Michal Krasenkow: The Triangle Setup - a review

2/27/2017 – What to do against 1.d4? Michal Krasenkow recommends the "Triangle Setup": Black puts his pawns on c6, d5 and e6 - a solid and flexible system that offers Black still a lot of scope to play for a win. This is what FM Markus Hochgräfe was looking for and why he had a careful look at Krasenkov's DVD.

Michal Krasenkow: "The Triangle Setup - A complete defense against 1.d4"

A review by FM Markus Hochgräfe

Springtime begins. But for me the choice between enjoying nature and listening to birds under a blue sky or learning a new defense against 1.d4 was easy: I chose the latter. For a long time I have been an advocate of solid Slav systems and for a long time I also have been looking for an aggressive alternative after 1.d4 d5 for Black, much more so because I do not like to give White the option to go for the Exchange variation of the Slav.

So, Michal Krasenkow’s DVD about “The Triangle setup”, in which Black opts for a set-up with 1…d5, 2…e6, 3… c6 against 1.d4 and related openings offers such a possibility.

White usually has the choice of allowing the Noteboom Variation, playing the sharp Marshall gambit or allowing Black to play an (often) improved version of the Stonewall. In most cases Black can grab a pawn and reach unbalanced positions.

I particularly liked Krasenkow’s treatment of the Noteboom Variation. It is the longest section on the DVD. Krasenkow explains the ideas of the variation by presenting several of his own games. Krasenkow’s presentation is good, not too fast, not too slow, and I learned a lot about the strategic ideas of this opening. It is in fact very important to know and to understand the strategic ideas in the Noteboom because it is impossible to remember all side-lines and sub-side lines of the line – at least for me. Knowing the ideas of this line helps to survive in this theoretical jungle. According to current general Black is okay. In fact, more than okay – the position is highly unbalanced and Black can easily play for a win.

The Stonewall that arises after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c6 4.e3 f5 also looks good for Black. Here play is more strategic. But all pieces remain on the board and the pawn structure is quite fluid. I can only repeat what I said about the Noteboom: Black is okay and can easily play for a win.

The sideline with Qc2 after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c6 4.Qc2 is quite common on amateur level. It is important to remember that Black should play 4…dxc4 immediately to prevent 4…e6 5.Nbd2 dxc4?! 6.Nxc4! After 4…dx4 Black will play 5… e6, 6… b5, 7… Bb7 against more or less everything. This variation is quite solid for White but Black is fine if he keeps in mind that developing the queenside first has highest priority.

However, the Stonewall position arising after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e3 f5 (or 4…Bd6 and 5…f5) still causes me some headaches. In contrast to the Stonewall with 3.Nf3 White can here easily play 5.f4 which leads to a totally blocked and symmetrical position or White can play the sharper and more dangerous 5.g4. After 4…f5 White has both options, while the alternative 4…Bd6 5.Nf3 f5 allows 6.Ne5 and 7.f4. Here, the bishop would be better placed on e7 to be able to exchange the White knight on e5 with …Nb8. My own solution would be to deviate from Krasenkow’s Stonewall recommendation with 4…Nf6 5.Nf3 a6!?, which leads to a nice sideline of the Meran. And if you enter the Meran with the Triangle move order you prevent your opponent from playing the Exchange Variation of the Slav.

Frank Marshall - a specialist for dangerous gambits

In my opinion the critical test of the whole Triangle system is the Marshall gambit 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4. Here, Krasenkow recommends the very risky line 4…dxe4 5.Nxe4 Bb4 6.Bd2 Qxd4 7. Bxb4 Qxe4 8. Be2 Qxg2?! I checked his recommendation with an engine and I have to admit that White seems to have (much) more than sufficient compensation for the sacrificed material. In fact, so far 8…Qxg2 has not been played very often, obviously for a reason. Usually, Krasenkow recommends the main lines and I do not know why he here deviates from this principle. In current practice 8…Na6 and the relatively new 8…a5 seem to be the most reliable options. White keeps a slight edge but the extra pawn also gives Black an opportunity to play for a win. A critical test of the 8…a5-variation is a piece sacrifice that occurred in Miron-Ninov, 2015.


White has a dangerous initiative but my engines could not find a way to give White an advantage. 16.Nf5 Qf6 17. Qc7 0-0 is the alternative to the game, but this neither yields an advantage for White.


This DVD provides you with an aggressive repertoire against 1.d4/c4/Nf3. Krasenkow’s explanations of the strategic plans in the Noteboom will improve your chess. I also like the speed of Krasenkow’s presentation, not too fast and not too slow. The material is suitable for players from 1800 to grandmaster level. The only problem is Krasenkow’s recommendation how to counter the Marshall gambit which seems to be too dangerous. I think here you still must do some work of your own. However, in this line 8…a5 scores quite well for Black. All in all I would give the DVD a ‘2’.

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Pieces in Motion Pieces in Motion 2/28/2017 06:20
Interesting lines and well worth working on.