Daring Defences for July 2004
I quite like the word 'dynamic' to describe many of the openings covered in my sector. The Grünfeld for instance is better described as 'dynamic' rather than 'daring'. However the Englund Gambit certainly deserves 'daring' (some would say 'desperate') as it's adjective. In fact it was only by looking through the Forum that I realised that I hadn't covered anything on this mythical gambit in my two years at the helm, so it's time to set the record straight.
GM Glenn Flear
So Game One represents a brief resumé of how I see the relevant theory on the Englund. My conclusion is that in the following position after 1 d4 e5 2 dxe5 Nc6 3 Nf3 Qe7:
that White's best is probably 4 Qd5! rather than the more popular 4 Bf4. Black may even be able to obtain a playable game against the latter but I don't think much of his compensation after the slightly arrogant 4 Qd5.
The Gambit shouldn't really work against sensible defence as White hasn't created any potential weaknesses in his own camp. Compare this with the Budapest where 2 c2-c4 can be thought of as 'weakening' the a5-e1 diagonal and the d4-square. In the Englund Gambit White has an extra tempo and can avoid giving away any key-squares.
The English Defence has proved to be a sound enough way of getting a tense middle-game. However Game Two illustrates that it requires careful handling. As I recently put in one of my own wins with Black I felt I had to put in a recent loss... to show how things can go wrong!
Game Three features a head-to-head clash between two leading theoretical experts in the Benko. Epishin plays his usual Rb1 system but Vuckovic is equal to it and finds a route to a satisfactory game. Playing with ...Nf6-e8 seems to be Black's best anti-Rb1 method at present.
A couple of examples of some heavy manoeuvring:
In Game 4 Gurevich manages to diffuse the pressure but has to call on all his experience not to be pushed into passivity. The pawn structure is common in those Leningrads where White has exchanged off his e-pawn for Black's f-pawn, typically following an early e2-e4.
In Game 5 a blocked centre enabled Black to get his kingside advance going even though a draw looked on the cards for most of the game. Black's f, g and h-pawns gave him more options, a consequence of White having played fxe5 early on.
The intention to build a Saemisch-centre with 3 f3 leads to some serious blood-letting in the two main games from this sharp anti-Grünfeld line.
My main conclusions are as follows: After 3...d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 e4 Nb6 6 Nc3 Bg7 7 Be3 0-0 8 Qd2 Nc6 9 0-0-0:
Black's 9...f5 (Game Seven) looks shaky whereas 9...e5 (Game Six) is unclear. The novelty 9...Qd6 is interesting, as is 3...Nc6 which leads to a more positional game, and in both cases Black gets away from heavy theory. These are touched upon in the notes to these two D70 games.
In Game 7 White's attack proved to be too strong here after 15 Nf3!
The Grünfeld Defence
Twenty-Four moves of theory in Game Eight before all hell breaks loose. What would you play as White in the following position with four moves to make the time control?
White's nuance (yes, on move 25!) needs a closer look as he did ultimately achieve a winning position, but Black had enough resources along the way in my opinion. Nevertheless, a remarkable game!
In Game Nine Nielsen yet again surprises with his choice against the Grünfeld. Ganguly failed to open the centre and came under attack but then defended well. The fast FIDE time limit was probably responsible for some surprising choices with both players playing very riskily.
In Game 10 Van Wely repeats the Qa4+-b3 manoeuvre that he played against Svidler last February (I covered this game in the April update). Again complications followed, but although L'Ami's novelty on move eight (8...a5) is notable, the game will be remembered for Van Wely's terrible blunder at the end. Theoretically 8...a5 looks suspicious but generates practical chances and loads of fun!
Don't forget to keep the questions rolling in, especially if there's a line that you would like clarifying.