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Despite it being one of the most intensively analyzed openings, there always seem to be plenty of novelties popping up in our beloved Grünfeld. This month all ten games feature new ideas, some being good, others less clear, whereas in some cases the less said the better (i.e. they should definitely not be repeated)! In any case, I'm sure there will be some that will interest anyone who enjoys a good Grünfeld or two.

Download PGN of October ’19 Daring Defences games

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Grünfeld 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 c5 6.dxc5 Qa5 7.Rc1 Nbd7 [D82]

White was under pressure for a great deal of Zhao Yuanhe - Paravan, D but he did have the material advantage of two knights for a rook. After defending carefully, he missed a chance to break out and obtain a winning position with 26.Nxe6! and eventually had to settle for half-a-point.

Opening-wise, Black opted for general confusion with his surprising seventh move 7...Nbd7!?:

This had only been played once before (the previous day!), so White probably didn't have any home preparation to help him wind his way through the complex play that followed. Paravan 'sacced' a piece for interesting play, but he was thwarted by a good defensive display by his lower-rated opponent.

Grünfeld Exchange 7.Nf3 c5 8.Bb5+ Nc6 9.Rb1 [D85]

Black was doing well early on in Yu Yangyi - Nepomniachtchi, I but White eventually drummed up a kingside attack in the queenless middlegame. The position after 9.Rb1 is rare but becoming popular of late:

After 9...0-0 10.d5 Ne5 White innovated with 11.Nxe5 and calmly sacrificed his c-pawn hoping to gain time for an attack. The Russian GM was up to the task (for the first part of the struggle) and happily chomped on the queenside with an objectively favourable position. Although Yu Yangyi didn't seem to have much more than vague threats, Black's position proved difficult to handle and the game swung in White's favour.

I suspect that 11.0-0 will ultimately become accepted as more trustworthy than 11.Nxe5, but in both cases exciting play should follow.

Grünfeld Exchange 7.Ba3 0-0 8.Nf3 b6 9.Bc4 [D85]

The offbeat 7.Ba3 doesn't generally have a good reputation (isn't the bishop misplaced, here?) but White used it to win the encounter Akobian, V - Swiercz, D. The position on move twelve isn't a forced consequence, but comes about when both players continue logically:

After 13.Rfd1 White's plan of keeping central control whilst pushing the h-pawn (14.h4!?) may seem familiar, but it feels that it should be ineffective with the bishop on a3. Akobian used his experience and Black's reckless handling of his wing pawns to steer the game to victory. It feels like Black should somehow 'punish' his opponent for neglecting the c1-h6 diagonal with ...Bh6, such as with 13...Na5 14.Bd3 Bh6!?, because (in the actual game) White was able to bring his bishop back to the c1-h6 diagonal and then probe away 'free of charge'.

Grünfeld Exchange 7.Qa4+ Nd7 8.Nf3 c5 9.Be2 0-0 [D85]

Carlsen, M - Nepomniachtchi, I led to a queen for two rooks middlegame which I found difficult to judge. I'm perhaps in good company, as I don't think the engines are that competent here either! It looks to me though that Nepomniachtchi met Carlsen's novelty 14.Bxf3 rather well by correctly capturing on d4 (14...Bxd4!) and then avoiding the tricks.

As a general observation, 7.Qa4+ and now 7...Nd7 (best, in my opinion) has in recent years become popular, especially when White drops the queen back to the a3-square. I could advise you to make sure that you know your stuff, but older reference books might not cover this so well. Fortunately, there is always ChessPublishing!

Grünfeld Exchange 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.Be3 0-0 10.0-0 b6 [D87]

Sergey Karjakin has again outfoxed MVL with his opening preparation in a line that the Frenchman has otherwise generally done quite well in. The move 14.Bd5 in Karjakin, S - Vachier-Lagrave, M took the clash into less-well known waters:

It seems to me that Vachier-Lagrave didn't remember his theory that well and got his lines mixed up. The game continued from the diagram with 14...Ng4 15.g3 Nxe3 16.fxe3 a6 (here some e-mail games have shown that 16...Bh3 is playable) 17.Nd4 and now 17...bxc5? was a serious mistake whereas 17...Bh3 seems acceptable.

So if MVL can forget his home analysis, then anybody can! Maybe this will spur you on to read Daring Defences more diligently!

Grünfeld Exchange 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 0-0 9.Be3 Qc7 [D87]

Black puts up a remarkable rearguard action to save the game in Najer, E - Gledura, B holding an exchange down endgame with a series of resourceful moves. As to the opening, 9...Qc7!? (rather than 9...Nc6) 10.Rc1 and now 10...Nd7 (rather than placing the steed on the standard c6-square) is unusual, but not that far off the beaten track. Indeed, following 11.h4 Rd8 12.h5 the young Hungarian star should have reverted back to known territory with 12...Ne5 rather than his wild and woolly 12...b5?! after which White was better.

I have to admit that I can't remember ever seeing Black's scheme (instigated with his ninth and tenth moves) being played before, but it was once tried by Botvinnik. So with a pedigree like that it might be worth considering. What do you think?

Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qb3 [D90]

In Predke, A - Nepomniachtchi, I Black varied from previous experience in the following position after 13.Qb3:

Previously, three other moves had been tried 13...Nd3+?!, 13...Be6, and 13...cxd4, the latter pair being the most likely to yield a good game.

Nepomniachtchi instead came up with 13...a5 which the engines don't like very much. Despite this fact, it turns out to be surprisingly difficult for White to keep control, despite his extra pawns and a certain central grip. In practical terms, he has to be very precise for many moves to retain any advantage at all, and meantime things can easily go wrong (such as here!). With this in mind, we can understand why Black would be willing to try the risky 11...Nb4 rather than play the more theoretical and not particularly promising 11...cxd4.

Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4 c5 [D90]

Black seemed to be intent on seizing the initiative in Tabatabaei, M - Xiong, J whereas White went into solid mode straight out of the opening. Meeting 5.h4 with 5...c5 6.dxc5 0-0 (Wei Yi's move):

looks 'cool'. Why not blast open the centre? Black often does so in analogous Grünfelds where White has played more conservatively, so it feels that it should be justified against a really-early h2-h4. So far, there have only been two games arising from the further moves 7.cxd5 Na6 but in both of them Black was fine (here 8.g3 wasn't a serious test, whilst Inarkiev's 8.h5 versus Wei Yi soon rebounded on him).

As a footnote, I also quite like 6...Na6 7.cxd5 and now 7...0-0 transposing to the featured game.

Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bg5 Ne4 6.cxd5 Nxg5 7.Nxg5 e6 8.Qd2 h6 9.Nh3 [D91]

The higher-rated player was perhaps fortunate to squeeze out a win late in the game in Cruz, Jon - Antal, G. Even so, Antal certainly deserves credit for finding quite a good novelty in a line that had already been played on quite a few occasions.

Here Black's 13...Bd7! turns out to be a good choice and led to him obtaining an excellent game, despite the fact that (as you can see in the notes) I think that White missed an improvement on move sixteen.

Of the alternatives, both 13...Nc6 and 13...g5 strike me as unconvincing, whereas the main move 13...Na6! seems fine, and with which Black even has a plus score.

Recently, the whole approach with 5.Bg5 Ne4 6.cxd5 has been out of fashion, but it's worth sifting through the archives (on ChessPublishing, of course. Where else?) to make sure you can remember the move-order subtleties in the play that follows.

Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bf4 0-0 6.Rc1 dxc4 7.e4 c5 [D92]

In Bai Jinshi - Khanin, S White's 9.Nd2 is an old, but not at all bad, idea:

Over the next few moves, the loose c-pawns came off and both sides pursued development. The general impression in such scenarios is that Black just has to be careful about his exposed queen, but otherwise should be OK.

The novelty, when it came, involved Black choosing to go to d8 on move thirteen with the other rook (13...Rad8 rather than the known 13...Rfd8) and this seems to be adequate for equality, with the advantage of avoiding the complications that have previously followed from 13...Rfd8 14.Nd5.

A few moves later, Black was perhaps too optimistic about his chances and should have settled for solidity rather than opting for trickery.

Till next month, Glenn Flear

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