ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
I received an e-mail from Chris in Germany who was interested to know my opinion about some unusual anti-Grünfeld ideas outlined in some SOS surveys (for those who don't know, Secrets of Opening Surprises, or SOS, features some tricky lines in a bi-annual series of books published by some of the New In Chess team). The truth is these ideas are nothing special once you have had a chance to look at them logically in your study. However meeting them over the board with the clock ticking away (and your opponent with a smug look on his face!) can be tough, so it's worth playing through my suggested antidotes to give yourself a better look at what's going on. See Games 11 & 12, at the end.

Download PGN of June '07 Daring Defences games

Benko Gambit

In our featured Benko game White's quiet opening doesn't look that dangerous and yet he obtained a big space advantage and went on to win. To improve on this passive handling of the defence I have made a few suggestions in the notes but simplest may be to avoid putting the knight on a6 (and then c7). So I recommend 5...bxc4 instead of 5...Na6 in the following position:

Check the notes to Game One to see what you think!

Albin Counter-Gambit

In Games 2 and 3 Black gets into difficulties whilst still in the opening. The moral of these examples is perhaps that even if the Albin is a 'surprise' weapon White is also capable of springing some new or offbeat replies that can create over-the-board problems for the gambiteer. In both cases a careful look at the notes will show Albin fans how to handle the opening better than Le Roux and Nakamura, the former of whom was crushed (Game Two) whereas the latter got lucky (Game 3).

So even if you like to avoid main lines and take your opponent into murky variations you still need to learn your stuff properly. I suggest having a good look at the 4 e4 of game 2, as it could well become more popular:

The positions White is obtaining from 4 Nf3 followed by 5 g3 haven't been that impressive of late.

The Neo-Grünfeld Defence

In the three games featuring this system Black emerges from the opening with a decent position in each case. This may be because of my choice of games but I don't believe that there are that many dangerous variations for Black in the Neo-Grünfeld (evidence of this is the relatively high number of draws that follow from g3 v ...d5).

I suspect that what attracts some players to taking on the white pieces regularly is that the subtlety of the move orders and thematic manoeuvres in analogous positions can get the less experienced player confused. So if you play like this all the time and your opponent only gets one Neo-Grünfeld a season he's more likely to go wrong!

Another advantage of the g3-systems versus the Grünfeld is that Black can sometimes get a decent position but lacks counterplay, so I've selected three games where Black handles the position in ways which give him interesting play.

In Game Four Roiz delays castling in order to get White to commit himself early in the centre. The result was that he was able to get his knight pair to good squares on d4 and d6.

In Game Five Navara plays very sensibly and is even able to obtain some advantage. His knight and queen manoeuvres being noteworthy.

Timofeev plays an idea that has been developed by Predojevic in Game 6 and takes the scalp of a certain Evgeny Bareev. In the following diagram position:

Black created imbalance by playing 13...c5! and obtaining a queenside majority. Bareev's response smacks of someone who was surprised by his opponent's plan. So it's not always White who knows best!

Grünfeld Defence

Milov again tries 7 Bg5 in the Exchange Variation in Game 7. In fact White has experimented with many piece dispositions with this typical pawn structure, but this is perhaps one of the least well-known. I don't think that Lalic was surprised and indeed Black seemed better after the opening but I suggest that you check in the notes for possible White improvements, particularly the game Lysyj-Sutovsky which is undoubtedly more critical.

The opening in Game 8 is analogous to several other variations and move orders in the traditional Exchange variation. Timofeev's handling (Mikhalevski's 13...Nc6! is a good move, as is the new 15...Be6) is noteworthy as he obtains the better game and shows that despite Sokolov's initiative there was nothing much to fear. Making over-riding conclusions against the early B-e3 system is however unwise as slight changes (R-b1 instead of R-c1, for instance) can change assessments and the appropriate choice of Black's plan in response.

Game 9 continues the saga of The Exchange Sacrifice Variation. Danin introducing two novelties in the same game! The first led to a transposition back to the key Topalov-Shirov game, the second varied with 29...Re8 (mentioned and recommended by me back in February) but the real new idea was 30...g5! after which Black was fine. Rakhmanov failed to adjust to the changing circumstances and soon went astray to his cost.

In Game 10 Perelshtyn follows Svidler in replying to the quiet 6 b4 line with an aggressive pawn push.

Here, after White's last move 7 Bb2, Black played 7...a5-a4!? It's still too early to say whether this sharp move is fully justified or not, but so far Black has done well with it. It has the point of freeing the a5-square in order to start active measures on the queenside and thus counter White's early pawn advance. The fact that this may cost Black a pawn may not be that important as Black gets plenty of play in return, this game being a good example!

Finally, we have the answer to the SOS questions from Chris, firstly 4 h4 v Grünfeld, and then in the following position:

There is Further SOS tries v Grünfeld.


Till next time, Glenn Flear

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