Would you consider c5 in this position?

I'm working through the book "What it takes to become chess master" by Andrew Soltis and this position was in one of the end-of-chapter quizzes. The question is stated as such: "In this position, the routine continuations were 1. Bf4 and 1. Be3. Is there anything better?" The answer is 1. c5 "severely limiting" the play of the bishop on b2. Frankly, this move disgusts me. I would never even consider this move because it's so ugly. The hole on d5 is obnoxious and so is the backwards pawn on d4. Also, I do not see how a master would deduce that the bishop's play on b2 is the most important facet in the position. Needless to say, I failed this quiz question. :-P

Yes, c5! is a thematic continuation in the slav type structure where White has pawns on c4 and d4 and Black has pawns on c6 and e6. Often the main break that Black is looking to get in (just to equalize) is c5 himself, so that the light squared bishop (his only bad piece) gets active.

Thus c5! is a counterintuitive move that does more than just prevent Black's priority #1 plan. In this particular position, it helps to control the d6 square, which aided by Bf4 and Nd6 will result in a very difficult position for Black to play.

Note that the d5 square is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things (even if Black puts a Knight there) because control over the d6 and e5 squares will prove more important, and also Black will never be able to target the backward d4 pawn.

I would consider it definitively but I probably wouldn't play it due to the reasons you gave. But, black cannot really take advantage of backwards pawn on d4 and if black places a knight on d5 then the d4 pawn really isn't vulnerable to attacks by more than one piece. The move c5 does really limit black's piece play. c5 grabs more space, hinders the light-squared bishop, and also hinders the dark-squared bishop. So, to conclude, the pros outweigh the cons.

c5 is very counter-intuitive

I think you mean Bb7. The hole on d6 and the bishop on b7 that will never play compensates the hole on d5. I think you heard before that you must antecipate your opponent's next move and try to stop it. The only plan for black that i can see is to play c6-c5 so if you do that before him, you are gaining space advantage and restricting the black's pieces. Try to read more books! This concept will show up eventually in your head. :)

Its interesting, its basically a question of whether or not d4 can be defended easily and whos minor pieces will be better.

The upside would be that whites light squared bishop is clearly better. I think if you could take the knights and dark squared bishops off the board it would be much easier to see that c5 is a good move.

It looks like white will always have the oppertunity to trade pieces on d5 with either the knight or g2 bishop, if black ever tries to exploit it.

The annoying thing is that it actually looks like a fairly basic positional question that we see all the time in games and that we should be able to say something about. Sadly it looks like greater calculating skills than ours would be needed to make a judgement about c5 :L

Best of luck though, I'll be sticking to gambits myself :')

c5 is definitely a very strong idea. however i wonder if you just HAVE to play it immediately, we might be a bit too trusting of authority here?

black actually cannot play c5 so soon, so you can make some more constructive moves until black actually threatens to play c5, and then play it yourself.
the immediate c5 for black runs into both dxc5 (with a discovered attack on the queen) and Nxf6 (winning the loose b7 bishop) and it doesn't seem so easy to arrange at all after, say, Bf4 (which also makes the plan of putting things on d6 stronger)

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