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This month we have a variety of openings, and for the first time since I took over from Glenn, I have included the Benko. In games 1 and 2 we deal with an interesting English Defence, games 3and 4 are about the Benko, and rest of the update (games 4-8) involve the very popular Grünfeld. Let’s have a deeper look.

Download PGN of January ’24 Daring Defences games

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English Defence 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.Nf3 [A40]

In Krasenkow, M - Lambrechts, K, 59th Groningen Open 2023, we have an interesting practical set up that comes after the following moves: 3.e4 Bb7 4.Bd3 Nc6, the idea is to go with a knight to b4 next, gaining the bishop pair.

White remains with more space but Black has a bishop pair, and in general, its playable for both. In the game Black didn't experience any problems.

English Defence 3.a3 Bb7 4.Nc3 f5 5.d5 Nf6 6.g3 Bd6 [A40]

In Harshavardhan, G B - Grischuk, A, Titled Tue 16th Jan 2024, we see an interesting main plan for Black when White goes for a3 ideas, 3.a3 Bb7 4.Nc3 f5. It’s a mixture of everything, and it's an important position for all those who like to play the English Defence, full of possibilities.

The game itself was fascinating and complicated. Readers will also find other intriguing games inside the notes.

Benko Gambit 5.e3 Bb7 6.Nc3 Qa5 7.Bd2 [A57]

Dreev, A - Bologan, V, World Blitz 2023 Samarkand UZB, features an important position that arises after 4.cxb5 a6 5.e3 Bb7 6.Nc3 Qa5 7.Bd2 axb5 8.Bxb5 Qb6:

I analyzed some recent games in this position here and unless Black can come up with something strong, the games itself are not inspiring for Black. In this actual game Black quickly got into trouble.

Benko Accepted with Kxf1, 12.a4 Ra6 13.Qc2 Qa8 14.Ra3 [A59]

Here, in Bluebaum, M - Christiansen, J, Titled Tue 16th Jan 2024, we have what is considered the Main line of the Benko. So, after the initial moves: 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.e4 Bxf1 8.Kxf1 d6 9.Nf3 Bg7 10.g3 0-0 11.Kg2 Nbd7 White opted for the main plan that starts with 12.a4. This is the modern treatment, and it seems that Black is still struggling to find a good plan against this set up.

In this game Black didn’t even come close to getting any counterplay.

Exchange Grünfeld 5.Bd2 Bg7 6.e4 Nxc3 7.Bxc3 0-0 8.Qd2 c5 9.d5 [D85]

We start with the following line: 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5.Bd2 Bg7 6.e4 Nxc3 7.Bxc3 0-0 8.Qd2 c5 9.d5 Bxc3 10.bxc3 e6 11.Bc4 exd5 12.Bxd5 Nd7 13.Nf3 Nf6:

A well known position and it seems that in Royal, S - Gormally, D, 4NCL 2023-24, Black found a good way to hold the balance without difficulties.

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

In Bluebaum, M - Navara, D, Titled Tue 9th Jan 2024, we again have a very annoying line for Black after 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 8.Bb5+ Nc6 9.0-0 0-0 10.Bxc6 bxc6 11.Qc2:

An unpleasant line that I already covered, but this game is a bit of a refreshment, perhaps a new chance for Black to hold the balance much more easily!? We will see in the future.

Exchange 7.Bc4, Seville Variation 14...Qd6 15.Kg1 Qd6 [D88]

Abdusattorov, N - Wei Yi, 86th Tata Steel Masters Wijk aan Zee 2024. This is good old stuff! The main line for many decades and a famous line from the Karpov-Kasparov match. After 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.Be3 0-0 10.0-0 Bg4 11.f3 Na5 12.Bxf7+ Rxf7 13.fxg4 Rxf1+ 14.Kxf1:

I have analyzed several recent games here and it seems that Black doesn’t easily find a path to equality. Although there are interesting plans for both sides, the position is easier to handle with White, in my opinion.

Grünfeld Defence 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4 dxc4 6.e4 0-0 7.Bxc4 c5 [D90]

In Indjic, A - Chirila, I, Titled Tue 16th Jan 2024, we have the very sharp line: 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4 dxc4 6.e4:

I have analyzed recent games here, in the notes. it’s really complicated, a great line for those seeking such chess. The game itself was not at all challenging for Black.

Till next month, best wishes Milos.

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