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1. 15 Jul '13 22:18
Hello.

A week ago I asked a question about the difference between 3. Nf3 and 3. Nc3 in the Queen's Gambit Declined. And today, after another week of exploration of the Queen's Gambit, I have another question. This time, it's regarding the Queen's Gambit Accepted : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4.
What is the difference between playing 3. Nf3 and 3. e3 ?

But this time I've made some searchs on my own, I've looked in an opening database/explorer, and here's what I found.
Firstly, 3. Nf3 is three times more popular than 3. e3.
But, 3. e3 scores much better for white than 3. Nf3 :
- With 3. Nf3, white won 38.5% of the time and lost 24.2% of the time
- With 3. e3, white won 41.9% of the time and lost 21.9% of the time.
A big difference.

Also, here is what black plays against 3. Nf3 :
3... Nf6 : 67%
3... a6 : 15%
3... c5 : 7%
3... e6 : 5%

And here is what black plays against 3. e3 :
3... Nf6 : 51%
3... e5 : 18%
3... e6 : 14%
3... c5 : 6%

So it seems that 3. e3 allows black to play 3... e5 instead of 3... Nf6 (in the 3. e3 line, if you add up the 51% of 3... Nf6 and the 18% of 3... e5, you get 69%, which is very close to the 67% of 3... Nf6 in the 3. Nf3 line).
When I found out this, I thought 3. Nf3 was simply better.

But, after looking more closely, I saw that after 3. e3 Nf6 4. Bxc4, black plays this :
4... e6 : 84%
4... a6 : 5%
While after 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3, black plays this :
4... e6 : 65%
4... Bg4 : 19%
(again, if you add up the 65% and the 19%, you get 84% )
So it seems that 3. Nf3 allows black to play this 4... Bg4 move.
While after 3. e3 Nf6 4. Bxc4 a6 5. Nf3 black can't play 5... Bg4?? because of the tactical shot 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Ne5+ Ke8 8. Nxg4.

So, if what I found out is correct, it seems that I should just play 3. Nf3 if I want to avoid 3... e5, or play 3. e3 if I want to avoid 4... Bg4.
But I have still no idea which of those two move to choose... Should I just go with 3. e3 simply because white strangely scores much better with it than with 3. Nf3 ? And do each of those two moves allow white to avoid other things that I didn't see?

2. 16 Jul '13 00:12 / 4 edits
I have never played 3.e3 or 3.Nf3, I have always played 3.e4.

Play the queens gambit like a real gambit.

3.  RJHinds
The Near Genius
16 Jul '13 05:43 / 6 edits
Originally posted by Marc Benford
Hello.

A week ago I asked a question about the difference between 3. Nf3 and 3. Nc3 in the Queen's Gambit Declined. And today, after another week of exploration of the Queen's Gambit, I have another question. This time, it's regarding the Queen's Gambit Accepted : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4.
What is the difference between playing 3. Nf3 and 3. e3 ?

But w white to avoid other things that I didn't see?

The line 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 opens up lines to recover the gambit pawn immediately with 4.Bxc4. It also allows for a pitfall for Black if Black tries to hang on to the pawn as shown in the thread: The QGA Trap.

I believe you are right that the purpose of playing 3.Nf3 is to prevent 3...e5, Which usually results in an Isolated queen pawn for White, but gives compensation to White by quick and easy development and a pawn in the center.

The line 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bg4 is the Janowski-Larsen Variation.

However, in the line 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 Nf6 4.Bxc4 the move 4...Bg4? is not good.
White replies with 5.Qb3 with a double attack on b7 and f7.

It is probably just a matter of style on which one you choose, as greenpawn34 has said, because the top GMs play both.

The Instructor
4. 16 Jul '13 09:08 / 1 edit
You could always play some games on here and find out?