The main line Gruenfeld Defence Russian System presented me with a dilemma. I was familiar with the Smyslov lines, but those are old. Vasily Smyslov was World Champion from 1957-1958. The Russian System begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3. Play usually continues 5…dxc4 6.Qxc4 0-0 7.e4.
Smyslov played the line 7…Bg4 from both sides of the board in games from the 1940s to the 1970s. I studied a lot of his old games against Keres, Kotov, Botvinnik, Euwe and others. Other seventh moves later became popular. By the time they came along, I was no longer putting in the hard work to stay up on theory. They looked sharp and complicated. I tried 7…a6 and 7…c6. Also interesting are 7…Nc6, 7…Na6 and 7…Nfd7.
It is funny how things come in phases. I played the Russian System six times in 1981 from one side or the other. I did not return to it from either side for several years.
White gets a big pawn center. Both sides must focus on the middle of the board. Beyond that, White may find play on the kingside. Black may find play on the queenside. The popular move 13…Bh5 annoys me from either side. It ties both bishops down until White is ready to play f4. My Gruenfeld Defence game vs Gene Wadman was close to equal.
The problem was that I was much higher rated and did not want anything close to a draw. He did have some real attacking chances along the g-file. The result was not clear until White’s mistake on move 26. Black was up a piece and won quickly.
Wadman (1507) - Sawyer (2100), corr APCT 1981 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0-0 7.e4 Bg4 8.Be3 Nfd7 9.Qb3 Nb6 10.Rd1 Nc6 11.d5 Ne5 12.Be2 Nxf3+ 13.gxf3 Bh5 14.Rg1 Qb8 15.f4 Bxe2 16.Kxe2 Nc8 17.f3 Nd6 18.h4 Qc8 19.Rh1 h5 20.Rdg1 Kh7 21.Qc2 [Or 21.f5 c5=] 21...c5 22.f5 gxf5?! [22...b5!=] 23.Rg5 f6 24.Rg2 e5 25.dxe6 Qxe6 26.Bxc5? [26.Rd1=] 26...Qc4+ 27.Kd1 Qxc5 28.Rhg1 Bh6 29.Re1 Nb5 30.Ree2 Nd4 0-1
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