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It's just the Grünfeld this time, but quite a variety of variations come under the spotlight below.

Download PGN of September ’17 Daring Defences games

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Grünfeld 4.Bg5 Ne4 5.Bh4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 dxc4 [A80]

In Tari, A - Suarez Uriel, A Black captured the offered pawn on c4, but soon gave it back whilst obtaining reasonable development. The notable manoeuvre in the opening was Ng1-h3-f4 where the knight is generally quite well positioned, but for tactical reasons it turned out to be suspect here:

One could conclude that White's queenside adventure with his queen doesn't work well in combination with his knight hopping, but another possible thought is that Black has found an antidote to the N-h3 phenomena. This is hardly a surprise, because as a rule, unnatural moves only have a limited lifespan when it comes to opening fashion.

Grünfeld Exchange 7.Nf3 c5 8.h3 [D85]

Nikita Vitiugov has found a way of bringing new life to a line where previously White was not really getting anywhere. In Vitiugov, N - Kulaots, K the following position was reached:

Here the Russian played 14.a5! after which Black has to either capture (and give himself rotten a-pawns) or be faced with annoying tension on the queenside with White having most of the options. Kulaots duly captured and eventually lost both a-pawns. The 5 vs. 4 on the right hand flank may not be an objective win, but Black had a miserable defensive task and not surprisingly he eventually went down.

The encounter Parligras, M - Puranik, A is the longest game this month by some way. The idea of developing with ...b6 is not so unusual in many of these positions, but here Black didn't choose the best moment and the opening phase didn't go well for him. Facing an inferior middlegame, he tried his best to break-out, but the complications always seemed to be in White's favour. Even though White won a piece quite early the technical phase was a long drawn out affair, and it took 80 further moves to convert the advantage.

It looks like this 8.h3 system has a future!

Grünfeld Exchange 7.Nf3 c5 8.Rb1 0-0 9.Be2 b6 [D85]

I like the finish in Mamedyarov, S - Nepomniachtchi, I where White sacrifices his queen in a surprising manner. In fact, a close look at the tactics suggests that there might have been a way for him to play for more than a draw. As to the opening, of some theoretical importance, White obtains a lead in development.

An analysis of this game, and one or two others, suggests that Black is not doing too badly, but White retains a slight initiative.

Grünfeld Exchange 7.Nf3 c5 8.Be3 [D85]

The game Vorontsov, P - Mchedlishvili, M involves a theoretical line that Mchedlishvili has played a few times:

A few years ago I even gave White's 12.c4 a ?! sign. Cert, this might have been a bit negative, but it still scores rather poorly compared to the alternatives. Here, the Georgian GM was able to obtain a decent position and was never in danger, but maybe Black could have played a bit more ambitiously.

For most of this encounter, White makes a few gestures to try and exploit his 'exchange for a pawn advantage', but Black was clearly too solid.

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

White didn't seem to do anything wrong in Gaifullin, A - Kokarev, Dm and yet he was ground down in convincing style. The big problem was that White didn't have a particularly positive plan whereas Black's queenside play proved effective. A warning for anyone who plays too passively!

As to the opening, White's 11.f3 turns out to be new, but slow, and can't be recommended. Instead 11.Rc1 and 11.Qd2 are more active, and capturing on c5 with 11.dxc5 is still a rather tricky line, but for that you'll have to check the archives!

Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4 [D90]

It was interesting to see how an elite player reacted to 5.h4. In El Gindy, E - Grischuk, A Black was quite cautious and sought safe equality starting with the calm 5...c6:

It looks as if this game really shows a good way to nullifying White's attacking ambitions.

Later, White's slightly shaky structure gave Black a good game, but perhaps not enough to make a real difference until White blundered a pawn. Then, as one would expect, Grischuk didn't make any mistakes in converting his advantage.

Grünfeld 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bg5 Ne4 6.Bf4 [D91]

The opening in Moiseenko, A - Huzman, A doesn't look that great, but there is nevertheless an impression that White has a nagging edge. Sometimes the difference between super GMs and the rest of us is that they are good at picking out '0.00 positions' that are harder to play for the opposition!

Maybe Caruana's 10...Nd7 with ...Nb6 and ...c4 in mind is a more combative way of challenging White's centre than Huzman's 10...b6, as Black then obtains the d5-square for his knight. Otherwise, 10...cxd4 followed by 11...Qa5+ has been played, but doesn't seem to equalize completely.

I wasn't keen on Black's idea of ceding the bishop pair in the featured game but it did lead to a tough battle. White's endgame technique was sufficiently in tune to earn him the full point.

Grünfeld Russian System, Prins Variation 7.e4 Na6 8.Be2 c5 [D97]

In Hillarp Persson, T - Gritsak, O Black was on the defensive throughout but missed a chance to turn the tables in the time scramble. The opening went quite well for the first player, as Black was unable to cause any disruption to White's bind.

Gritsak innovated with the restrained 13...Bd7, a choice that has been successful in some analogous positions but here Carlsen's choice of 13...Bf5 looks more trustworthy, even if it might not equalize completely. I'm not quite sure why the Prins (7...Na6) isn't as popular as in previous times, maybe interest has just strayed elsewhere.

Grünfeld Russian System 7.e4 Be6 [D97]

I was sent a correspondence/e-mail game (what's the difference these days?) played by a subscriber illustrating an exciting game where the ...Be6; Qd3 theme occurred. You might remember my loss to Li Chao that I analyzed in the June 2017 update. Although the featured game harks back to 2015 it does contain some new ideas (to ChessPublishing), especially the ambitious long castling employed by White.

A complicated struggle panned out in White's favour in Jendrian, M - Churkin, M where Black's error isn't so obvious to pick out. Theoretically, posing the question to the bishop with 10...h6 (getting White to decide early) is standard, and has been the choice by OTB GMs and might ultimately prove to be a better option than the novel 10...Qb6.

Till next month, Glenn Flear

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