Play the Grunfeld

Yelena Dembo

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Everyman Chess
192 pages

Play The Grunfeld by IM Yelena Dembo aims to provide those wishing to learn this dynamic defense a repertoire against all White systems from the Exchange to the Fianchetto variations. Since larger books have been written on just 8.Rb1 in the Exchange variation it should come as no surprise that Dembo, bronze medalist in the 2005 European Women’s Championship, has had to make some tough choices to conserve space.

One way she has accomplished this is by her selection of 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 Na5 a rare line used successfully by Vassily Ivanchuk and Peter Svidler that has a fraction of the theory that exists after 10……Qc7 or 10……Bg4. Just in case the reader feels uncomfortable, Dembo offers the solid 10…Bd7 as a backup. Offering two variations for Black against a White line is not something that Dembo does often. Much more typical is her treatment of the Fianchetto variation where she zeroes in on the most important, testing and economical sequence – 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nb6! and Black delays castling to follow up with 7……Nc6. By adopting this move order Black forces White to play an early e3, sidestepping dangerous lines with d5 that can occur when the second player castles early.

Dembo organizes her material well and has chosen variations that allow Black to aim for more than just equalizing. She offers a good mixture of theory and explanatory prose that makes Play The Grunfeld quite readable. This book should be quite useful for players 2000 on up.