|The Catalan is a chess opening which can be considered to be White adopting a mixture of the Queen´s Gambit and Réti Opening: White plays d4 and c4 and fianchettos his bishop on g2. A common opening sequence (in algebraic notation) is 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2, though the opening can arise from a large number of move-orders.|
Black has two main approaches to choose between: in the Open Catalan he plays ...dxc4 and can either try to hold onto the pawn with ...b5 or give it back for extra time to free his game. In the Closed Catalan, Black does not capture on c4; his game can be somewhat cramped for a while, but is quite solid.
Few of the world´s top players have played the Catalan with any regularity, though many have dabbled with it. One of its most notable uses at the top level came when both Garry Kasparov and Viktor Korchnoi played it in their Candidates Semifinal match (part of the process to determine who would challenge world champion Anatoly Karpov for the title) in London in 1983: five games of the eleven-game match were Catalans.
The Catalan derives its name from the Catalonia region of Spain, after tournament organizers at the 1929 Barcelona tournament asked Savielly Tartakower to create a new variation in homage to the area´s chess history. In 1008, a Catalonian nobleman, Count Ermengol of Urgell, specified in his will that his chess pieces were to be left to the Convent of St. Giles near Nîmes, France: the earliest recorded mention of chess in European history. It had been played a few times before Tartakower´s usage in the tournament, however: Réti-Leonhardt, Berlin 1928, for instance, transposed into an Open Catalan.
In 2004, Ruben Felgaer won a tournament celebrating the 75th anniversary of Barcelona 1929 and the birth of the Catalan Opening, ahead of Grandmasters Viktor Korchnoi, Mihail Marin, Lluis Comas and Viktor Moskalenko and International Master Manel Granados. Each game in the tournament, which was also held in Barcelona, began with the moves 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.g3 Nf6.