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This month I analyzed various openings, from a sharp Albin to a solid Fianchetto against the Grunfeld. The first three games are in the English Defence, and after the Albin there are four games in various lines in the Grunfeld.

Download PGN of December ’23 Daring Defences games

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English Defence 1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6 3.e4 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Bxd2+ 5.Qxd2 d5 [A40]

In Petrov, N - Pastar, S European Rapid 2023 Zagreb, after the initial moves White played 4.Bd2 Bxd2+ 5.Qxd2 and Black replied 5...d5!?:

This is a very interesting way for Black and so I decided to analyze three games here. In game 1 White played 6.cxd5 exd5 7.e5 but didn’t achieve anything and Black took over the initiative.

In the 2nd game, Goryachkina, A - Tomashevsky, E , Chess Stars 3.0 Rapid Moscow, White responded with 6.Nc3 but after 6...dxe4 7.Nxe4 Bb7 she failed to find a good way to achieve any advantage, as in game one, and again Black came out on top.

In the next game, Malek, Jan - Madaminov, Mukhiddin 4th elllobregat Open 2023 Sant Boi, White opted for a third option, that might even be best, 6.Bd3. Black replied with 6...Ba6 and after this rather unusual opening phase we come to this position:

In the game Black managed to find an active way to keep counterplay. Of course, I analyzed more alternatives in the game notes where readers will find some interesting ideas.

Albin Counter-Gambit 3.dxe5 Ne7 [D08]

Here, in Prestia, Paris - Csonka, B Titled Tue, I decided to make a file on this surprising idea, and it did surprise me, as well, that Black actually has interesting chances.

This line is for those who like gambit type play and want to try early deviations to catch their opponents off guard rather quickly.

Anti-Grünfeld 3.f3, 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 Qd6 10.Nb5 [D70]

In the Grünfeld section we will see various different lines.

We start our survey of the Grünfeld with 3.f3 and in Caruana, F - Vachier Lagrave, M CCT Final Playoff 2023 Toronto CAN, after 3...d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nb6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 Qd6:

Black didn’t come well prepared and got into trouble, this line is interesting for White.

Neo-Grünfeld 6...dxc4 7.Na3 c5 8.dxc5 c3 [D77]

In game 6 and 7 we are now in Fianchetto line, or Neo-Grünfeld, territory. After the initial moves 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 0-0 5.Bg2 d5 6.0-0, in Svane, R - Sarana, A Titled Tue, we will investigate 6...dxc4 7.Na3 c5 8.dxc5 c3:

A very solid line for Black in which he came up with a new idea, and a good one, too.

Neo-Grünfeld with ...c6, 6.0-0 0-0 7.Qb3 a5 [D78]

In Dardha, Daniel - Kadric, D Bundesliga 2023-24, compared to the previous game Black played 6...c6, a very solid line, and White replied with another solid option here, 7.Qb3. Following the popular continuation 7...a5 8.Rd1 a4 9.Qb4 we come to this position:

In these latest games Black somehow failed to get easy play, not even any active chances. It's just not enough to push a pawn without having a strong plan behind it.

Grünfeld Exchange 8.Bb5+ Nc6 9.0-0 0-0 10.Bxc6 bxc6 11.Qc2 [D85]

In Hakobyan, Aram - Duda, J, Titled Tue, after the initial moves 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 8.Bb5+ Nc6 9.0-0 0-0 10.Qc2 we come to this modern line that I have already analyzed a few times, and it seems that it is still creating serious problems for Black. It reminds me of the early days of the famous 8.Rb1 in the Eighties which was very problematic for Grunfeld players for a time.

In this game White played a less analyzed line, but a very dangerous one nonetheless, and won with ease. Perhaps some of the alternatives that I give in the notes are better choices overall.

Till next month, best wishes Milos.

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