The Grünfeld Defence is a very dynamic opening with an excellent reputation and the list of players ready to defend it reads like a who's who in chess. It is rather remarkable, that one variation still retains the position of main line and that after hundreds of games played with it some questions still remain open. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.Be3 0-0 10.0-0 promises White a very compact and solid pawn centre well supported by the pieces. Black is unable to destroy this main asset of the opponent, but can certainly try to undermine it with clever play.
Grandmaster Ftacnik sets about explaining the current situation of the theoretical battles in several of the key lines which are typically employed against White’s magnificent centre. Interestingly enough, there has been quite a lot of development with the long-known positional exchange sacrifice 10…Bg4 11.f3 Na5 12.Bd3 cxd4 13.cxd4 Be6 14.d5 Bxa1 15.Qxa1. The attack against the black king will be very dangerous, but with exact play the defender can hold equality. The idea 11.f3 Na5 12.Bxf7+ Rxf7 13.fxg4 has lost some of its venom as Black can seek positional compensation despite the missing pawn. Yet not every second player is ready to defend an unbalanced, risky situation despite extra material, and current practice often avoids extremes. Therefore much attention has been devoted to the line 10...Na5 11.Bd3 b6 with the aim to complete development in a natural way. Finally the author claims that the modern approach to the safe line of 10…Qc7 11.Rc1 Rd8 is closely linked with the modest but clever move …Bd7. This can be played on the 11th or even 10th move - 10…Bd7 11.Rb1 Qc7 - when 12.Nf4!? might be somewhat unpleasant. The popularity of the line for White is not surprising as it offers very solid play based on a healthy asset of strong central pawns. Fortunately for Black, the development of the white pieces is not especially flexible so that he has some time to generate counterplay in the centre. The promising thing is that there are several possible plans at his disposal, but this also clouds the answer to the simple question - which line is the best? The verdict is still open, and adherents of the Grünfeld Defence can even vary their choice according to the needs of the specific game. The options range from the principled older lines with 10…Bg4, which are more risky, to solid defence with the traditional 10…Qc7 11.Rc1 Rd8 all the way to the more recent ideas of 10...Na5 or the clever 10…Bd7.
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