1 d4 d6; 2 c4 e5!?
Superficially, after the obvious response 3 de de; 4 Qxd8+ Kxd8 Black has lost the right to castle and consequently White appears to be doing well.
Results with the line told a different story though, Chessbase reveals (upto 1998) that Black was scoring a staggering 71% with the line, and the best White could hope for was the occasional grovelling draw. Since '98, White's results, if anything, have been even worse.
A deeper study of the position reveals the reasons behind this:
- Black's apparently weak king is under little threat with the Queen's off the board, e.g. after c7-c6 it can be safely tucked away on c7, and in some cases it's central position can even be an asset in quick transitions to a ending
- The c4 pawn restricts the scope of White's light squared bishop, Black can latch onto it as an easy target e.g. with ... Be6. Shifting the pawn is a time consuming task that leaves other weaknesses in it's wake
- Black has easy development with ... Nd7, ... Bc5 ideas, swapping the dark squared bishops and going into good knight / good bishop vs. bad bishop endings
- Any moves of the e-pawn (to e3 or e4) give Black potential invasion squares for a knight on either d3 or d4
- Black can play moves like ... f6 securing a strong central pawn on e5
It might not be terminal yet, but it's certainly no fun to play as White, and the opening definitely deserves a better name than "Queen's Pawn Game with ... d6". Suggestions for a name to roger AT 21thoughts DOT com.
So, should we give up playing d4 as White?
Well, perhaps not, Burgess and Pedersen recommend meeting 1 d4 d6; with 2 e4 transposing into a Pirc.
If this is not your cup of tea, my recommendation is not to take the pawn after 1 d4 d6; 2 c4 e5, but instead to play 3 Nf3 transposing into a line from the English opening (Chessbase reveals White scores a healthy 54% with this line!).
Some sample games:
Alexandru Crisan vs. Bartlomiej Macieja, Vidmar Memorial 2001 (a typical Black victory after 3 de de; 4 Qxd8+ Kxd8)
Jeroen Piket vs. Ilya Smirin, European Teams Championship 2001 (handling the White pieces after 3 Nf3 e4; 4 Ng5)