How to handle the Grunfeld

  • #1

    As a main line D4-C4 player I have tried many lines against the Grunfeld defense.  I have tried Bg5, bf4, the exchange lines, the russian lines.  From my own games, it seems black has no trouble equalizing and I often get dead positions in which I can not press for more as white.  For example, in the exchange grunfeld there is the kotov line which leads to a dry endgame ... Anyways I am wondering what exactly are few of the critical lines for the grunfeld.  Also a book recommendation that could help me investigate further would help.

    Thanks

  • #2

    What is the Kotov line in the exchange? The Kaufman rep book recommends the Russian system. Have to say the discussion seems a little lightweight for such a complicated line, but may give a start. His recommendations are little bit off most played moves, based on using software.

  • #3
    TwoMove wrote:

    The Kaufman rep book recommends the Russian system.


    Kaufman's repertoire book is utterly disappointing, under any aspect. Just random computer-generated lines, no prose, absolutely no authority about anything. His coverage of complex strategic lines like the Breyer Ruy is absolutely ridiculous. Who cares what his Komodo has hinted when he is unable to verify its findings logically?

  • #4

    I am a Grunfeld player and I think one of the most testing lines for both sides is Exchange variation 7.Nf3 c5 8.Rb1

  • #5

    Yes on reflection think IM Pfren correct. His first book was reasonable because chose rather safe, limited openings. Latest one the lines chosen too ambitious for such lightweight approach.

     

    Dearu's recommendation looks reasonable, and Gelfand's book of games, has a large number of model games in this line.

  • #6

     

    This is the kotov ending which i want to avoid, but i guess the nf3 and rb1 line or russian qb3 line avoids it.   Are there any other good books where I can find information on these lines? (other than gelfand's book? as I am having trouble finding it)

  • #7

    Eddie Dearing's "Challenging the Grunfeld", is on Nf3, Rb1 line I think, but quite dated now. That Kotov endgame line isn't played that often far as I know, maybe something wrong with it.

  • #8

    There is no Gelfand book on the Grunfeld.

    The above line is quite unfashionable due to 11.Bd5. You can find plenty of analysis in Sakaev's book "An Expert's Guide to the 7.Bc4 Gruenfeld".

    Anyway, judging from the games you have played here, you'd better forget about openings, and concentrate on other parts of the game.

  • #9
    pfren wrote:

    There is no Gelfand book on the Grunfeld.

    The above line is quite unfashionable due to 11.Bd5. You can find plenty of

    analysis in Sakaev's book "An Expert's Guide to the 7.Bc4 Gruenfeld".

    Anyway, judging from the games you have played here, you'd better forget about openings, and concentrate on other parts of the game.


      I am not so sure about forgetting openings. Many of the recent games i've played here have been Bullet games and blitz games and they do not accurately reflect my playing strength. Openings do help...For example, just last saturday I played in a tournament and drew a strong expert in a g/60 due to getting through the opening.  Yes, I apparently deviated on move 9, but just knowing what to do in the early stages of the game allowed me to play my opponent with more confidence and I think this confidence is what people need in their games and openings can help with that, especially when your opponent is stronger than you. 

     

     

    The difference between this game line and the lines used in the grunfeld is that the grunfeld is more dynamic, so I can't just improvise early on otherwise I get roasted.  I need some concrete lines or atleast need to learn some ideas to build my confidence against this monster. 

    Anyways enough on that, you do bring up a good point about working on other aspects of my game, I just haven't figured out how to work on them.  Especially working on improving middle game...i have no idea how.

  • #10

    Your placeholder for game didn't work. From information given about Kotov line, would say stick with Exchange var, because it seems that line the least of worries.

    For middlegame there are many good books, Bronstein's Chess struggle in practise, recent "Lessons with a GM" by Gulko etc. If can afford it,  coaching with an titled player is a good idea.

  • #11
    TwoMove wrote:

    Your placeholder for game didn't work. From information given about Kotov line, would say stick with Exchange var, because it seems that line the least of worries.

    For middlegame there are many good books, Bronstein's Chess struggle in practise, recent "Lessons with a GM" by Gulko etc. If can afford it,  coaching with an titled player is a good idea.


     Ahh check again I fixed it ;)  and thanks for the reccomendations everyone

  • #12
    paulgottlieb wrote:

    If you're not a complete beginner in the Grunfeld, I can think of nothing better than to study the games where Vladimir Kramnik is White against the Grunfeld. He seems to win an amazingly high percentage of those games, usually by way of a central breakthrough. A study of those games will probably teach you more than any book on the openings


    Excellent advice.  And in any case, one would learn more from the whole games than lines in a book ending with "and White has the better game."

    But Kramnik knows what he is playing inside and out, he introduced a fair amount of the theory.  If you don't want to get knee deep in preparation in critical lines, choose something less seldom seen, resign yourself that the Grunfeld is a good defense and difficult to force an advantage against, accept the even games in the line you adopt, but form plans and practice playing them.  In this way, when you get to the "even" game, at least you will be more familiar with the terrain.

  • #13

    Yes you are right. Grundfeld is a very good defense against d4. The problem with the grundfeld though is that it should be played concretely ie you must be well versed in theory.

     

    Otherwise you risk the danger of losing. AS a grundfeld player, sometimes its difficult to press a win against white if white knows quite a handful of theory.

     

    The exchange variation and the russian are the most dangerous lines in my opinion.

  • #14

    It looks like Avrukh's G3 line has been busted last year and the qb3 russian line can lead to something like this which doesn't look so appealing to play with as white.

    I am starting to think I should just stick with bf4 or bg5 sidelines if i want more winning chances as it leads to less simplification of pieces and gives more classical positions with intact pawn structures. 

    i looked at a few of kramnik's games in the nf3 rb1 line and it looks like it simplifies fast as well if black allows it.

    I really think at the 1900 level I need to keep more pieces on the board in the early stages if i want better winning chances as white.  Any ideas on this?

  • #15

    Handle it, you'll handle it?  You know, your predecessors had more respect.

  • #16
    redchessman wrote:

    I am starting to think I should just stick with bf4 or bg5 sidelines if i want more winning chances as it leads to less simplification of pieces and gives more classical positions with intact pawn structures. 

    i looked at a few of kramnik's games in the nf3 rb1 line and it looks like it simplifies fast as well if black allows it.

    I really think at the 1900 level I need to keep more pieces on the board in the early stages if i want better winning chances as white.  Any ideas on this?


     

    With the Grunfeld's fluid pawn structure and emphasis on piece play, there are ways the game can quickly simplify in any line, including Bf4 and Smyslov lines.  But as paulgottleib notes, you won't be facing Svidler most of the time, so there is no need to fear the Grunfeld.  It's just not so easy to control as some openings with more permanently defined pawn structures.

    Don't worry so much about general rules about simplifying, having the idea your chances are better with more pieces on the board can artificially affect your thinking, making you avoid exchanges when you might benefit from making them.

    And when playing weaker players, simplifying is sometimes the quickest way to win, as they tend to badly misplay endings.

  • #17

    A very solid white line like g3, doesn't get busted. Their might be problems in gaining an advantage in top level games, but that isn't the same thing. I presume you are talking about the neo-grunfeld line which happened in candidates final game between Gelfand v Grischuk, which black lost. At the moment that line does look quite attractive for black, but is very complicated and subtle line for club players like us to play.  In Russian and various exchange vars, white as big centre and active peices. For a predominately 1.e4 player like me, looks very promising for white. Think 1d4 club players being uncomfortable with active play is more a factor, than the complicated struggles happening between FIDE 2700+ players.

  • #18

    Yes, Kramnik does have initiative in the rb1 line, but from chessgames database it looks like he doesn't play russian variation at all and it makes sense because in the line I gave it looks like black is the one with the initiative.

     

    I am saying the g3 line is "busted" , but maybe a better way to say it is that it is unpleasant to play as white because it looks like the e pawn is pretty loose and making plans in such an opening looks quite difficult.  Also if you're declining the queen trade, the queen looks quite silly on b2 and black can finish developing easily starting with bd7. 

    This leaves me with the nf3 Rb1 line which I initially dismissed as simplifing too much.  I'll look at it a bit deeper, but my feelings are that I should not be waiting until endgame to finish off weaker opponents. (Although this what happened to me in the first round of my last tournament)

    Anyways what i found in the bf4 lines that i liked was that I could quickly build the pawn structure d4-c4-e3 and keep the dark bishop outside of the pawn chain.  This structure gives off a familiar sense as it stems from many d4 d5 structures, so it was easy to play.  However, I ran into a problem where black just blows up the structure with ideas like c5 and then qa5.

    Anyways from what I've come to understand, every single line has its own positives and negatives and I should just pick the one i'm most comfortable with even if its not objectively best.   

    Also on the point of learning how to handle different positions:  Although this is important,  I think that when you have no initiative and the position is just equal (like in the russian line I showed in an earlier post), I don't see why I would voluntarily go into that line when I can choose something more comfortable.

  • #19

    Umm, but the lines you are worried about are not critical, forced or popular. This includes the Kotov endgame, and g3 line gave above. Can see this even though a 1.e4 player, and don't know much about this stuff, just researching a little in database. All the lines worried about have big improvements for white. 8e4 above not forced, three is 8d4xc5, 8Nc3. Lots of options earlier. Think you just need to choose one line, play some games, deepen knowlege and stick with it for a season. At the moment, give impression frightened of ghosts and problems that don't exist.

  • #20

    Yup, it's rather silly to abandon a whole variation just because someone found an equalizing line in a variation (the above Avrukh "bust" only gives Black equality). White need not play 11.a3, both 11.Qe2 and 11.Qa4 are quite interesting.

    Avrukh is probably right when claiming that the whole 8.dc5 variation is equal, but 8.Nc3 is perfectly good, with a rich game of chess ahead.

    If you are of the level to bother about finesses deep into the opening, then sit down and do some work of your own- you should not expect everything served on a plate!

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