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Grunfeld (D85)
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5

Number of games in database: 4081
Years covered: 1921 to 2014
Overall record:
   White wins 35.7%
   Black wins 23.1%
   Draws 41.1%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Vladimir Kramnik  51 games
Boris Gelfand  47 games
Viktor Korchnoi  36 games
Peter Svidler  86 games
Lubomir Ftacnik  75 games
Emil Sutovsky  45 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Gelfand vs Shirov, 1998
Kramnik vs Kasparov, 2000
Karpov vs Kasparov, 1990
Topalov vs Shirov, 1998
Gelfand vs Shirov, 2007
Shaked vs Kasparov, 1997
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 page 1 of 164; games 1-25 of 4,081  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. A Becker vs Gruenfeld ½-½25 1921 Vienna m3D85 Grunfeld
2. B Kostic vs Gruenfeld 0-161 1922 11, Teplitz-Schonau it GERD85 Grunfeld
3. B Siegheim vs Reti  0-152 1922 Hastings 2223D85 Grunfeld
4. J Von Patay vs Reti  0-137 1923 ViennaD85 Grunfeld
5. J Bernstein vs Alekhine  0-143 1923 KarlsbadD85 Grunfeld
6. R P Michell vs Alekhine  ½-½57 1923 Margate (02)D85 Grunfeld
7. Duchamp vs Koltanowski  0-130 1923 BrusselsD85 Grunfeld
8. O C Mueller vs A Muffang  0-120 1923 MargateD85 Grunfeld
9. G Norman vs H E Price  1-030 1924 Hastings 1923/24D85 Grunfeld
10. Levenfish vs S Rozental  1-033 1924 USSR ChampionshipD85 Grunfeld
11. V Vukovic vs L Steiner  ½-½72 1925 DebrecenD85 Grunfeld
12. R P Michell vs Carlos Torre  ½-½31 1925 MarienbadD85 Grunfeld
13. V Sozin vs P Romanovsky 0-125 1925 USSR ChampionshipD85 Grunfeld
14. A Tackels vs J H Pannekoek  0-141 1925 NED-BEL mD85 Grunfeld
15. Ed. Lasker vs Kupchik  0-154 1926 Lake HopatcongD85 Grunfeld
16. Lisitsin vs B Yuriev  1-054 1931 Ch URS (1/2 final)D85 Grunfeld
17. Kashdan vs Alekhine  ½-½37 1932 LondonD85 Grunfeld
18. Rubinstein vs J van den Bosch  0-126 1932 31-board SimulD85 Grunfeld
19. Capablanca vs Flohr  ½-½32 1935 Hastings 1934/35D85 Grunfeld
20. F Bohatirchuk vs Goglidze  ½-½41 1935 MoscowD85 Grunfeld
21. A Simonson vs Kashdan  ½-½60 1935 USA-36.Congress MastersD85 Grunfeld
22. Szabo vs H E Atkins  ½-½38 1935 Warsaw ol (Men)D85 Grunfeld
23. L Engels vs Alekhine 1-067 1936 DresdenD85 Grunfeld
24. Vidmar vs Alekhine ½-½23 1936 NottinghamD85 Grunfeld
25. M Castillo vs Letelier  ½-½44 1936 Mar del Plata it-03D85 Grunfeld
 page 1 of 164; games 1-25 of 4,081  PGN Download
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-21-07  whatthefat: <hitman84>

You never posted those computer match results. Did you get around to doing them?

Jan-22-07  hitman84: <whatthefat>The games were played long back and I seem to have mistakenly deleted the pgn besides I have no time to play cometitve chess so chess has taken a back seat.

If my memory serves me right, the Russian system is playable but black will have to fight tooth and nail.

I'll do it all over again...

Aug-09-07  MadBishop: I recently played a cc game with white against the grunfeld.

After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 0-0 8.Be2 Black played <b6>

click for larger view

This is the 1st time that I was faced with this, and I was just wondering whether this move is a necessary prelude to c5 and what part the B7 bishop is supposed to eventually play? What would white's best reply to this move be and what long-term stratergies could white look foreward to? Much thanks!

Enjoy! ;-)

Aug-20-07  jenspetersson: Any Grünfeldians out there you could tell me if there is a name for the system/variation with Bd2 in D85?

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Bd2

A "prosaic system which Smyslov was fond of" according to Rowson "Understanding the Grünfeld", but does it have a name?

Aug-20-07  Swapmeet: <jenspetersson> I believe it is called the Smyslov variation. At least Lalic does in his book on the Grunfeld.
Aug-21-07  jenspetersson: Thanks <Swapmeet>! What confused me was that I couldn't find a single game with Smyslov playing it (neither here at chessgames or anywhere else)! But double checking I now realize that Smyslov didn't play the modern version with this move order and aiming at playing an early e4. Smyslov played it with an early Nf3+Rc1 and then its D90 and not D85!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: <yanez: I prefer white by far after 8...0-0 9.Be2 cxd4 10. cxd4 Qa5+ 11.Bd2 Qxa2> I do too, but just because strategically my plan is clear, maybe objectively it's still about equal.

We're talking about

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Nf3 c5 8. Rb1 O-O 9. Be2 cxd4 10. cxd4 Qa5+ 11. Bd2 Qxa2

click for larger view

It's a gambit, for sure. If White can't whip something up, then Black's two queenside passers will win the ending, for sure. Luckily White is in a good position to whip something up.

The book move, and it's probably best, is simply 12.O-O. But on ICC me and another chessgamer spent perhaps a dozen rapid games exploring a pet variation of mine: 12.Qc1?! I won a few of these games right off the bat as he struggled with this new idea, but before long he hit upon the refutation, forcing me to stop playing it altogether. Let's take a closer look:

<Grunfeld, Sneaky Variation>

After 12.Qc1?!

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It's truly a "sneaky" move because it's full of venom and hidden traps for the unwary. For example,

<12...Nc6?> looks natural, doesn't it? Gotcha! 13.Bc4 traps the queen! 13...Qa4 14.Ra1 1-0 - I've won a handful of blitz games with that one trap.

<12...b6?> is a commonly seen Grunfeld move, right? But now it loses a piece to 13.Bc4! Qa4 14.Bd5! - I've scored a point that way as well.

<12...Qa4> is a natural move and probably pretty good. It's obvious that the queen is in trouble and this seems to be a good way to extricate her. But now I like 13.Rb4 Qd7 14.O-O and I think White is a little bit better here than in the normal mainline (12.O-O) because the rook really controls a lot of squares from b4, the Black queen looks sort of silly blocking in the bishop like that, and ...Nc6 can be neutralized with Bb5.

And any move with the queen's bishop, like 12...Bg4 can probably be met with Rxb7, and if you are playing a GM or something, you can just claim a draw on the spot with a repetition Bc4 Qa4 Bb5 Qa2 Bc4 Qa4 Bb5 etc.

<The Refutation>

So what's the real refutation of the "Grunfeld, Sneaky Variation"? Well after some thought what we figured out was 12...Qe6! not keeps the queen out of trouble, but actually gives White a few headaches of his own.

After 12...Qe6!

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12...Qe6! is the kind of move that computers find right away, but people usually don't like it at first glance because you have to take into account the complicated 12.Ng5. It doesn't take much imagination to see that there could be some sort of sacrifice on f7 or something like that, but as Caissa would have it, 12.Ng5 is no big deal. It might look nasty but it's really nothing more than a momentary inconvenience.

<Conclusion> 12.Qc1?! is good for blitz games, or if you want to test your opponent with something they haven't seen before, but the hard-to-see 12...Qe6 all but refutes it, therefore the textbook 12.O-O is still White's best shot.

Nov-12-07  MadBishop: Here is the completed game I was refering to earlier:

1.d5 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 0-0 8.Be2 b6 9.0-0 Bb7 10.e5 c5 11.Be3 Qc7 12.Rc1 c4<?>

The terrible move that cost Black the game!

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13.a4 a6 14.Nd2 b5 15.f4 f5<!?> 16.Bf3 Bxf3 17.Rxf3 e6<!?> 18.h4 h5<?!>

In his attempt to stop my attack, Black has gained self-induced weaknesses in his position!

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19.Rb1 Qc6 20.Rg3 Kh7 21.Qf3 Qxf3 22.Nxf3 bxa4 23.Ng5+<!> Black resigns

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In this game Black's ...b6 was refuted by Whites exchanges along the h1-a8 diagonal! I look forward to facing this variation of the Grunfeld again! ;-)

Apr-08-08  playerXchess: Li Chao is one of the very few players today who use the Grufeld almost exclusively as black's answer to d4. It's worth going through some of his games.
Jun-20-08  offtherook: All right, I'm trying to find a decent response to <1 d4>. For some reason, I absolutely can not seem to understand the Indian defences (KID, QID, and Nimzo don't really make much sense to me) and semi-slav is way too boring. I've been playing the Budapest gambit, but I think it's time I settled on a real opening. Grünfeld looks interesting, so how do I go about learning it? What are some typical things to look out for, and what are the plans for both sides?
Jul-07-08  ravel5184: My System: 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. b3?!?!

click for larger view

If anybody can see any problems with it tell me on my forum. Please! I am planning to play it in my next OTB tournament and I don't want to get caught in a simple opening trap!

Jul-07-08  ravel5184: Please!
Aug-15-08  hicetnunc: => <ravel5184> I would look at 4...c5!? for black, which seems pretty strong
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: I was surprised just now, playing speed chess (40 moves in 6 minutes) against GnuChess 5.0, that after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5, it tried 5.g4!?

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This is neither found here on's database, nor among the Caxton Named Opening variations. I tried 5...Nxc3 6.bxc3 Qd5 7.f3 Bxg4!?, but after 8.e4 Qc6 9.Qb3 Bd7 10.Bc4 e6 11.Rb1 ...

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... it was clear that White had something for the pawn. Speed chess being what it is, the game continued 11...b6?! (I probably should have given the pawn back) 12.Ne2 Be7 13.O-O Qa4 14.Bh6 Qxb3 15.axb3 Nc6 16.b4 O-O-O 17.d5 exd5 18.Ba6+ Kb8 19.exd5 Bf5 20.dxc6 Bxb1 21.Rxb1 g5 22.Ng3 Rd6 23.Nf5 Re6 24.Bg7 Rg8 25.Bc4 Rxg7 26.Bxe6 Rg6 27.Bc4 Bd6 28.Rd1 Rf6 29.Nxd6 cxd6 30.Re1 Kc7 31.Re7+ Kxc6 32.b5+ Kc5 33.Rc7# 1-0

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <offtherook> If you're still around ... if you are 1600-1700 I would definitely recommend you try The Tarrasch Defense: straightforward development, fighting for the center, venturing into thematic positions (IQP middlegames) that are discussed in every Middlegame instructional book - this is the way to get good games and also improve, IMO.
Mar-02-09  FiveofSwords: <offtherook> Another idea that will remain nice to the highest levels of play (the tarrasch is rather dangerous for the 2300+) Is the queen's gambit accepted. I gave up the grunfeld due to the multitude of lines jsut like what these guys are mentioning heh and took that up. White has much less variety of things to throw at you in the QGA and you have pretty nice mobility and activity for your pieces, with decent prospects in many lines of either an attack on the kingside or a breakthrough on the queenside-or simply playing safe and solid for the draw, making it quite a nice, flexible and reliable opening. You might get more draws with the QGA than with the grunfeld, but you will still get some nice wins, especially if you have good endgame technique, and you will lose a LOT less often than in the grunfeld.
Mar-02-09  chessman95: <ravel5184>
After 4...dxc4 you either have to gambit a pawn or retake with 5.bxc4 and leave your entire queenside weak and exposed. I would give black the advantage in this line. (A computer recommended this move, humans probably won't think to take the pawn if it's protected)
Mar-02-09  chessman95: <offtherook>
The basic idea of the Grunfeld is to make the freeing move for white (e4) impossible. This is the very reason that white almost always plays 2.c4 after 1.d4 Nf6. If black was allowed to play 2...d5 then white's e-pawn would never get past the third rank. You should note that the reason black has waited to play ...d5 after playing ...g6 is because often in the Grunfeld there is an exchange of pawns in the center, so then the queen will start putting pressure on white's e-pawn because nothing will be in its way. This gives black the option to play Bg7 at the best moment, if he sees that white will have trouble gaurding the d-pawn.

The problem is that white does have the pawn on c4, so the most natural line in the Grunfeld is the Exchange Variation: 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 and white has traded himself into a strong center but a weak queenside. Usually black continues with 6...Bg7, and then white has the main options of Bc4 and Nf3.

White can also choose to continue with normal development by playing the three knights variation: 4.Nf3 Bg7 and then continue with Qb3 or Bg5.

The other main variation is 4.Bf4, which almost always continues 4...Bg7 5.e3, and then black can play c6, c5, or 0-0.

Mar-02-09  samikd: <Hesam7> , and <dragon> there is a book by Yelena Dembo which came out a couple of years ago. I saw it ; its not that bad...probably better than Nigel Davies or Jacob Aagard (though not nearly as detailed as Rawson). I have Rawson, and I also have 'Grunfeld for the attacking player' by Bogdan Lalic, but its even older than Rawson's book. There is a new book coming out by Valentin Bogdanov which is supposed to be detailed (according to, with an emphasis on the 8.Rb1 line.

As for White's point of view, I agree with <Hesam> that the book on Kramnik's repertoire (by Khalifman) should be very good. I havent seen it, but I can imagine that it should be great as far as any 1.d4 opening is concerned, from white's point of view.

I dont know what Gelfand has written about the Grunfeld, but he was the main proponent of the 8.Rb1 line as far as I know

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: I stumbled upon an amusing King Walk while looking at the Deferred Nadanian Attack in the Grunfeld Defense. After 8...Ndb7? I don't see any way to improve Black's play:

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Bg7 6.Na4 (this is the Deferred Nadanian Attack, while 5.Na4 would be the Nadanian Attack; the Deferred Variation avoids the reply 5...e5) b6 7.e4 Nf6 8.Bb5+

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8...Nbd7? 9.Bc6 Rb8 10.e5 Ng8 (10...Ng4 11.e6 fxe6 12.Ng5) 11.e6 fxe6 12.Ng5 Ba6 (12...Bxb7 13.Bxb7 Rxb7 14.Qf3) 13.Nxe6 Qc8 14.Nxg7+ Kf7

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15.Ne6 Kxe6 16.Qg4+ Kd6 17.Bf4+ Kxc6 18.Qf3+ Kb5

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19.Qd5+ Nc5 (19...c5 20.Nc3+ Ka5 21.b4+ Kxb4 23.Qb3+ Ka5 23.Qa4#) 20.Nxc5 bxc5 (20...c6 21.a4+ Kb4 22.Bd2#) 21.Qxc5+ Ka4 22.b3+ Rxb3 23.axb3+ Kxb3 24.Ra3+ Kb2 25.Qc1# 1-0

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Apr-30-11  Open Defence: 6...Nf6 seems a better choice for Black
Aug-31-11  Mr37: I have a question: in the line

5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 8.Rb1 0-0 9.Be2 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qa5+

my d4 book says that the a2-pawn sacrifice with 11.Bd2 is "necessary", whereas "11.Qd2 is feeble". Why is it so? As far as i can see 11...Nc6 is no good, so black is reduced to 11...Qxd2+ 12.Bxd2 b6, and then ..Bb7, ...Nbd7 if he wants to counter white center (12...Bg4 13.Rxb2 Bxf3 14.Bxf3 Bxd5 15.e5 followed by Bb5 looks troublesome for black to me) Of course black has the Q side majority and a game to be played, but I can't find anything wrong in principle with the idea of swapping the queens and keeping the a2 pawn. Any opinions?

Mar-25-12  Cushion: Why does no one play the move order 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cd Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bc Bg7 7. Nf3 O-O? It seems to avoid Bb5+ lines, or at least the good ones.
Mar-25-12  SimonWebbsTiger: @<Mr37>

in answer to your question, Kasparov discusses this in "Revolution in the 70s" pp.203-204.

Garry noted that Black would have no real problems if White had to interpose with 11. Qd2 and presents an overview of the theory and queenless middlegame/endgame with 11...Qxd2 in "On Modern Chess: Kasparov vs. Karpov 1986-1987" pp.348-355, because the line was tested in game 13 of their 1987 match.

Therefore 11. Bd2 where white achieves serious compensation for the offered pawn, although black has never been in serious danger in the (very!) complex and long main lines.

Mar-25-12  SimonWebbsTiger: @<Cushion>

the reason no one castles before ...c5 is one of those subtleties I wouldn't know how to answer...without Garry Kasparov!

In "Revolution in the 70s", Garry devotes a chapter to the Modern/Nf3 Exchange Gruenfeld. The reason for 7...c5 appears to lie in the variation 8. Be2 Nc6!

<Black should attack the centre before castling and before the exchange on d4, so that in the event of d4-d5 he can capture the c3-pawn with check and then play ...Nd4> -- Gary Kasparov

Thus black should be in no hurry to castle, which gives white good chances to fight for an opening advantage, whereas the immediate pressure equalises.

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