Challenging the Grunfeld

Edward Dearing

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Quality Chess
205 pages

Vladimir Kramnik may have chased Garry Kasparov away from the Grunfeld and Boris Spassky the same to Bobby Fischer, but mortals have plenty of respect for the invention of the Austrian theoretician Ernst Grunfeld. Many a d-pawn player has gravitated to 1.Nf3 or the English and not because of the Kings Indian or Dutch. After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 Black commences active operations and White must choose a principled line if he wishes to fight for an advantage.

Last year Russian Super-GM Konstantin Sakaev came out with a book advocating the Exchange variation with 7.Bc4, and more recently Scottish IM Edward Dearing has championed 7.Nf3 and 8.Rb1 in Challenging The Grunfeld. The latter, a longtime favorite of Kramnik and Gelfand, offers plenty of chances to take the battle to the Grunfeld aficionado but also demands a tremendous amount of work.

Dearing starts off Challenging The Grunfeld with a very useful 8-page introduction to the variation in which he gives an overview and suggested repertoire for White against all of Black’s main choices. He then gets down to the hard work of explaining this complicated system through the use of 50 model games, which are arranged in 9 chapters:

After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 8.Rb1 0-0 9.Be2 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qa5+ 11.Bd2 Qxa2 12.0-0

1. The Presumptuous 12…a5!?
2. The Logical 12…b6!?
3. The Chameleon 12…Nd7!?
4. The Reliable Recipe 12…Bg4!
5. Rare 12th Move Alternatives and 11.Qd2!?
6. The Provocative 9…Nc6!?
7. The lnsidous 10…Ne5!?
8. The Indubitable 9…b6!?
9. Early Alternatives and Miscellany (9…Qa5, 9…Nd7)

As mentioned previously, the lines based on 7.Nf3 and 8.Rb1 require a great deal of concrete knowledge. The position after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 8.Rb1 0-0 9.Be2 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qa5+ 11.Bd2 Qxa2 12.0-0, when Black has tried 12……a5!?, 12……b6, 12……Nd7, 12……Bg4, 12……Qe6, 12…Bd7, 12……Na6, takes up pages 15 to 132! Clearly this is not the line if you don’t have a good memory or inclination to study.

This caveat aside Challenging The Grunfeld is a great book. Dearing does a good job of balancing the material. There is lots of prose explanation to explain both player’s aims but never to the extent that it waters down a high level theoretical discussion, many times with original analysis by the author. Often a work as focused as this adopts a more traditional opening book approach rather than the model games concept employed here, but I didn’t find that a problem. Dearing has made it a point not to overlook anything, the introduction does a very good job of orienting the reader and the index of opening moves is quite through. In other words if you are willing to put in the time and have an excellent memory this book is a tremendously good tool for learning how to combat the Grunfeld.

Highly Recommended