Whatever the terminology, there are two games from the Classical Variation this time. White doesn't always fianchetto his king's bishop as can be seen in Game 2.
In Game One Agdestein combines a number of interesting ideas to win a pleasant game with Black, although White had drawing chances until near the end. Most of the play only indirectly involved a kingside attack which perhaps demonstrates that there are alternatives to plonking the black queen on g5 or h5 in the Classical!
In Game Two Williams shows his usual penchant for seeing what mischief he can get up to on White's kingside. However Malakhatko prophylactically keeps his opponent at bay and when the centre opens up Black's pieces prove to be hopelessly misplaced. A warning for those who play the Dutch with only kingside attacking in mind!
In Game Three White is again successful with 3 f3:
but not in the usual way. Delchev wins a nice positional game due to the concession ...f5-f4 that, on the plus side, enabled the defence of the kingside to be successful, but at the cost of leaving Black with serious difficulties in the endgame. Should Black really go for 3...d5 ? I've previously suggested 3...Nc6 as an interesting alternative although there have been very few games.
After the moves 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5, many players have recently been attracted by 4 Bg5. After 4...Ne4 5 Bh4!? Nxc3 6 bxc3 dxc4 7 e3 Be6, Black often attempts to hold onto the gambit pawn despite falling behind in development:
This fashionable line has received interest at all levels in the previous few months. The theory hasn't yet crystallized and home preparation may yet create a surprise or two, but I think Black is more than OK. Games 4 to 6 illustrate some of the latest developments.
Sutovsky met 8 Rb1 with the rarer 8...Nd7 in Game Four and seemed to almost coast to victory. Tiger's attempts to destabilize Black's position lacked bite but capturing on b7 didn't pay for Tim Reilly against Zhao Zong either (see the notes). So is 8...Nd7 going to put 8 Rb1 out of business?
In Game Five Black was also successful against 8 Rb1, this time with the more conventional 8...b6. It seems that Black players are then generally well prepared for 9 Nf3 as the second player has been scoring heavily from this position. This may explain Pedersen's choice of the interesting 9 Nh3. In the game Black navigated the opening phase rather well and emerged with a clear pawn to the good, so further investigations will probably concentrate on 10 e4 rather than 10 Bg5.
White's 8 Qb1 is looked at in Game Six, where Vachier-Lagrave improves with 12...Bg7 and obtains a comfortable game. In fact he was soon better and may have regretted 'only drawing', so White needs an improvement somewhere. My impression is that 8 Qb1 is best met by 8...Qd5.
Overall White hasn't been successful with 4 Bg5 in these games so I'm concluding that the honeymoon period is over and that white players will soon lose their affection for the move altogether.
In Game 7 Yandemirov wins with a line that he has played often and successfully over the years. This represents another demonstration of Black's resources in the 9...b6 defence to 8 Rb1 which has featured a few times in this column in recent months. In the game, White failed to obtain an opening advantage and Yandemirov showed good technique to simplify to a favourable ending. Dearing's enthusiasm for 17 Qc2 (keeping the queens) is perhaps appropriate in that Black has then to defend more accurately, but in the notes the game Gladyzsev-Yandemirov may show the way for Black to equalize.
It has to be said that Konstantin Sakaev has an important influence over the development of theory in the Grünfeld, especially from White's point of view. In Game 7 it was a Sakaev game that led to 17 Qc2 being considered dangerous (Sakaev, K - Zilberstein, V St.Petersburg 1995) and in Game Eight Kornev uses Sakaev's improvement 14 Nxe4! to gain the advantage against Yandemirov:
Yandemirov suffers a set-back here but there are possible improvements for him such as 15...b6 to enable him (and followers) to resuscitate the early ...Nc6 with ...Be6 plan. Believe it or not, Game 9 also follows you-know-who's analysis!
In Game Nine Hillarp Persson demolishes his opponent's defences, thanks no doubt to studying Sakaev's analyses! This game is symptomatic of the problems that Black is suffering after 10...Bd7 and unless he can find another way of playing I can't recommend the move. Hermansson seemed to play logical moves but just ended up in a miserable position.
The final game illustrates how Black can get counterplay against the minority attack in the 4 Nf3 and 5 Bg5 line. Note Black's pawn advances with ...f5, ...g5, ...f4 and even ...g4 on the kingside and the ...b6 followed by ...c5 break-out on the queenside.
Kornev plays well to obtain an advantage before making a slip that could have allowed his opponent a chance to escape.
In the opening phase of Game Ten 8...h6, as played, is the safest way for Black:
Till next time,