The Safest Grünfeld

by grandmaster Alexander Delchev and grandmaster Evgenij Agrest

Chess Stars, 2011

The Grünfeld is a very topical opening, nowadays used at the highest level. The authors have put together a complete repertoire for Black against 1.d4, and in each of the nine major system they have given at least one alternative. In addition there are two sections on rare systems, another on the New in Chess SOS systems, and one more on the English Anti-Grünfeld. A complete coverage indeed.

Alexander Delchev has written most of the book, and plays the Grünfeld as White and Black. Evgenij Agrest only plays against it as White, so has provided a balance, and he has worked hard on the backup systems.

In typical Chess Stars style, each major system has three chapters. The first gives the main ideas, the second is a move-by-move analysis, and lastly there are 27 complete games covering the 13 sections. Here, I am disappointed there is no index of complete games.

As an example, I will use the 5.Qb3 line recently favoured by Carlsen as White. The 'Main Ideas' chapter is quite short, with 6 pages. The main pawn structures and tactical motifs are clearly explained, with very instructive examples. A pawn structure often arises with tension between White's pawn on d5, and Black's pawn on c6. The authors show how and why the tension should be maintained as long as possible. Very impressive.

There are 10 pages of 'Step by step' analysis, avoiding the most complicated lines with 7...Na6 and 7...a6. Instead, the chosen 7...Nc6 has less theory and is still quite solid. After 8.Be2, 8...Bg4 is the main recommendation, with 8...e5 as a backup.

This section is one of very few with no complete games.

The book claims to up-to-date to April 1st, 2011. I highly recommend it as a reliable repertoire against d4 for ambitious chess players, but those not wishing to choose the most complicated theoretical lines. It will be very useful for Grünfeld players who want to up date their systems, and those looking for alternatives. It could be the basis of a defence to last a lifetime. White players of 1.d4 will also want to check out what will be played against them.

Vic Rumsey