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Time for a special month on this important and ever popular defence. In a number of games this month, a player varying from the straight and narrow quickly gets into trouble. A sign that with either colour it's important to learn your theory properly. So keep reading the Daring Defences updates to make sure you avoid falling for the same traps as some of the players in October's featured games!

Download PGN of October ’18 Daring Defences games

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Grünfeld 4.Bg5 Bg7 5.Bxf6 Bxf6 6.cxd5 c6 [D80]

In Yuffa, D - Artemiev, V the complications arising from 5.Bxf6 Bxf6 6.cxd5 c6 seem to have got White confused:

In several variations in the notes it's perfectly OK for White to capture on c6 as part of his overall strategy, however Yuffa in the actual game chose a bad moment to do so. I think Black's domination here illustrates the fact that 9.dxc6 definitely deserves a ? and perhaps, on a more general note, that it's easy to lose one's way! Even if White had chosen the best move 9.Bc4, then after 9...b5, I think that Black is doing fine.

Grünfeld Exchange - 5.Na4 Bg7 [D85]

In some ways 5.Na4 can be considered an artifical move, and after examining Hamitevici, V - Ponkratov, P this impression might be magnified! However it's quite a tricky line where both sides have plenty of scope to go wrong. An illustration being in the note to move six where (OK, I know, it was a Blitz game) a strong GM blundered a piece on move seven (!)

The theme of the game is White's b-pawn grabbing manoeuvre Na4-c5xb7 which costs time, but enables Black to get very active piece play. My investigations have led me to the conclusion that all these White attempts to avoid the main line (with 10.Nxb7 which is well covered in the archives) are inferior, and indeed after the 10.d5 of the game I think that Black is already better.

Grünfeld Exchange - 7.Qa4+ Bd7 [D85]

The result in Dambacher, M - Van Wely, L (i.e. 1-0) may not have been solely as a consequence of the opening sequence, but I've been slightly suspicious about meeting 7.Qa4+ with 7...Bd7 for some time. It's not that it's necessarily a bad move, but Black's pieces are awkwardly placed and he needs to be very careful not to slip into the worse position. Actually, to be fair, I think that Van Wely would have been OK with 11...h6 12.Be3 b6 instead of his over-enthusiastic pawn sacrifice 11...Qd6?. In the game, Dambacher took the booty and held onto it all the way to the bank, as Black's compensation disappeared rather quickly and the endgame proved to be untenable for Black.

Grünfeld Exchange - Be3 & Nf3, 8...Qa5 9.Nd2 [D85]

In Gagare, S - Paravyan, D the tricky line with 9.Nd2 was employed. A long time ago this was something of a surprise weapon, but these days it doesn't look very dangerous as good answers have been worked out. I like the way that Paravyan diffuses White's opening including the counter 12...b5:

This has now occurred in several games and my feeling is that he has no particular worries. In the game Black equalized so comfortably he was soon playing for more and ultimately outplayed his opponent, who failed to notice that his bishop was getting ensnared until it was too late.

Grünfeld Exchange - Be3 & Nf3, 8...Qa5 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.Rb1 a6 11.Rc1 [D85]

I really like David Howell's win in his game against Stefan Docx from the Olympiad, as it's a model example of using the Grünfeld majority in an endgame. The opening in Docx, S - Howell, D is also of theoretical interest as the Englishman makes a repertoire suggestion for White (by Kornev) look rather ineffective by meeting White's 16.h4...

 the precise response 16...h6!. On a general level, this response to h2-h4 seems to be the most trustworthy way to cope with the h-pawn thrust at various moments in this line, such as on move fourteen. White's next couple of moves handed the initiative over to Black, but if ...b5 turns out to be a useful idea (as here) then the whole plan of provoking ...a6 needs reviewing.

Grünfeld Exchange - 8.Rb1, 10...Qa5+ 11.Bd2 Qxa2 12.0-0 b6 [D85]

Of course this is known as one of the most theoretical lines in the Grünfeld, and the encounter Paravyan, D - Novik, Ma was no exception.

In the diagram everyone had previously settled for the natural 19...Qa2 and hadn't then been in any great difficulties. Here Novik innovated with the surprising 19...Nxd4!? where he gave up a piece for three pawns and some simplification. The resulting scenario may offer practical chances for Black, but personally I'd take the piece any day. Later on, White was hoping to make something of his extra knight, and he certainly made some progress, but the presence of the 'wrong rook's pawn' meant that the defender always had resources.

Grünfeld Exchange - 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 Nc6, 10...Na5 11.Bd3 e5 [D87]

In Laznicka, V - Khusenkhojaev, M Black's slightly unusual approach was well countered by the experienced Czech GM, so although 11...e5!? nibbles at White's centre:

after 12.dxe5 c4 13.Bc2 Bxe5 the fact that White has a handy outpost on d4 seems to give him an edge. This fact was then exploited by Laznicka and so Black's opening thus doesn't look very impressive. Later, Black resisted with great determination, but White just about kept control and ultimately went on to win.

Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4 c6 6.cxd5 cxd5 7.Bf4 [D90]

In Rozum, I - Artemiev, V Black innovates and is able to demonstrate yet another new way to obtain a good game against 5.h4. The theory is crystallizing and one can now conclude that 5...c6 6.cxd5 cxd5 has proven to be solid enough in many recent encounters. The novelty deserves a diagram:

Here Artemiev opts for the strange-looking 11...Bg4 which is even more surprising when you consider that he had just played 10...Bf5. However, the tempo investment proves to be sound enough to keep White from doing anything dangerous on the kingside. In the game, it was Black who attacked on that wing, as the h-pawn proved to be a serious weakness. Rozum countered with some pawn grabbing of his own on the other wing and managed to come back in time to save the game.

Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.e3 0-0 6.Bd2 [D94]

It's quite hard to write any theoretical conclusions about the opening in Abasov, N - Ponkratov, P as there are so many options for both sides. Probably the simplest way for one to prepare is to play through a few lines and get a feel for the type of structure that you feel comfortable with. Ponkratov accepted hanging pawns and a tense middlegame resulted before opening up slightly in Black's favour. A tough struggle followed and despite the fact that Black had an extra pawn it wasn't at all easy to make any progress, either in the middlegame or endgame. Towards the end, Black let his advantage slip, but I'm not sure if he was winning even after the improvement 76...h4!.

Grünfeld Russian, Prins Variation 7.e4 Na6 8.Be2 [D97]

In the Prins variation, play tends to revolve around the importance of White's passed d-pawn. Indeed, if White has the time to get himself fully coordinated it can offer him an advantage. The encounter Volkov, S - Gledura, B reached the following position...

...and Benjamin Gledura opted for 14...Qb6. Well, it may not be the worst move that Black has played here, but I don't believe that it is best. I really think that full equality can only be achieved if Black is willing to go into the highly theoretical complications that result from 14...Ng4 which hits the dark-squared bishop on e3 and opens up Black's own one on g7. In the game, Volkov showed great technique to win, but I suspect that Gledura should have been holding if he hadn't panicked.

Till next month, Glenn Flear

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