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This month I will be examining some recent games in both the anti-Grünfeld with 3.f3, which is still very popular, and the Grünfeld Defence.
In the Grünfeld, I've noticed a tendency to try out some slightly unusual move orders, so look out for these!

Download PGN of April '15 Daring Defences games

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Anti-Grünfeld 3 f3 [D70]

In Game One Li Chao-b repeated a line that he had already played a few years back. Here he improved and obtained a perfectly satisfactory middlegame. Indeed his opponent (Le Quang Liem) became frustrated and sacrificed a pawn to generate an attack that just wasn't on.

So the diagram's 11...a5 looks like a reasonable alternative to 11...Be6.

Another Chinese grandmaster, Wei Yi, was in action in Game Two and repeated his own handling of one of the main lines. A close examination suggests that White might be able to keep a tiny edge with precise play, but this is probably true of most openings!

In the game Sasikiran seemed to have an advantage, but he allowed Wei Yi a remarkable resource which allowed Black to turn the tables. The endgame is instructive.

In Game Three the following position arose after 15...e6:

White has three moves that deserve serious consideration: 16.Bg5, 16.h5, and the move played in the game 16.Bf4.

The game segment Berczes-Sarkar, examined in the notes, shows that 16.Bg5 has some bite, which is frankly also true of 16.h5. In both cases Black has only a fine line to safety.

After Shimanov's 16.Bf4, then Rodshtein's 16...Qe7 was okay if, following 17.h5 exd5 18.hxg6, he had chosen 18...hxg6!. Instead, after 18...fxg6, White was better, but a little later in wild complications Black even missed a chance to win.

Another decent option is 16...Rd7!?.

Black might be able to avoid these complications (earlier on) with the less-well known 14...Ne5, as mentioned in the notes.

In Game Four Timofeev decided to sacrifice a pawn as early as move four:

The main advantage of this idea is its surprise value. However, Vallejo Pons wasn't impressed and held onto his pawn, consolidated his centre, and then generated a strong attack. Analysis suggests that White was always in control.

My feeling is that few strong grandmasters will be trying this gambit in future.

Grünfeld Defence 4.Bg5 Bg7 5 Bxf6 Bxf6 [D80]

Another Li Chao-b victory features in Game Five. This time he tries a slightly unusual interpretation of a fashionable double-pawn sacrifice:

Black soon regains one pawn, and then has the bishop pair and active pieces, which seem in practise to compensate for the remaining pawn deficit.

In the game White ran out of positive ideas, and Black's initiative became more important, even after simplification. Despite this, I feel that Dao Thien Hai should have held the endgame.

Exchange Variation 7 Nf3 c5 8 h3 [D85]

The Vietnamese number two, Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, has recently employed the early h3 with success. Black has new problems to solve although there are a few historic games in this line. In Game Six Laylo played too passively and soon got into difficulty, whereas I believe that he should take the bull by the horns and capture on a2:

Check out 15...Qxa2 in the notes.

Exchange Variation 7 Nf3 0-0 8 Be2 [D85]

In Game Seven Mamedyarov castled before playing ...c5, which may not be such a good idea. Black has generally struggled in these lines, which look like inferior versions of the '...b6 versus Rb1' variation. Khairullin kept control and his strong d-pawn turned out to be too much of a handful for Black.

All these difficulties can be avoided if Black sticks to 7...c5.

Exchange Variation 8 Be3 Nc6 9.Rc1 [D85]

Black correctly played 7...c5 in Game Eight, but then the follow-up doesn't seem quite right. The most trustworthy answer to 8.Be3 is undoubtedly 8...Qa5, when play often leads to the oft-repeated queenless middlegame. Historically, it seems, many games have involved 8...Nc6 9.Rc1, but Black hasn't done particularly well, probably as the threat of d4-d5 is quite strong:

Inarkiev tried to go his own way, but it all looked a bit shaky.

Exchange Variation 8 Rb1 0-0 9 Be2 Nc6, 11 Qc2 [D85]

I previously hadn't seen the move made by L'Ami on move eleven in Game Nine, 11.Qc2:

This choice had the advantage of surprise value and avoiding some heavy theory, but doesn't lead to any objective advantage. There is probably more than one way to handle Black's position.

Melkumyan even became quite optimistic (with Black) and sacrificed a pawn, but clearly must have overlooked something. He then had a long defensive task, a pawn down, and eventually lost.

Exchange Variation 5 Bd2 [D85]

Game Ten also featured a rather calm opening variation. The line with h2-h3 being solid, but not particularly challenging:

Grandelius was soon tempted to play a little bit too actively instead of settling for safe equality. Moiseenko took the opportunity to grab a pawn which then led to him obtaining two rooks for a queen. White was close to winning at one point, but somehow Grandelius wriggled out for a draw.

Till next month, Glenn Flear

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