Grunfeld Defense: Exchange Variation Classical Bc4 Analysis.

The Grunfeld Defense: Exchange Variation is an excellent choice for the strategic player.

GM Ron W. Henley
GM Ron W. Henley

I recently had the opportunity to work with a very talented young chess player who attends a school in New York City that has an excellent chess program and tradition. At thirteen years old he already has a USCF rating of about 1900. More importantly he is very mature and disciplined, has a solid positional style and likes to gradually build a strategic advantage. He also has the patience to enjoy playing the endgame which is rare for young players. During our training session together, he played a few 15 minute games on ICC and then we reviewed afterwards.

Grunfeld Defense: Exchange Variation

Yakovmaster – Amateur (1800) [D88] Gruenfeld Defense, Exchange Variation
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4

The Exchange Variation of the Grunfeld Defense is an excellent and very classical approach for a strategic player. White grabs the center and the onus is on Black to find sufficient counter-play. World Champions Spassky and later Karpov adopted this
variation for White with considerable success.

7. …c5 8. Ne2 0-0 9. 0-0 Nc6 10. Be3 cxd4 11. cxd4 Bg4 12. f3

The players have reached a key position from the Exchange Gruenfeld.

12. …Bd7

Black simply retreats his bishop. For several decades, black automatically played 12. …Na5, leading to the following main lines:

a) 13. Bd3 Be6 14. Rc1 Bxa2 15. Qa4 Bb3 16. Qb4 b6 (In this key position it is considered that White has compensation for the sacrificed pawn.)

b) 13. Bd3 Be6 14. d5 Bxa1 15. Qxa1 f6 (In this key position it is considered that White has compensation for the sacrificed exchange, based on his bishop pair, central control and kingside attacking prospects.)

c) 13. Bxf7+ Rxf7 14. fxg4 Rxg1+ 15. Kxf1 (This follows the famous games between Karpov-Kasparov – known as the Seville Variation.)

13. Rb1!? Qc7

A precious placing of the black queen along the c-file. A normal plan would be 13. …Rc8!? 14. Bd3 Na5 15. Qd2 b6 (planning 16. …Nc4), but after 16. Rfc1 black has failed to generate any real pressure against the white center.

14. Qd2!

White lines up the thematic Q+B battery and prepares 15. Rfc1 to take advantage of the black queen on the c-file.

One Mistake Often Leads to a Second

14. …Nxd4!?

Black unleashes a discovered attack on the unprotected white Bc4. The alternative 14. …Ne5 15. Bd5! Nc4 16. Bxc4 is nicely met by 16. …Qxc4 17. Rfc1! Qa6 18. Rc7 with a serious initiative for white.

15. Bxd4 Qxc4 16. Bxg7 Rfd8?

A terrible blunder, after which Black is unable to recover his piece. The correct play was to recapture the bishop on g7 with 16. …Kxg7! – White could then try 17. Qxd7, 17. Rxb7 or 17. Rfc1, but
with precise defense, Black has chances to survive.

17. Qb2!+-

The winning move, as White removes his queen from the x-ray from the black rook on d8, while protecting his bishop on g7.

17. …a6?!

Black wants to play 18. …Bb5, but never gets the chance.

18. Rfc1 Qe6?

An unfortunate choice, but after 18. …Qd3 19. Bh6 f6 20. Rd1, white is well on the road to victory.

19. Nf4 Qd6 20. Be5! 1-0

The mobilized white army works in perfect harmony to trap the black queen!

Article by GM Ron W. Henley

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