1, white delivers a quick check, taking advantage of the good position of their d5 pawn.

5.Rxb1 Qxd5

Baltic Defense moves

Both queens are out in the first moves of the game, breaking the golden rule of not moving the queen until the rest of the pieces have been developed.

6.Nf3 Nd7

Baltic Defense moves

Natural piece development for both sides.

7.a3 Ngf6

Baltic Defense moves

White wants to avoid the black queen taking on a2.

8.Qc2 e5

Baltic Defense moves

Black strikes in the center and opens up the diagonal for their dark-squared bishop.

3.cxd5 Variation

As we saw in the previous section, 3.cxd5 is the most common response by white to the Baltic Defense.

A different line here is 5.dxc6 instead of 5.Rxb1.

Baltic Defense moves

Play usually continues 5…Nxc6 6.Rxb1 e5.

Baltic Defense moves

3.Nc3 Variation

The 3.Nc3 variation is not as recommended as 3.cxd5 but still works.

Baltic Defense moves

Play usually continues with 3…e6 4.Nf3 c6 5.Qb3 Qb6.

Baltic Defense moves

Model Games

Other Chess Articles

Chigorin Defense Guide

Marshall Defense Guide


Games on Database: 2008
Last Played: Feb 2024
Overall score:
45.2% 30.6% 24.3%

Played frequently by:

Gerhard Lorscheid 5 games
Igor A Novikov 5 games
Ramon Jose Abril 4 games
Igors Rausis 56 games
Vladimir P Malaniuk 25 games
Michael Ehrke 25 games

Possible continuations:

3. Nc3  1041
41.8 % 29.4 % 28.8 %
3. cxd5  663
51.7 % 32.3 % 16 %
3. Nf3  162
40.1 % 33.3 % 26.5 %
3. Qb3  96
50 % 29.2 % 20.8 %
3. e3  29
27.6 % 27.6 % 44.8 %
3. Qa4+  7
57.1 % 14.3 % 28.6 %
3. Bf4  4
25 % 50 % 25 %
3. Bg5  3
33.3 % 33.3 % 33.3 %
3. g3  2
50 % 50 %