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Download PGN of February '05 Daring Defences games

e-mail bag

The e-mail bag features some questions about the Grünfeld. The first involves a sharp line of the Neo-Grünfeld that has seen some coverage in the last couple of years. Franck Steenbekkers has correctly assertained that White can avoid an early repetition, but then although the position seems very rich I can't find a clear way for White to claim an advantage. Maybe you can do better?

The second couple of questions relate to White playing Bg5 early in the Exchange Grünfeld. I've already covered 6 Bg5 explaining that Black has found some good defences, so this just constitutes a handy reminder. As for the more obscure 7 Bg5, Black obtained an adequate position by playing ...h6 and ...Qa5. After the exchange of queens the 'extra' move ...h6 (compared to some analogous lines) is a bonus rather than a weakness. So nothing here to worry Grünfeld practitioners.

Benko Gambit

The same can't be said about the Benko that seems to be suffering these days. Dreev has been successful in the 5 b6 e6 line before against experienced Spanish GM Juan Bellon.

Here in Game 4 he convincingly dominates Pia Cramling with a quick Bc1-d2-c3 against which Black hasn't yet found a path to full equality.

The Dutch Defence

Cherniaev grasps the initiative early in Game five and wins a fine game against Peter Sowray in this British league game. His king side pressure was based on the controversial sacrifice ...f5-f4 against which White could have defended better, quite frankly. This example is less a theoretical duel more an example of the potential in Black's set-up if it's handled in a 'daring' fashion.

Bosboom-Lanchava employs an excellent idea of Bartel in her encounter with Zhukova (see Game Six) and obtains a good, if not excellent game.

The diagram is after 12...d5. Black has a fine game. I can't explain why she didn't simply recapture on c6 when she would have all the chances, instead a rush of blood to the head with 21...Qf5? led to her swift downfall.

Grünfeld Defence

Although Volkov's pet-line 7 Qa4+ caused some inconvenience in Gurevich-L'Ami (Game Seven) I suspect that White's 'attack' wasn't very dangerous. Black held firm and gradually outplayed his opponent although he almost let it slip at the end. Gurevich probably chose this variation as Blacks best counter hasn't yet crystallized and here L'Ami's 10...b6 was a fair try but too many uncertainties remain as to it's true value.

In Game Eight Sutovsky tried the latest quirk after 10...Bd7 11 Rb1, that is 11...Qc7:

The truth is that he probably wasn't too happy how the opening panned out, but must have been ultimately relieved to escape with a draw. The bishop outpost on d5 gave White the advantage so it could be that Avrukh's less committal 12...Qc8 may be a better try.

The quiet system with an early B-g5 and then playing for a positional edge akin to the QGD Exchange Variation is too slow for some Grünfeld players who find this a real pain to defend. However in Game Nine Nyback shows that Black has a perfectly adequate game and chances for kingside play, so 9...a5 nibs in the bud the normal b-pawn 'minority attack' push. As this all looks so limp for the first player I suggest that White players investigate the more complicated 8 Qd2!?:

In Game ten Stocek played a nice aggressive game which seems to flow nicely from the start. However coming to the following position:

What had he in mind against 12 Bxf7+, or perhaps 12 e6 fxe6 13 Nb5, both of which create problems for Black?

So before adding this line to your arsenal I suggest that you try and find something playable for Black, particularly after 12 Bxf7+. I for one couldn't!

Blumenfeld Counter-Gambit

Volokitin's recent experiences in the accepted form of the Gambit are covered in Game 11. He prefers 6...d5 to 6...Bb7 but has varied his play after that.

Nikolic was unable to find a good plan against the Ukrainian's direct 7...a6. Indeed overall in the three high-level game references featuring Volokitin Black had good chances in each case, suggesting that Black is OK as things stand in the Blumenfeld Accepted.

No wonder tactical players are showing renewed interest in this opening! See recent updates for how things stand in the Declined, but Volokitin has in recent months shown some promising ways of handling that too.


Till next time,

Glenn Flear

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