The Greening of the Grünfeld

   Jacques Delaguerre I’ve thought a lot about your comment a couple of weeks ago that one might as well answer 1. e4 with e5 these days and 1. d4 with d5 because the lines were solid. I’ve followed some of my favorite openings down the rabbit hole and clearly Black is struggling but I haven’t identified any in which Black is actually lost. Always there’s a turning point, at least so it seems to me. The draw may be fantabulous, e.g., in defenses like the Grünfeld, and hard to spot, but it’s there.

Nigel Davies The Gruenfeld seems to be holding up reasonably well from what I can tell. Surprisingly…

The Grünfeld Defense is old yet modern. The King’s Indian defense was neither well understood nor very successful before the emerging Soviet school grasped it to their collective bosom in the 1930’s and and 1940’s. Until roughly the era of Geller and Bronstein, the general consensus was that after 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 it was incumbent upon Black to play 3 … d5 since the results for Black against the White’s c4-d4-e4 center were discouraging for Black.

Thus an immense amount of theory has accumulated over the past 90 years on the intriguing tabiya that emerges after 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5, a position so much more resilient and promising than Frank Marshall’s apparently similar 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d5 by reason of Black’s readiness to castle behind an almost-complete fianchetto and the possibility of trading off Black’s king knight for White’s queen knight should the former be prodded from the center by e2-e4.

An immense amount of theory it is;  indeed, it seems sometimes that almost any White or Black plan is playable. Black’s lack of a pawn center is compensated by frenetic piece activity of a dimension unknown in other defenses to the d4-c4 pawn pair. Despite the volumes that have been dedicated to the Grünfeld, it remains tremendously popular in grandmaster chess where it still frequently delivers delightful and original games.

In my game this week from the Denver Chess Club, local expert Joel Senger playing White establishes a broad center but fails to get his pieces out and succumbs to Black’s superior activity.

Jacques Delaguerre


Author: Jacques Delaguerre

Jacques Delaguerre is a Colorado musician and chessplayer.