Grünfeld Defense - How to Play the d-pawn Openings - The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

Book Eight

How to Play the d-pawn Openings

Grünfeld Defense

In this Indian defense, Black combines the fianchetto of this dark-square bishop with …d5. As a rule, Black’s d-pawn disappears quickly, allowing White to set up an impressive pawn center.

To make up for White’s advantage in this respect, Black must concentrate on agile maneuvers with his pieces. In some cases, he can hit back at White’s center with …c5. At all times Black must be prepared to put his dark-square bishop to good use along the long diagonal.

(a) Exchange Variation

Grünfeld Defense

White - Black

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5

White sets out at once to build up a pawn center. After the quiet alternative 4.e3 Bg7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Qb3 e6 7.Bd2 b6 Black fianchettoes his other bishop with a good game.

4…Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 c5! (D)


Position after 6…c5!

Black loses no time in hitting at White’s powerful pawn center. Black will immediately intensify the pressure with …Bg7.

7.Bc4 Bg7 8.Ne2!

The more aggressive-looking 8.Nf3 allows a future pin by …Bg4.

8…0-0 9.0-0 cxd4 10.cxd4 Nc6 11.Be3 (D)


Position after 11.Be3

A crucial position, as Black must now be prepared to demonstrate the effectiveness of his pressure on the center pawns.

11…Na5! 12.Bd3 Nc6!

Thus Black establishes equality. White must guard his d-pawn, and if 13.Bc4 Na5 etc. threatens to repeat moves indefinitely. If 13.Bc2 b6 intending 14…Nb4 15.Bb3 Ba6 with an excellent game for Black.

(b) Russian System

Grünfeld Defense

White - Black

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 (D)


Position after 5.Qb3

White insists on clearing up the position in the center. As 5…e6 or 5…c6 would be rather passive, Black gives up the center in the hope of getting active play for his pieces.

5…dxc4 6.Qxc4 0-0

As in the previous variation, White now creates an imposing pawn center.

7.e4 Bg4

Black attacks the knight which guards the d-pawn.

8.Be3 Nfd7 9.Qb3 Nb6 (D)


Position after 9…Nb6

White’s d-pawn is under pressure, now that the black king knight has unmasked the diagonal of Black’s fianchettoed bishop. However, White has ample resources.

10.Rd1 Nc6 11.d5 Ne5 12.Be2 Nxf3+ 13.gxf3 Bh3

White has considerably more maneuvering space for his pieces, and after 14.Rg1 Qc8 15.f4! Bd7 16.f5! he has a formidable attack.

(c) 4.Bf4 Variation

Grünfeld Defense

White - Black

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 0-0! (D)


Position after 5.0-0

Black’s last move amounts to a gambit, as White can now win a pawn. However, Black’s threats assure him adequate compensation.

After 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.Nxd5 Qxd5 8.Bxc7 White has won a pawn. However, Black gets a very strong game with 8…Na6! for example 9.Bg3 Bf5 (threatens 10…Nb4) 10.a3 Rac8 with a view to …Rc2. Also possible is 9.Bxa6 bxa6 when White’s most prudent course is 10.Nf3, allowing Black to regain the pawn with 10…Qb7. If instead 10.Qf3 Qb5!! when 11.Qxa8 will not do because of 11…Qxb2 12.Rd1 Qc3+ 13.Rd2 Bg4! and wins.

6.Rc1 c5! 7.dxc5 Be6!

Black stands well despite the pawn minus, for example 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Nxd5 Bxd5 10.b3 Qa5+ 11.Qd2 Qxd2+ 12.Kxd2 Rd8 etc.

Summary: White should rely on his pawn center, while Black should strive for utmost mobility. Variation (b) favors White, while the other two lines are satisfactory for Black.

(d) Neo-Grünfeld Defense

Neo-Grünfeld Defense

White - Black

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 (D)


Position after 5…Nxd5

White plans to get a powerful center pawn position. Black hopes to prove that White’s plans are too ambitious.

6.e4 Nb6

Though 6…Nb4 is playable, it involves tactical finesses, for example 7.Qa4+ N8c6 8.d5 b5! (even 8…0-0! is possible, for if 9.dxc6 Nd3+ and Black regains the piece) 9.Qxb5 (or 9.Qb3? Nd4!) 9…Nc2+ 10.Kd1 Bd7 and White cannot play 11.Kxc2?? Nd4+ nor 11.dxc6?? Bxc6+. And after 7.d5 c6 8.Ne2 (8.a3 is best answered by 8…Qa5!) 8…cxd5 9.exd5 Bf5 10.Qa4+ N8c6! 11.Nbc3! (not 11.dxc6?? Nc2+ 12.Kf1 Qd1#) 11…Bc2! or 11…b5! and Black can hold his own in the coming complications.)


Immediate measures against White’s center are futile, for example 7…e5 8.d5 c6 9.Nbc3 cxd5 10.exd5 and White’s passed pawn is a power for the endgame.

7…0-0 8.0-0 (D)


Position after 8.0-0

Black cannot make any headway against White’s powerful center. For example 8…c5 9.d5 and Black’s knights have no prospects.

8…Nc6 9.d5 Nb8 10.Nec3! c6 11.a4! cxd5 12.exd5 Nc4 13.Re1 Re8 14.Na3! Nd6 15.Nab5!

White’s pressure is stifling. But the avoidance of this line (with 6…Nb4) requires first-class tactical abilities.