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Again, the Grünfeld which is no surprise any more as it's a very popular opening. This time we have novelties everywhere, and it seems that Aronian has picked up the Grünfeld in his main repertoire demonstrating interesting ideas in the recently finished American Cup.

Download PGN of March ’24 Daring Defences games

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Grünfeld Defence 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 0-0 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.Nxd5 Qxd5 8.Bxc7 Nc6 [D84]

In Baldauf, M- Ragger, M, TCh-AUT 2023-24, we have a traditional bishop to f4 line, so after 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 0-0 White decided to take a pawn with 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.Nxd5 Qxd5 8.Bxc7 Nc6 9.Ne2 Bg4 10.f3 Bf5!?:

A rare but interesting line. It is too early to tell how to evaluate this attempt but in the game Black didn’t have any problems.

Grünfeld Exchange 7.Qa4+ Nd7 [D85]

In the game Shevchenko, Kirill - Vachier Lagrave, M, Bundesliga 2023-24, White opted for a less forced but interesting line 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Qa4+:

MVL launched an interesting novelty, easily solving his problems.

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

Dubov, Daniil - Giri, A, 5th Shenzhen Longgang Shenzhen, was like game 2 till move 7, but now White opted for 7.Nf3 c5 8.Bb5+ Nc6 9.0-0 0-0 10.Bxc6 bxc6 11.Qc2 cxd4 12.cxd4 Bg4 13.Ne5 Qxd4 14.Bb2 Qb6 15.Rab1 Bxe5 16.Bxe5 Qa5 17.Bc3 Qc5:

This is one of the main positions here and, again, in a few moves another novelty was played, Black didn’t cope well and lost easily.

I have covered this line in almost every update and I think for good reason as it's not at all easy to find a clear antidote to this line, and in tournament practice it is even worse.

Exchange Grünfeld 8.Be3 Bg4 9.Qa4+ Nd7 [D85]

Now, Donchenko, Alexa - Ragger, M, TCh-AUT 2023-24, was the same opening in game 3 till move 8 when White went for 9.Be3 Bg4:

This is not a usual response but it is known. White introduced a novelty on move 14, Black didn’t react well and lost convincingly.

Exchange Grünfeld 7.Be3 c5 8.Nf3 Qa5 9.Qd2 Nc6 [D85]

Once again, Sevian, Samuel - Aronian, L, American Cup Champ Saint Louis, featured the same line as in the previous game, but here Black opted for 9...Qa5 10.Qd2 Nc6 11.Rb1 a6 12.Rc1 cxd4 13.cxd4 Qxd2+ 14.Kxd2 e6:

This endgame is perhaps a bit overestimated; it is true that White has some initial pressure, but if Black can regroup as in this game, then we will have balanced play. A very interesting game.

Exchange Grünfeld 7.Bc4 a6 [D86]

After 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 in Robson, R - Aronian, L, American Cup Champ Saint Louis, and the next game, Aronian faced this position and in this game tried a not new, but surely completely forgotten possibility 7...a6!?:

In the game Black didn’t face any problems from a theoretical point of view, but it is impossible to draw an early conclusion.

Exchange Grünfeld 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Ne2 Nc6 [D86]

Caruana, F - Aronian, L, American Cup Champ Saint Louis, started as in game 6 till move 7, but now Black went for the standard 7...0-0 8.Ne2 Nc6:

An old line but a very interesting one. The game was very gripping and sharp with lots of possibilities.

Grünfeld Defence 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4 0-0 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.h5 [D90]

Here, in Caruana, F - Aronian, L, American Cup Champ Saint Louis, we have another game with sharp h2-h4 type of play and an improvement for Black compared to my coverage in the November update. After 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4 0-0 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.h5 Nxc3 8.bxc3 c5 9.hxg6 hxg6 10.Bh6 Bxh6 11.Rxh6 Kg7 12.Qd2:

Now Black found a different route for his knight and achieved good play. After the further 12...cxd4 13.cxd4 Black introduced the novelty 13...Nd7!?, achieving counterplay.

Till next month, Best wishes Milos.

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