ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
This month a selection of ideas caught my eye involving various openings. In most of these, 'practical, non-theoretical' set-ups are employed, which is an approach that appeals to many who want to avoid their opponent's preparation. In particular, White can opt for all sorts of deviations in the Dutch to keep the opponent out of their chosen pet lines. Perhaps the moral of the month is that it's important to have ' a wide knowledge of varied set-ups and plans' rather than just concentrate on 'main line theory'.
In contrast (to the cat and mouse stuff), and for those that can't get enough of cutting-edge theory, there are a couple of direct Anti-Grünfelds where these days it's hard to get by without a good memory!

Download PGN of September ’19 Daring Defences games

>> Previous Update >>

English Defence 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.f3 [A40]

White soon went astray in Donchenko, Alexa - Tabatabaei, M and I wonder if this was something to do with Black's opening choice 5...e5:

How should White react to Black's dark-square attack: Grab the gambit pawn, advance to gain space, hold onto d4, or chase the b4-bishop? A wide choice, and one which may come down to style rather than objective merit. In the game, the inclusion of 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 gave the game a Nimzo-Indian feel, but Tabatabaei's 7...Ne7 and subsequent f-pawn advance left the position with a typical English Defence 'off-the beaten-path' complexity.

English Defence 4.Bd3 Bb4+ 5.Kf1 [A40]

In Barp, Alberto - Admiraal, M one of the main lines was tested, and indeed 4...Bb4+ 5.Kf1!? Be7 has featured in the games of a number of household names.

These days White's standard plan of g3 and Kg2 (to get the kingside sorted) is generally met with an early ...Bf6 and a timely ...c5 (to counter in the centre), as here. In the early middlegame, Black was able to undermine the white centre in an appropriate manner (see 18...b5) but then chose the wrong way to capture the d5-pawn, which made the difference between an edge to Black and a comfortable edge for White. Getting the strategy right is one thing, but the big secret is often in the detail.

Budapest Gambit 3...Ng4 4.e3 Nxe5 5.Nh3 [A52]

The calm plan of following 4.e3 with Ng1-h3-f4 was employed in Bajarani, U - Javanbakht, N. To meet this, the most convincing black plan is then to fianchetto his king's bishop, post his knights on e5 and c5 and then await developments:

A refinement that I recommend is to meet the threat of a possible Bxc5 with ...b6, so that Black has the possibility to recapture on c5 with the b-pawn. The examples that I've studied seem to demonstrate that this is important, but not everyone seems to have understood this, the featured game being a typical example of how things can go wrong if ...b6 is not played.

Dutch Defence 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 [A80]

In Pulvett, D - Rodriguez Vila, A White's 3.Nc3 is a line that has been played a fair deal (especially if we count transpositions), but has generally been overlooked by authors (including myself), so hopefully this game will plug a few gaps. Essentially, Black has a wide choice of set-ups in response, but it strikes me that the Stonewall makes the most sense as then the knight on c3 can easily find itself redundant if an early e4 advance is no longer on the cards. In the game, Black rather enthusiastically decided to grab a pawn, but his neglected development left him with serious difficulties. My suggestion is to play ...Be7 and ...0-0 against just about all white set-ups.

Dutch Defence 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.Be2 [A80]

My feeling after seeing Najer, E - Xie Jianjun is that the London System has to be taken seriously against the Dutch. So how to meet 2.Bf4? Well, a Leningrad response will suit some folk, but for those who like to play with ...e6 then a key position occurs after 2...Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.Be2:

I've considered 4...b6 before, but here I'm examining the alternatives. I frankly can't offer a clear all-encompassing solution as to how to meet this, but the notes reveal a number of plans that seem to be satisfactory. As to the main game, this felt more like a case of 'not being quite sure what to do' or perhaps 'letting White do what he wants'.

Dutch Defence 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nf3 g6 4.e3 [A84]

A plan with an early b2-b4 has been in fashion for many years against the Leningrad in the kingside fianchetto lines. Here in Nesterov, A - Najer, E White instead combined this with e2-e3, which is less well covered in theory, but has been employed by a few GMs with good results. White gains some space on the queenside which, at a later time, will perhaps enable him to push on gently with his advanced pawns without risking very much elsewhere. In the game, Black activated and went for kingside attacking options, obtained good play, and even spurned a draw by repetition. After that, White defended his kingside rather well and once the attack had stalled his queenside options helped him on his way to victory. My advice for black players is that whatever set-up suits your style, the case for including ...a5 at some point is usually rather strong.

Dutch Defence 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.Qc2 [A85]

In Raja, R - Maghsoodloo, P White tried 7.d5 which is the most forcing of his options:

Capturing on d5 leads to an assymetric structure, which often seems to be potentially favourable for White, that is if he can catch up in development before losing control. In the game, White innovated on move twelve (see 12.Bc4) but this doesn't look like an improvement over 12.Bb5 which has been played a couple of times. Overall, I think that 7...exd5 is OK for the second player, but I also quite like the more obscure 7...Na6. From the latter part of the struggle it was clear that, of the two players, Maghsoodloo had the better endgame technique!

Anti-Grünfeld 3.f3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nb6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 e5 [D70]

A highly sharp struggle occurred in Ding Liren - Mamedyarov, S where 20.Qe1 is of particular interest, as White has been scoring well from this position:

I've already considered 20.Re1 for ChessPublishing, but the queen move looks more of a challenge. Following 20...Rc5, Ding introduced a novelty 21.Bd2, which bolsters the defences making any exchange sacrifices on c3 look dubious. My suggestion, as to how Mamedyarov could have improved his game, is after the further moves 21...Be6 22.e5!? when I think that 22...Na4! is a better try than capturing on e5. Maybe the best advice of all that I can give is that any preparation in these lines, even with an engine, has to be undertaken with care. Don't trust the silicon assessments to the cost of your own instincts, as I noticed that on my computer the analysis engine seems to change his mind quite a lot!

Anti-Grünfeld 3.f3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nb6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 [D70]

Black chose an unusual knight move in Koneru, H - Ni Shiqun as the retreat to a7 hasn't been seen very often before:

Following 15.Nge2 Nb5 I like Koneru's novelty 16.h4, but I think that Black's reply wasn't so great, so I prefer 16...e6 to Ni's 16...Nc4 after which White won with a crushing attack.

Although 14...Na7 might ultimately be shown to be playable, it looks more difficult to handle than the better known alternatives 14...Na5 and 14...Ne5.

Blumenfeld Gambit Declined 5.Bg5 b4 [E10]

Alberto David got lucky in Ikonnikov, Vy - David, Alb as he won due to his opponent's big blunder. The 5...b4 Declined lines can lead to closed manoeuvring, such as here, but along the way Black has to be careful about some tricky tactics involving an early e4-e5 by White. In those cases where the queenside becomes totally blocked like here, then play inevitably takes place on the right-hand side of the board. As White has more space in the centre, this might seem to suit him, but it's generally hard for him to make any progress without taking some risks. Ikonnikov, did indeed press and achieved a great deal which might put some Blumenfelders off playing in this manner as Black. White could have broken through decisively at 'at least' one moment, but this was perhaps down to some inaccurate play just before move forty, rather than a lack of soundness in Black's system.

Till next month, Glenn Flear

>> Previous Update >>

If you have any questions, either leave a message on the Daring Defences Forum, or subscribers can email me at