Queen Pawn Delayed c4

The idea to delay the “2.c4” move is to avoid some of the Indian Defences, such as the Benko or Grunfeld. A common way to do so is: 2.Nf3.

Diagram: Queen Pawn Delayed c4 (against Nf6)

The 2.Nf3 move is useful because it is a developing move that helps in most opening lines, but is not too committal as to White’s chosen setup. For example, g3 would be more committing of White (to the Catalan).

Indian Openings Avoided

Anti-Indian with Nf3: This 2.Nf3 line, a delayed c4 line, successfully avoids these Black openings:

Indian Variations Available for Black

But the 2.Nf3 line does not avoid these Indian defences where Black can wait for White to play c4 and then get the desired setup:

But there are some downsides to delaying 2.c4 for White as well. For example, the strongest lines in the Benoni are the “Four Pawns Attack Benoni” (with f4), but Nf3 blocks the "f’ pawn and prevents this variation for White, which is to Black’s advantage if choosing the Benoni: see Delayed Benoni.

Avoiding c4 Completely

Some of these Black openings allow White to avoid playing c4 at all. This is often to White’s (slight) advantage, as the c4 square can be used for a Knight or Bishop, and the pawn structure is more fluid. Some openings where White can choose whether or not to play c4 include:

Other White Openings Without c4

White has other options than 2.Nf3 to avoid playing c4. There are also other ways for White to play the Queen Pawn Openings that completely avoid playing c4 at all: