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This month represents the third full year of Daring Defences input from me. I've decided to concentrate uniquely on the Grünfeld Defence this time (the first time in 36 columns!) as quite a few lines have seen developments this summer.

As a sidenote: I'm never quite sure whether 'Daring Defences' or 'Dynamic Defences' is really the most appropriate name for this column. Whereas the Albin or 1...b6 are really quite 'daring', the mainstream Grünfeld is better given the 'dynamic' label!

Download PGN of September '05 Daring Defences games

Grünfeld Defence

The idea of playing an early B-g5 and, after Black's ...N-e4, dropping back to h4 has recently become popular. This can be seen in Games 1 and 9.

In Game 1 Black held onto the pawn and White obtained vague attacking chances. It's was messy and neither side could have felt that comfortable, but I suspect that Black was doing well.

In Game Nine (with N-f3 which gives it a different ECO code) and in the notes to Game 1 we can see examples of Black returning the c-pawn for a quieter time. Here play is different with White keeping a nominal pull despite (or should I write 'especially after') the exchange of queens as the pressure on e7 is a nuisance for Black. Seeing Sutovsky go down, and frankly seem so ordinary against a player rated 150 points less, demonstrates that Black players shouldn't underestimate the difficulties.

So Black has a choice against this theme: Safety at the costs of a slight disadvantage, or, defending against gambit play with unclear consequences.

In the Diagram position from Game 2 Mamedyarov introduced 14 Bg5 instead of the previously played 14 Bxe5. White won the exchange and was able to extricate his knight from the corner but Eljanov defended accurately and should have drawn. I imagine that the novelty won enough time on the clock to lead Black astray, but it's not yet clear if it's any better than 14 Bxe5. Only further tests will be able to help us decide.

Although Korchnoi-McShane in Game 3 rapidly exits known theory, the choice of opening may be influenced by developments highlighted in the notes. It seems that 8 h3 offers nothing in this line whereas against 8 f4 Black should be careful about following Gleizerov-Belov as the virtually unknown Fodor has found an important improvement. Objectively Korchnoi's 12 h4 is not bad, but came across as risky in the face of McShane's vigorous counterplay inaugurated by the fine move 13...e5:

In Game 4 Lupulescu playing Black seems to effortlessly obtain the advantage against a positional exchange sacrifice from White. His improvement 20...Bb7 basically makes White's play look incorrect and renders the whole line harmless. Rather than 14 Bd3, White could try 14 Bc5 but even this seems impotent due to 14...f5. This doesn't bode well for White at all, so what should he do? Perhaps 11 Rb1 is just nothing and he might have to fall back on the alternative 11 Rc1.

In Game five a couple of juniors showed great fighting qualities in this exciting game. White's 13 Rxb7 is generally considered to give him nothing:

However, my suggestion of 18 Qh6 (overlooked by previous theoreticians) needs a closer look as Black probably has nothing better than to give up the exchange. Black should quite clearly have won the game after the poor 18 Bf6, but he could never quite get himself organized and paid the price.

Ruck tries out a novelty on 8 Rb1-specialist Boris Avrukh in Game Six - here is the position after his new 16...b6:

It has to be said that this move has it's merits and the resulting game wasn't quite as one-sided as it seemed at first sight, as he certainly could have resisted better etc., etc.

However, having written all that, Black was never really able to get that close to equality and Ruck's idea will probably not be repeated. The plan of blocking the central pawns with 16...Bxf3 17 Bxf3 Qd6 is sound enough and will, in my opinion, be the focus of later research.

In Game 7 Vaisser wins in an ultra-sharp variation against Vachier-Legrave. However I don't personally believe in White's attack and you'll see a number of potential improvements in the text. Black, a piece to the good, did vary from known territory and seemed to be able to avoid any immediate tricks, only to get zugzwanged in the middlegame. A rare occurrence.

Game Eight is very one-sided as Najer makes short shrift of Black's attempt to delay ...c5 in the opening. The whole system with ...b6, ...Nc6-a5 and only then ...c5 is very risky for Black and not recommended. There are other, better ways of trying to avoid main lines!

Ian Rogers has been the strongest Australian for a generation or more and on his day can still beat some top class players. Here in Game 10 he grabs the exchange in the opening but finds himself tied down and unable to do much but avoid anything nasty happening. Although Timofeev obtained great compensation for his material it wasn't clear how he should get more than just a rock-solid blockade. The Russian finally chose the wrong moment to try and move over to attacking-mode and paid the price.

As for the consequences for theory: Rogers' approach does not really challenge the soundness of Timofeev's 10...e5:

However, if you don't feel comfortable playing the exchange down for just a few squares then 10...e6 looks good enough. The only question mark is over the rare 10 Qxf3 against which I'm not sure how Black should equalize. There must be a few people out there who know a thing or two, otherwise it would be more popular!

Game 11 is from an analogous variation to Game 2. Here the young Canadian master Roussel-Roozmon attempts to generate some life into a stodgy variation, but it soon becomes clear that 14 Nd5 is just inferior to 14 Bh4. Mikhalevski probably had an easier way to obtain the advantage but his queen sacrifice is instructive. In my opinion 9 Ne2 represents more fertile terrain for White to try and obtain a pull.

In Game 12 (as in Game 10) Black again sacrifices the exchange and obtains good compensation.

In this position (after 16 Bd6) Black's 16...Nc6! was correct and solved his opening problems. This seems to be an important theoretical development in a key line of the Hungarian Variation.

White then couldn't find anything special and was soon worse if not losing. In fact Black played a good game until falling for a scandalous trick which cost him the full point.

In four games in this update, the player who sacrificed the exchange went on to lose! This is of course a coincidence: In Game 2 the sacrifice isn't clear but probably OK, whereas in Game 4 I consider there to be insufficient compensation, but in Games 10 and 12 the sacrifices were sound and both cases offered at least equality.


Till next time,

Glenn Flear

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