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This month two big events were played, the European Team Championships, and the Saint Luis Rapid and Blitz. As usual in such events the players are coming well prepared so I found interesting games in the Grünfeld and Pseudo-Grünfeld, a lot of them involving h2-h4 plans.
We start this month's survey with two games that belong to the Anti or Pseudo-Grünfeld lines.

Download PGN of November ’23 Daring Defences games

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Pseudo-Grünfeld, 5.h4 Bg7 6.h5 [A16]

Game one is Kourkoulos Arditis, S - Shirov, A from the European Team played in Budva, after 5...Bg7 White continued with the consequent 6.h5:

A very sharp position, to say the least, and not standard at all. In the notes I analyzed some more ideas here.

Pseudo-Grünfeld, 5.h4 Bg7 6.e4 [A16]

Melkumyan, H - Ragger, M was played in Budva as well, but in this game White went for an endgame after 6.e4 Nxc3 7.dxc3 Qxd1+ 8.Kxd1:

Another very interesting line, although in this game White didn’t achieve any kind of pressure, but there are still possibilities to investigate further.

Grünfeld Exchange 7.Nf3 c5 8.h3 0-0 9.Be2 b6 [D85]

We continue our survey with the Exchange Grünfeld. Here we have interesting games in various lines that White can use now. Games three and four concern the 8.h3 line, and we start with them.

Schitco, I - Rodshtein, M was also from the European Teams at Budva and after 8...0-0 9.Be2 Black played another typical plan in the Grünfeld 9...b6:

Not a clear equalizer for Black but not bad either. Black must be precise in order to keep the balance, and in this game Black did that well. On the other hand, compared to the more direct line that starts with 9...cxd4, that we will see in next game, it is less forcing.

Grünfeld Exchange 7.Nf3 c5 8.h3 0-0 9.Be2 cxd4 10.cxd4 Nc6 [D85]

Game four is Giri, A - Vachier Lagrave, M from Saint Louis, after 10.cxd4 Nc6 11.Be3 Qa5+ 12.Bd2 Qa3:

We have the starting position of this important line in which White played a new idea that gave him the upper hand. I must say that defending this line with Black is not easy, and even though my engine suggests a better defensive idea, it's still no fun playing with Black. I think we will see more of this line for White.

Grünfeld Exchange 8.Bb5+ Nc6 9.0-0 0-0 [D85]

Game five, Xiong, J - Vachier Lagrave, M, Saint Louis Blitz USA, features another very popular and basically risk-free line for White. This is another tormenting line for Grünfeld players in which they cannot hope for more then a draw with very precise play. After 8.Bb5+ Nc6 9.0-0 0-0 10.Bxc6 bxc6 11.Qc2:

We have reached this line in which Black didn’t have much of a problem but where White didn’t play the most consequent line. I have analysed some other ideas in the notes.

Exchange Variation 7.Be3 c5 8.Nf3 Qa5 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.Rb1 a6 [D85]

Sevian, S - Vachier Lagrave, M is yet another game from Saint Louis. This one concerns an endgame that is not highly considered but it's not bad either. Perhaps it just needs some attention.

The diagram position occurs after the initial moves 8.Be3 Qa5 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.Rb1 a6 11.Rc1 cxd4 12.cxd4 Qxd2+ 13.Kxd2 e6 It is thought that this is not best because White can use the b6 square in some cases and the pawn structure a6-b7 is not considered the strongest, but Black does have resources to play on as well.

Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4 0-0 [D90]

Games seven and eight belong to another group of lines in the Grünfeld.

Our game 7 is Keymer, V - Rapport, R from the European Teams, Budva. Here we have another game in which White went for an h2- h4 plan: after 5.h4 Black opted for 5...0-0 (in the September update I analysed the sharp 5...dxc4.)

The outcome of the opening phase is not at all pleasing for Black, I tried to analyze as deeply as possible, and although some better choices exist overall the positions are not easy for Black.

Grünfeld 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 h6!? [D91]

Now we come to game eight which features an experimental idea for Black at this moment, due to the lack of games, but its very much possible that we will see it more often. So, we follow the game Thybo, Jesper Sondergaard - Ragger, M from the European Teams in Budva where we have an unusual idea for Black as early as move 6! After 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 h6!?:

Highly unusual and seldom played but it’s certainly worth investigating.

Till next month, best wishes Milos.

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