ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
A special Grünfeld month this time, with a number of novelties that might prove useful in your preparation for the summer. Some previously 'strange' moves such as meeting 4.Bg5 with 4...c5 or an early h2-h4 by White are now becoming mainstream! It's funny how things evolve. I do begin however with a Neo-Grünfeld where you can find some theoretical developments...

Download PGN of June ’18 Daring Defences games

>> Previous Update >>

Neo-Grünfeld - 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.0-0 c5 [D75]

In Wojtaszek, R - Tomczak, J the highly-rated Wojtaszek took on Tomczak in the latter's pet 7...c5 line. Indeed, he seemed well-prepared (up to a point!) and introduced a promising novelty in the following position after 12...Nc2:

Here 13.Bg5 looks dangerous for Black. However, the game plan soon went off the rails as he rather slackly allowed Black to exchange queens when his 'good compensation' went out the window. After that it was a question of scrambling a draw in a curious sacrificing a second exchange! The material balance towards the end was rather odd, but Wojtaszek seemed to know what he was doing and earned his half-point.

Don't skip the note to move three, it may be important for those who can face the Neo-Grünfeld in their repertoire.

Grünfeld 4.Bg5 Ne4 5.Bh4, Fischer's 6...dxc4 [D80/91]

In Moiseenko, A - Yankelevich, L my reading of the early play is that Black's memory of the theory failed and OTB he was unable to find a good way to ease White's queenside pressure. So Black's 14th move (14...Bc6) shouldn't be repeated, whereas experience suggests that the precise 14...Qe8 seems adequate. Later on, the power of White's major pieces compared to Black's limp ones was impressive. Although Yankelevich may have missed an opportunity to get some drawing chances in a double-rook endgame, he was always suffering.

Grünfeld 4.Bg5 c5!? [D80]

The opening contained lots of unusual ideas in Kovalenko, I - Deac, BD but 4...c5!? is a whole new playing field that has only recently come to light, so there are all sorts of discoveries just waiting to be found:

I found it surprising that White could get away with castling long and still find the time to generate threats on the h-file, but it worked like a dream! Black's error wasn't in the opening, but a little later as his 14...Qc5?! didn't really help his cause. It ultimately led to him failing to correctly coordinate his pieces, and as such he was unable to stop White's direct attacking plan. As to the theory, I don't think that 6.Nf3 is a worry for Black.

Grünfeld Exchange 8.Rb1, 10...Qa5+ [D85]

A highly theoretical line in the notorious 'a2-pawn sac variation' was tested in Kozul, Z - Djukic, Ni. The always combative Kozul has lots of experience in this variation and was better able to navigate the complications. He had already had the position after 16.Rb4!? before:

There are perhaps various ways for Black to obtain a playable game which often involves sacrificing the exchange to dissolve White's centre and thus obtaining some sort of fortress. The game continuation 16...b6 17.e5 Bxf3 18.Bxf3 Nc4 19.d6 led to Black getting into serious difficulties, but there could be a route to safety starting with 19...Nxe3.

Grünfeld Exchange Be3 & Nf3, 8...Qa5 9.Qd2 O-O 10.Rc1 Rd8 [D85]

It was time that I had a closer look at those positions resulting from 13.c4, as an alternative to bishop moves.

This was tested in Petrosyan, M - Artemiev, V where Artemiev, the higher-rated player, essentially outplayed his opponent. My investigations suggest that Black has no particular problems here, especially after 13...Nc6 which was employed in the game. So with 13.Be3 Nc6 14.Bd3 b6! and 13.Bf4 Qa4! both holding up to scrutiny, it looks as if the 'Be3 Exchange' has been shorn of its terror.

Grünfeld Exchange Be3 & Nf3, 8...Qa5 9.Qd2 O-O 10.Rc1 Nd7 [D85]

In Akobian, V - Xiong, J I get the impression that it's not 'theoretical knowledge' that led to White emerging on top but more 'feeling and experience'. Akobian has employed these lines before and at the key moment he just had that little bit more understanding of what was going on.

Xiong could well have equalized with 21...e4, but there aren't really any realistic winning chances for Black. Instead, he enthusiastically sought 'active piece play' with 21...Rae8, but the simplification that followed showed that White's centralized king was a strength rather than a weakness.

For those seeking a more double-edged struggle, I would suggest the largely forgotten 12...Qa3 as a dynamic alternative.

Grünfeld Exchange 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 0-0 9.0-0 Nc6 10.Be3 Qc7 [D87]

From Adhiban's point of view, this was one that got away! Everything went swimmingly for White in Adhiban, B - Petrosian, TL but somehow in the 'thirties' he failed to cash in on a sizeable advantage.

The opening involving the Shabalov-inspired 12.h4 was notable, as was Black reacting with 12..Na5 13.Bd3 e5!?:

This type of position will require further tests before one can reach more trustworthy conclusions, but the fact that White has the option of h4-h5 up his sleeve is enough to make many a human feel uncomfortable in Black's shoes. In the middlegame, Petrosian didn't find a good plan but he redeemed himself with some gritty defending to ultimately hold out.

A crushing win for the Spaniard in Anton Guijarro, D - Sindarov, J means that we need to ask a few questions about how Black handled the late opening. Sure 11.Qd2!? is unusual, especially when White doesn't bother with Rac1 but still, how can things have then gone so badly for Black? In my opinion, it all came down to the loss of one tempo with the rather ineffective 15...Qc7. Instead, Black should immediately hit back at the centre with 15...e6 and open some lines for his bishops. If you don't really know an opening, you can do worse than sticking to general principles!

Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4 [D90]

The adventures in the 5.h4 Grünfeld continue! In Narayanan, SL - Safarli, E an exciting game panned out in Black's favour, but if we look closely at the details it becomes evident that White was better in the early stages. I don't think there is anything wrong for Black with the sequence 5...c6 6.Bg5 Ne4!?:

but a little later Safarli's provocative sacrifice of his b-pawn doesn't seem to hold water. Various improvements are available on move eight or even later at move eleven, but my favourite is 8...dxc4 9.Bxc4 Nd6 as the knight seems to control just about every key square on the board from here!

It's a pleasure to analyze games where players 'go for gold' as they did in Mamedyarov, S - Navara, D. I should point out the ambitious 5...dxc4!? from Navara and Mamedyarov's novelty 10.d6 which is hard to assess because I'm not sure the engines understand what is going on!

Most games had previously continued with 10.e5, but this may now change as, apart from Mamedyarov's success here, Li Chao won a crushing game with the new 10.Nxb5 which goes to show that there are plenty of fresh options herein. Naturally, with such weird complications, I have to warn you to take any of my analyses with a pinch of salt, but my feeling is that 13...Nc6 would have been a better choice than 13...d4.

Till next month, Glenn Flear

>> Previous Update >>

If you have any questions, either leave a message on the Daring Defences Forum, or subscribers can email me at