Chess Developments — The Grunfeld

David Vigorito

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Everyman Chess
400 pages

The latest offering in the Everyman series, Chess Developments, is Massachusetts IM David Vigorito’s massive (400 page) work on the Grunfeld. Despite its size, Chess Developments: The Grunfeld does not cover all lines of this opening which ranks among the most theoretical in modern chess.

Following the Chess Developments credo to provide only state-of- the-art opening coverage, Vigorito has had to make some tough opening choices for this book which is written primarily from Black’s point of view. That means only …Nxd5 lines in the Fianchetto variation and not the duller (but more solid) ……c6-d5 setups. Likewise in the Russian variation (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0-0 7.e4) he examines the currently popular 7……Nc6 and 7……a6 and not the old main lines 7…Bg4 and 7……Na6.

The heart of Chess Developments: The Grunfeld is its coverage of the Exchange Variation, which occupies about half the book. Both the old main line with 7.Bc4/8.Ne2 and the more modern 7.Nf3 are examined at length. This is arguably the most principled approach to meeting the Grunfeld but Vigorito shows Black has adequate resources. While Chess Developments: The Grunfeld is quite comprehensive it should not be confused with an opening repertoire book on this opening. Many of White’s sidelines are not to be found including the radical 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4!? which is getting tested quite a bit by 2700+ elite players these days.

Structuring this book around 51 model games makes it more readable but this is definitely a serious opening tome in which explanatory prose takes a back seat to concrete analysis and assessment of variations. Accordingly this book is best utilized by players rated 2000 on up. Jonathan Rowson’s Understanding the Grunfeld is 15-years-old but still required reading for those who are taking up this dynamic counter-attacking defense for the first time.