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It's a bumper month for Grünfeld players as I'll be focusing on new developments in this ever-popular opening.

Download PGN of October ’16 Daring Defences games

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Anti-Grünfeld 3.f3, 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 Qd6 [D70]

I suppose that 3.f3 isn't really a Grünfeld unless Black plays 3...d5, but most Grünfelders prefer these complication to the Sämisch King's Indian.

The following position after 14...Na5 has become a regular feature amongst the elite in recent times...

White's plan is to move his bishop to f4, g5, or h6, (causing disruption, and/or preparing an attack) either here or over the next couple of moves. Small differences in move order and the consequences of subtle changes in the position of just one piece seem to be attracting the attention of those in the know. I hope my notes illustrate the latest developments, but things can easily change over the next few months, so stay informed!

I like the plan demonstrated by Cheparinov, in Cheparinov, I - Piorun, K, as this seems to be a really new way of handling the set-up. My notes suggest that Black can perhaps live with White's pressure, but it's not so easy to handle. I was wondering what will Black players do to meet this new (positional) threat?

Anti-Grünfeld 3.f3, 7.Be3 Nc6 [D70]

The result of Gunina, V - Muzychuk, M in Game Two could be considered as a travesty as Black really should have won. However, if it's complicated and the opponent is stressed then there is always a chance!

The opening went well for Black, which again suggests that dispensing with castling and instead opting for the immediate 7...Nc6 is a valid alternative:

A final judgement of this idea will probably involve 8.Bb5, but that's another story. In the game, 8.d5 led to some exchanges that don't seem to trouble Black.

Grünfeld 4.Bg5 Bg7 5.Bxf6 Bxf6 6.cxd5 c5 [D80]

In Munkhgal, G - Vakhidov, T the following position arose...

Black has to decide whether or not to grab the piece. In the game he did and...was pitilessly crushed!

Instead, he should continue his development with 13...Nd7 and follow up with ...0-0 to obtain a reasonable game. So Black's loss can be attributed to being unable to resist the bait, rather than any defects of 4...Bg7.

A slightly different way of handling Black's game is with 7...cxd4 8.Nxd4 Qb6 (which is more common and looks fine), rather than the immediate 7...Qb6 (which is nevertheless also OK, I believe).

Grünfeld 4.Bg5 Ne4 5.Bh4 [D91]

In Moroni, L - Grischuk, A White varied from the main line with a slow move 13.Bg3. This didn't work well, as it enabled Black the tempo he required to get some freedom and counterplay going with an early ...c5. The Italian GM could certainly have made it more complicated, but overall he was rather out-classed by Alexander Grischuk.

Developments in the main line (with 13.Rfb1) are more challenging, but Kovalenko - Salem from the August 2016 update (plus a few additions in the notes here) indicate to me that both sides can easily go astray in the complications. This is a key line and needs some serious work before giving it an OTB outing.

Grünfeld 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 0-0 6.Rc1 [D83]

Wojtaszek, R - Salem, A, involving 7...Be6, led to a middlegame where White has not been achieving very much over the years. Here again Black's position seemed solid enough, but Salem's problems arose after he was too docile in allowing his kingside pawn structure to be damaged.

There were no blunders, but four mediocre choices (see moves 19, 20, 23, and 26) were too many. Wojtaszek kept control and won the rook endgame with little difficulty.

However, as to the opening, historically 7...Be6 has been played more often than 7...Qa5 and actually scores better.

Grünfeld Exchange with 7.Qa4+ Nd7 [D85]

In Anton Guijarro, D - Piorun, K, White was able to introduce a reasonable novelty and this earned him a small edge after the opening. However, the Spanish GM was outplayed by Kacper Piorun who has shown incredible form in the last eighteen months.

In this position, after 10...Nf6, White's 11.Bd3 was new, whereas in the past 11.d5 and 11.e5 have been tried (but neither of them with any great success).

We'll need further examples of this move to see if it is really challenging '10...Nf6's path to equality'. Otherwise there isn't much wrong with the main choice 10...Nb6.

Grünfeld Exchange 7.Nf3 c5 8.Be3 Qa5 9.Nd2 [D85]

In Game Seven, Parligras, M - Ipatov, A, the early 9.Nd2 variation was tested. Ipatov was well-prepared and seemed to find a satisfactory way to equality. He snatched a pawn, but then engineered some queenside counterplay that ultimately led to a drawish endgame. So his work on the reply 9...Bd7 paid off:

Funnily enough, Parligras had had the same opening the day before but there 9...Nd7 was tried. A good question is then: Which of these options is better? I'm not sure how to answer, except to mention that Ipatov's choice might help you make your decision.

Grünfeld Exchange 7.Bc4 c5, 11.Rb1 [D87]

In Urkedal, F - Illingworth, M, White was successful with an unusual set-up involving 12.Qa4:

Illingworth replied with 12...Na5 but then White had a nice manoeuvre... 13.Bf4 e5 14.Bg5 Rf8 15.Bd5 which enabled him to install his bishop on a fine central outpost. This certainly helped White obtain an 'easier-to-play' position going into the middlegame, even if I won't go as far as claiming that it's an objective advantage. The win in the actual game can only be put down to a bad blunder from Black, not White's cunning idea.

So it looks like Black should probably play 12...Bd7 and then after 13.Qa3 he should choose between various options, but this could well be the right moment for 13...Na5.

Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4 [D90]

In Vidit, S - Bok, B the highly sharp h-pawn push is given another outing. It was at the height of fashion a few years ago, but has now become a rarity at GM-level. I think that Bok was taken by surprise which may explain why he went astray quite early.

Here, after 13.Rh3, Bok tried 13...Bb7, but Vidit calmly collected the b5-pawn and seemed to be better in the ensuing mess. Instead 13...Nc6 is called for when 14.Nxb5!? is an idea that I have already analyzed (see the archives). A recent game continued with 14.a4 b4 15.Nce4, but then 15...Ngxe5! looks fine.

The moral of this tale is that it's better to work on your openings regularly, that is before (rather than after) you have forgotten your preparation!

Grünfeld-Slav hybrid [D95]

In Korobov, A - Nepomniachtchi, I, against White's solid opening system with 5.e3 and 6.Bd2, Nepomniachtchi switched to an equally cautious hybrid (i.e. somewhere in no-man's-land between a Grünfeld and a Slav) that is sometimes known as the Schlechter System:

I've suggested some alternative ways of playing for Black, which may better suit those who want something more dynamic out of the opening. This line with 6.Bd2 is reminiscent of a reversed Réti or Catalan, which I've played with reversed colours. It may become more relevant in future, as Korobov's choice is suggested by Cyrus Lakwadala for White in a recent book. In the featured game, White neglected his king's security and was duly punished for it.

Till next month, Glenn Flear

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