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Anti-Grünfeld 3 f3, 8...e5, 10 Rd1 [D70]
In Game One two young Dutch stars try out one of the theoretical lines that has already been covered in the Daring Defences column. Bok's slow approach with 12...Nf6, 13...Bd7, and 14...Rc8 doesn't quite work in the game:
Van Kampen grabbed the black a-pawn and eventually obtained a pawn-up endgame. I think that I've found where White missed a win, check out the notes to see if you agree!
The archives are worth checking for a detailed look at the critical pawn sacrifice 12...e4 that, at the time of writing, seems to be Black's best.
Neo-Grünfeld 8 e3, 9...a5 [D76]
Jakovenko's win over Sutovsky in Game Two is notable in that White didn't need to do a great deal and yet won. Clearly the Israeli GM underestimated the danger to his sidelined knight and was ruthlessly punished, but at what point did he fundamentally go wrong?
I think that Jakovenko's prophylactic 11.Nd2!? has a future, and should be compared to the analogous position where White has a rook on e1 and Black a rook on e8.
It turns out that White's flexibility isn't that easy to cope with. I would be tempted by 12...f5!?, but it's a subjective choice.
Grünfeld 4 Bf4, 7 dxc4 [D82]
Riazantsev introduces a novelty on move 20 in Game Three, 20.Qb5. It's the latest word in this highly theoretical line:
The queen on the fifth rank has certain advantages over the previously-known 20.Qb3, and it certainly created some practical problems here. However, Volokitin saved the game by heading for a fortress in the rook and bishop versus queen pseudo-endgame.
Even this nominal disadvantage could perhaps have been avoided on move 24.
Exchange Variation 8 Rb1, 10...Qa5+, 12...b6 [D85]
White won both of the featured games after 12...b6:
In Game Four, Gharamian-Beshukov, the most popular move 13.Qc1 led to a repeat of a recent Aronian-Svidler encounter until Black varied on move 17 with 17...Nc6. Was this intentional or did Black forget to improve his queen first? In either case, it looks shaky and Gharamian took the advantage and went on to win. There were definitely a couple of Black improvements possible along the way, but Svidler's 17...Qc2! 18.Qe2 Nc6! still looks best.
In Game Five Smirnov played 13.Bb5 against Chatelbashev and won with a strong attack on the kingside. The main advantage of his move is that it had surprise value and Black didn't find the best way to complete development. The plan with 17...Bf5 seems erroneous, so it's here that an improvement is required. I have suggested a couple of ideas in the notes.
Exchange Variation 7 Nf3 c5 8 Be3 [D85]
The tussle between Vladimir Kramnik and Alexander Grischuk in Game 6 eventually turned in Black's favour. Kramnik's pawn tsunami looked highly dangerous and he may have been close to winning at one point, but a couple of errors saw Grischuk turning the tables.
As to the opening, the position after 13.Be2 hadn't been seen at a high level before:
Grischuk's reaction with 13...Bxf3!? 14.Bxf3 Bd4 was a highly unusual one, but seems sound.
Exchange Variation 5 Bd2 Nb6 [D85/D90]
In a recent rapid tournament in Rosmalen, Netherlands, Daniel Fridman and Benjamin Bok had two Grünfelds on the same day, in both cases Black obtained good positions from the opening and went on to win.
The first of these was a 5.Bd2 Exchange which is looking more and more as if it has been shorn of its terror these days.
The plan of ...Nb6, combined with a quick ...c5, is particularly effective if followed up by ...Bxc3+ smashing up White's structure. Several similar examples can be seen in the notes to Game 7, and in general Black has few worries.
5 h4 dxc4 [D90]
This is another variation where Black seems to have resolved most of his problems. Unless White can find something quite dramatic, I expect it to be seen less often in future. Fridman's attempt to vary with 9.Bd3 in Game 8 failed to impress as straight away it was Bok who was pressing.
The key variation with 9.Bxb5 has seen a number of developments, and there might be some opportunities for new ideas. However, at present, White's initiative seems to be worth the sacrificed pawn but no more.
Russian System 7 Bf4 [D96] 7...Nc6 8 Bf4 [D97]
In both games White drops behind in development and Black seizes the initiative. I suppose this is always a risk if White brings out his queen early and neglects his kingside.
In Game 9, Kovalyov-Ivanchuk, Black's quick development became a serious problem for White. I particularly liked Ivanchuk's ...c5, as then White just couldn't cope with all the pressure on his position. The whole game was just so one-sided it shows that 8.Rd1 is probably just plain bad.
The idea of a quick ...Be6 seems quite effective against those lines where White delays e2-e4.
Game 10 was an exciting scrap where the result was in doubt until the very end. The computer prefers Black early on and then later White, but no one ever had complete control.
The opening phase was fine for Black after 10.dxc6 which turns out to give Black too much time to generate strong activity. I then quite like the simple 11...Nxf4 (instead of 11...Rb8) which would already have been better for the second player.
Till next month, Glenn Flear
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