Friday, July 15, 2016

Gruenfeld Exchange Sacrifice

The main line Gruenfeld Defence Exchange Variation used to be the sharp 7.Bc4. In the 1970s, every chess player who knew opening theory knew that 7.Nf3 was bad and 7.Bc4 was good. The reason was that the natural move 7.Nf3 allowed Black to pin the knight. Later it was discovered that White has excellent play after 7.Nf3 and 8.Rb1. Then it became more popular. The pin of Nf3 is avoided in the 7.Bc4 line because White can play his kingside knight to 8.Ne2. This has been examined in great detail.

In an APCT postal game John Blumetti played 7.Bc4 Exchange Variation. In my career I played this many times, but mostly as Black. In appears I played it only six times from the White side. White chose the critical Exchange Sacrifice line with 14.d5. The moves from 7.Bc4 to 14.d5 are not forced, but they are logical. Some players vary with 14.Rc1. Others play 13.Bxf7+!? Still others choose a different earlier path altogether.

The greedy part of me always wants to be Black and take the rook with 14.d5 Bxa1. Then I try to hold on to the material. This gives White good attacking chances. White either gets an advantage or Black must give back some material. This line has been heavily tested in master play over the past 30 years. Back in 1981 John Blumetti and I were probably on our own by move 18. We only had to play ten good original moves. I was a little more accurate and came away with the win.

Blumetti (1762) - Sawyer (2100), corr APCT 1981 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 c5 7.Bc4 Bg7 8.Ne2 0-0 9.0-0 cxd4 10.cxd4 Nc6 11.Be3 Bg4 12.f3 Na5 13.Bd3 Be6 14.d5 Bxa1 15.Qxa1 f6 16.Bh6 Re8 17.Nf4 Bf7 18.Kh1 a6 [18...Qc7=/+] 19.e5 g5 20.exf6 [20.e6+/=] 20...exf6 21.g3? [21.Nh3! Re5 22.f4 Rxd5=] 21...gxf4?! [21...Re5!-+] 22.gxf4 Bxd5 23.Rg1+ Kf7 24.Rg7+ Ke6 25.f5+? [25.Qe1+ Kd6 26.Qb4+ Kc6 27.Qc3+ Kb6 28.Qd4+ Kc6=] 25...Kd6 26.Bf4+ Re5 27.a4? Bxf3+ 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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