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Grünfeld 4.Bg5 Ne4 5.cxd5 Nxg5 6.h4 [D80]
In Bluebaum, M - Mamedyarov, S the German GM tried to spice-up a sideline in the 4.Bg5 variation by pushing his h-pawn:
In the notes to the game I ask the question: How much does this advance inconvenience the opponent? If I really had to answer, then I would perhaps reply "a little, but not enough to ensure any advantage".
In the game, for example, after the natural sequence 10...Bf6 11.Qd2 0-0 12.Nf3 Rd8 13.e3 c5 Black had equalized and I didn't find any improvements for White. As for the latter stages of the game, one feels that White should have been able to draw, but he certainly had the more difficult decisions to make in the double-rook endgame.
Exchange 7.Qa4+ Nd7 8.Nf3 0-0 9.Qa3 [D85]
The h-pawn plays an important role in Praggnanandhaa, R - Grandelius, N even though the white queen was far away on the queenside.
In the diagram position, in an earlier game, Cheparinov reacted with 11...Bb7 12.e5 b5! and obtained good play, so perhaps this is the answer to Praggnanandhaa's approach. Grandelius tried 11...e5, but was unable to obtain adequate play following 12.d5, although a case could perhaps be made for the KID-style 12...f5 at this point.
Exchange 7.h3 0-0 8.Nf3 c5 9.Be2 Nc6 10.Be3 [D85]
I get the impression in Babula, V - Menezes, C that Babula's move order has some bite, as in the diagram position White has some promising ideas:
Here Stockfish gives 14.Bd2!? after which I can't find a route to equality for Black. Instead, 14.Nd2 was tempting and quite understandable on Babula's part, but the exchange sacrifice that followed i.e. 14...cxd4! 15.Nc4 Qxg5 16.Nxd6 dxc3 should have enabled Black to obtain a reasonable game, that is if Menezes had then opted for 'positional compensation' rather than seeking a phantom attack.
So, in order to better compete, perhaps Black needs to seek an alternative rather earlier. A logical way would be to place his bishop on b7, once White has played h2-h3. So I suggest investigating either 9...b6 or even 9...b5.
Exchange 7.Be3 c5 8.Qd2 Qa5 9.Nf3 0-0 10.Rc1 Rd8 11.d5 [D85]
There were no early surprises in Pranav, A - Priasmoro, N as both players stuck to standard set-ups. It's in the diagram position where Black has some choice:
Here there is a wide choice of satisfactory options, 14...Qa4 (hitting e4), 14...b6 (aiming for ...Ba6) or the game move 14...exd5. Then, following 15.exd5, Black's 15...Bg4 was perhaps not too bad, but I prefer the safer-looking 15...Ne7 when the follow-up ...Nf5 comes into consideration.
The complications that followed were full of chances for both players, with Pranav ultimately winning with a nice sacrificial attack.
Exchange 7.Nf3 c5 8.Bb5+ Nc6 9.d5 [D85]
The game Lalith, B - Papadiamandis, E became quite exciting before ending in a repetition.
The young French player (who is about to become an IM) chose 9...a6 (instead of the main move 9...Qa5). Black has previously achieved a reasonable percentage, despite the fact that it is quite trappy and he has to be particularly careful. Lalith's reply 10.Be2 seems to be the best way to create any problems and one could argue that he obtained the better game in the following play (for example following 17.e5 instead of 17.Ba3).
Even in the notes you might notice that Black's alternatives from move ten onwards seem to have their downsides, so it could be that 9...Qa5! is objectively the best way of handling this line.
Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4 dxc4 6.e4 c5 7.d5 b5 8.h5 [D90]
A highly theoretical line was tested in Indjic, A - Radovanovic, N with White coming out on top.
A key moment seems to be in the diagram position with Black being obliged to move his queen, but where should it go?
The game move 14...Qa5+ places the queen well away from the kingside which became an issue after 15.Bd2 Qb6 16.Nfg5 when White definitely had attacking chances. Previously in this 15...Qd8 (offering a repetition) had led to a quick draw, but White has promising ways to play for more in several ways including 16.Rxg7+!?. So, in the diagram position, I suggest 14...Qf8 as played by Savchenko, with a double-edged struggle in prospect where Black isn't objectively worse.
Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4 c6 6.Bg5 dxc4 7.e4 Be6 [D90]
Another sharp version of 5.h4 occurred in Kozak, A - Antal, G with Black holding onto the c-pawn in the early stages.
Kozak seemed intent on continuing with an aggressive stance, but following 8.e5 Nd5 9.h5 the complications are probably not in White's favour. Some players like to gambit pawns and no doubt there are some of the readership who are attracted by this sort of position (Garry Kasparov tried it once against Nepomniachtchi!), but I think Black is doing well enough. Instead, if asked how to make the gambit 'palatable', I would probably suggest the more positional idea 8.a4 with greater chances to keep control.
Exchange Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e3 [D94]
I was interested by the encounter Campos Moreno, J - Alsina Leal, D where White won in a line that isn't supposed to give him anything. However it seems that there are some practical decisions for Black to make that are not so straightforward.
In fact there are a number of themes here, but Black has to find the right move order to assure equality. Alsina Leal started with 15...Re8 which feels right (as it bolsters e7 which turns out to be important in what often follows) but after 16.Be3 the right way to assure 'safe equality' is with 16...Bxc3 as Kamsky has played. Instead, the choice of 16...Nc8 (to re-route via d6) isn't necessarily bad, but such provocation then requires sturdy defensive technique to meet White's attacking ideas.
A little later, Campos Moreno's dynamic choice of 18.d6 (generating an outpost on d5 for the cost of a pawn) worked in the game, but I think Black was objectively OK.
Grünfeld 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Rc1 Be6 7.e3 dxc4 8.Ng5 Bd5 9.e4 h6 [D92]
In Dreev, A - Deac, B Black got into hot water after snatching the d-pawn at the wrong moment.
Here 18...a5! is precise and after 19.a4 Rad8 20.Rcd1it seems that Black can capture on c3 and snatch a pawn with little risk. In the actual game however, after 18...Bxc3? 19.Rxc3 Nxd5 20.Rg3 the rook that had been pushed to g3 played a pivotal role in the kingside attack.
So there's nothing particularly wrong with this line for Black, it's just a question of learning plenty of theory and then (once everything is in place) making sure you can calculate the right moment to pounce on the d-pawn.
Grünfeld Russian 7.e4 a6 8.Be2 b5 9.Qd3 [D97]
I couldn't remember seeing the 9.Qd3 of Zhou Jianchao - Talukdar, R before, and with good reason as it's new to ChessPublishing!
This rare try was already played a decade ago by Zhou Jianchao to beat Li Chao, but even more notably was once played in a blitz game by Carlsen. In reply, the main choice is between 9...c5 (after which 10.dxc5 Qxd3! should quickly lead to equality) and 9...Bb7 of the actual game. Here, Talukdar managed to defend himself (and was even better towards the end) against his much higher-rated opponent, but I would argue that Zhou Jianchao's novelty 15.Bg4 seems to yield a pull. Which brings me back to the ninth move, where I recommend 9...c5! which I consider to be more trustworthy.
Till next month, Glenn Flear
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