Understanding The Grunfeld Defense


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

More than any other modern defensive scheme the Grunfeld Defense typifies piece play for Black and occupation of the center by White.

Of all the most popular openings there is none as flagrant as the Grunfeld in defying the principles that one should occupy the center. Invented by the Austrian Master Ernst Grunfeld in 1922, the defense makes extreme use of the "hypermodern" concept of attacking the center from afar in order to control it. Somewhat surprisingly, the defense is considered very respectable and sound, frequently used in the careers of Kasparov, Fischer, Smyslov, Korchnoi, Leko and Illescas. It is very active and tactical due to the open nature of the position. Naturally, there is the danger that White's big center will lead to a strong attack. Yet by sidestepping the pawn steamroller and attacking it, Black can feel relatively secure.

The defense seems a lot like the King's Indian Defense, but if you compare it with the King's Indian you can see that there is a very important difference, The Black pawn at d5 prevents White from establishing the ideal pan center by playing e4. This changes the nature of the struggle, which will much more directly involve the center, which is often closed in the King's Indian. White can and usually does manage to get the ideal pawn center but must do so in an environment where it is hard to defend. The Exchange Variation illustrates this.

White may have the center, but Black can chip away at it from the supports by playing ...Bg4, moving the Knight from f6, and acting on the Queenside. When Ernst Grunfeld, introduced his invention early in 1922, such a White position seemed unthinkably strong, but ways have been found to create counterplay. White has a variety of other approaches too, including systems with Bg5 or Bf4, but these are generally held to be less dangerous for Black.

The Variations
1. Grunfeld Defense
2. Exchange Variation
3. Exchange Variation Main Line
4. Exchange Modern Line
5. Three Knights Variation
6. Three Knights Russian Variation
7. Three Knights Anti Grunfeld
8. Grunfeld Defense with (4.Bf4)
9. Grunfeld Gambit

Chessbase Opening Report

Strong grandmasters who used The Grunfeld as Black
			Results in Percent
Victor Kortschnoj		64%
Garry Kasparov 		55%
Vassily Ivanchuk		63%
Loek Van Wely		56%
Alexel Shirov		50%
Robert Fischer		45%
Viswanathan Anand		33%

Black scores averagely at 46%

    Moves and Plans
If	   Then You should play
a) 4.cxd5 	4Nxd5
Critical line:
5.Bd2 Bg7 6.e4 Nb6 7.Be3 0-0  42% Black

b) 4.Nf3	4Bg7
Critical line:
5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 c5 45% Black

c) 4.h4	4dxc4  (Alternative 4Bg7)

d) 4.Bf4	4Bg7
Critical line:
5.e3 c5 6.dxc5 Qa5 7.Qa4+ Qxa4  45% Black

e) 4.Bg5	4Ne4
Critical line:
5.Nxe4 dxe4 6.Qd2 Bg7 7.e3 c5  41% Black

f) 4.f3	4Bg7	(Alternative 4c5)

g) 4.e3	4Bg7

h) 4.Qb3	4dxc4

i) Qa4+ 	4Bd7	(Alternative 4c6)

j) 4.g4	4dxc4(Alternative 4Bxg4)

k) 4.g3	4Bg7

l) 4.h3	4Bg7

m) 4.e4	4dxe4

n) 4.b3	4Bg7

o)4.c5	4Bg7
The Games
1. Alekhine - Gruenfeld
2, Moritz - Gruenfeld
3. Anand - Kasparov
4. Kortschnoj - Kasparov
5. Timman - Kasparov
6. Winants - Kortschnoj (Mate)
7. Luputian - Ivanchuk
8. Milov -Van Wely
9. Kortschinoj - Van Wely
10. Topalov - Shirov
11. Sokolov - Shirov
12. Greenwald - Fischer
13. Garcia - Fischer
14. Taimanov - Fischer
15. Seirawan - Anand
16. Jussupow - Anand
17. Spassov - Tukmakov (Mate)
18. Schussler - Smejkal (Mate)
19. Timoshenko - Dvolrys (Mate)
20. Grande - Jansa (Mate in 17 Moves)