An exchange sacrifice to beat the Grunfeld

10 | Opening Theory

The Grünfeld defence relies on one of the main principles of the hypermodern school: a large pawn centre could be a liability rather than an asset. The opening is named after Ernst Grünfeld, the player who first employed the defence in the 1920s. The defence was later adopted by a number of top players, such as Vasily Smyslov, Viktor Korchnoi, Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov.
The main line of the Grünfeld, the Exchange Variation, is defined by the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3. Now White has an imposing looking centre and Black generally attacks it with ...c5 and ...Bg7, often followed by moves like ...cxd4, ...Bg4, and ...Nc6.
White can develop his pieces a number of ways in this variation. One of the most common ways to procede is by playing Bc4 and Ne2, often followed by 0-0 and f4-f5 with attack. A very popular continuation nowadays is the exchange sacrifice after 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 Bg4 11.f3 Na5 12.Bd3 cxd4 13.cxd4 Be6 14.d5 Bxa1 15.Qxa1. This sacrifice has been known at least as far back as the end of the 1940s and first appeared on the big stage in the Budapest Interzonal of 1950, when David Bronstein drew a game against Isaak Boleslavsky (beating him some months later in Moscow).
You probably know the most recent games where this moves order was played: Topalov-Shirov (Wijk aan Zee 2007), Aronian-Shirov (Elista WCM 2007). But what is about the oldest ones? Some are really brilliant and I'm going to show you one of them...

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