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This month it's the Grünfeld Defence that comes to our attention once again.

Download PGN of April ’18 Daring Defences games

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Grünfeld 4.Bg5 Bg7 5.Bxf6 Bxf6 6.cxd5 c5 [D80]

In Lorparizangeneh, S - Darini, P Black punted the fashionable two pawn gambit with 6...c5:

Lorparizangeneh seemed well prepared and was able to maintain an extra pawn throughout the struggle. He nurtured his advantage, which he converted in the endgame. Exactly the scenario that those playing Black want to avoid!

Looking for an improvement, I've decided that instead of 11...e6, Black should opt for either 11...Na6 (as already played by some high-level players) or 11...a5, but, in the case of the latter, getting the timing right with ...a4 and ...a3 is the secret to obtaining enough counterplay.

Grünfeld 4.Qb3 [D81]

In Xi Yinglun - Gholami, A I'm not quite sure what to make of Black's novelty on move ten, 10...Nc6:

Was this an intended move order ploy, or just a slip of the memory? In any case, it worked well here as Black obtained a more than comfortable opening. As I can't see anything wrong with it, it could be that Gholami's 10...Nc6 is more palatable than the alternatives 10...Bb7 and 10...b4, neither of which quite equalize.

Later, the struggle gradually turned in White's favour who really should have won the rook endgame.

Grünfeld Exchange 5.Bd2 [D85]

A sneaky move order from Anton Korobov involving 4.Bd2 occurred in Korobov, A - Maghsoodloo, P although the game soon transposed to a more standard Exchange Variation with Bd2. Later, the plan of pushing the h-pawn is known in such positions, but Maghsoodloo's 12...h6 wasn't. Anyway, it was met in dramatic fashion with 13.h5 g5 14.Nxg5!:

A powerful blow that probably should have been met by 14...b5, when I don't think that Black is doing too badly. Instead, in the game, he was always clearly worse after 14...c5?!.

Grünfeld Exchange Nf3 & Be3, Adorjan's 9.Nd2 [D85]

White ventured the complex 9.Nd2 and obtained chances for the initiative in Bosiocic, Mari - Dubov, Danii:

However, he became over-optimistic and underestimated the danger to his own centrally-placed king. Instead of 12.e5 (ceding the d5-square too readily), I suggest that anyone interested in this line should investigate 12.h4, or 12.0-0 followed by f2-f4.

In the game, Dubov developed in a more harmonious way than his opponent, and then hit back with a piece sacrifice when White's position duly fell apart.

Grünfeld Exchange 7 Bc4, 10...Bg4 11.f3 Bd7 12.Rb1 Qc7 [D87]

Mindlin, A - Inarkiev, E illustrates a case of the stronger player keeping the tension and so creating a series of difficult decisions for the lesser opponent who eventually blundered. In a way, the choice of the opening nicely set-up this scenario:

White has a wide choice, but despite this fact, there isn't anything that is overly-worrisome for Black. The featured game then followed some recent e-mail encounters, but 17.f4 didn't work out too well, as it weakened White's centre. Instead 17.Bg5 and 17.d5 were preferred by some NOTB (not-over-the-board!?) players, who were in both cases able to retain a semblance of a pull, due to White retaining more space. In face-to-face encounters Black has, as a rule, been doing rather well with 10...Bg4 11.f3 Bd7.

Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4 c6 [D90]

Although several games of late in ChessPub have featured the stodgy 'h4-Exchange Variation' i.e. when White meets 5...c6 with 6.cxd5 cxd5 7.Bf4, this wasn't the case here. Indeed, Li Yankai - Krysa, L was a short, sharp struggle that seems to teach us that pawn grabbing by White is fraught with danger. The more combative 6.Bg5 was met by an equally ambitious novelty 6...Bg4, and then all hell broke loose after 7.Qb3 Nbd7 8.Qxb7:

White's approach was asking a great deal (probably too much!) of his under-developed position, and so the moral of this tale is that greed combined with h2-h4 doesn't pay!

Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bg5 Ne4 6.Bf4 [D91]

In these lines, dropping the bishop back to f4, when pushed by 5...Ne4 is less well-known than 6.Bh4, but its popularity is increasing of late. In Santos Ruiz, M - Ponkratov, P White didn't regain his queenside pawn, but he kept plugging away and his superior development gave Black a number of difficulties, even deep into the game. The set-up with a bishop on f4 and a queen on c1, probing against the h6-pawn restrained Black from castling and induced the potentially weakening ...g6-g5. A gritty performance by the lower-rated player which shows that 6.Bf4 has some bite.

Grünfeld Russian 7.e4 Nc6 8.Be2 e5 gambit [D97]

A highly theoretical struggle occurred in Navara, D - Vachier-Lagrave, M and ended in Black's favour. I can only guess how much of this was preparation, but the game leaves a strong impression about Black's possibilities in this line. Although Navara's 15.Bd3 is rare, it didn't phase the French GM who innovated after 15...a5 16.f3 with 16...b4:

MVL's piece sacrifice for long-term pressure against White's king, that was hopelessly stranded in the centre, was top class. A game that suggests that the gambit with 8...e5 and 9...Nd4 is still thriving.

Grünfeld Russian 7.e4 Na6 Prins Variation [D97]

After following a well-trodden opening path, both players in Hillarp Persson, T - Chatelbashev, B, played one slightly offbeat move and then reached an almost unknown position:

Of course, in the Prins, transpositions abound and, a few natural moves later, the game had reverted back to something known (for those with a long memory!) from the seventies. Overall, the opening panned out in White's favour, and I think that 16...f6 would have been a better try than 16...Qb4. Despite this observation, I suspect that the mainstream moves 11...Re8 and 11...Bf5 are more trustworthy than Chatalbashev's 11...Qb6.

The endgame was a hard fight with Boris Chatelbashev impressing me with his defensive technique, particularly with bare King and Rook against King, Rook and Bishop.

Grünfeld Russian 7...Be6 [D97]

In Vetoshko, V - Ftacnik, L the experienced Slovakian GM introduced a novelty:

His 8...b6!? makes a change from the usual 8...Bd7 which has already been played on several occasions. However, the downside of his 'slower' approach was that ...b6, followed by ...a5, and a later ...c5 left some holes on the queenside which Vetoshko calmly exploited. As there was no counter-balance on the wing, the pawn wedge on d6 became a real thorn in Black's midriff.

I think most players won't be impressed with Ftacnik's novelty and will stick with 8...Bd7 in future.

Till next month, Glenn Flear

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