The Modernized Grünfeld Defense
297 pages, paperback, Thinkers Publishing, 1. edition 2020
Yaroslav Zherebukh was born in July 1993 in Lviv, Ukraine. He earned the Grandmaster title in January of 2009 at 15.5 years of age. In 2011 Yaro participated in the World Cup where he was seeded 97 th out of 128 contestants. He won his first three matches against Pavel Eljanov, Ruben Felgaer and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov before losing to David Navara. In 2013 he moved to the United States shifting his focus to coaching and academics. In 2017 he competed in the US championship where he scored a spectacular win over world #2 Fabiano Caruana and qualified to the 2017 World Cup! He has coached a plethora of talented American youths induding world dass GM Jeffery Xiong. Besides his chess activities, Yaro holds an MS in financial economics from Saint Louis University and has experience working for private equity firms in New York City.
The Modernized Grünfeld Defense will be extremely helpful for any chess player looking for a reliable lifetime repertoire against White's 1.d4. It will benefit current Grünfeld players as Yaro unveils his analysis and numerous novelties waiting to be played over the board.
004 Key to Symbols
PART I - Exchange Variation (4.cxd5)
013 Chapter 1 - 7.Bc4
033 Chapter 2 - 7.Nf3
057 Chapter 3 - Other 7th moves
077 Chapter 4 - 5.Bd2
PART II - White plays 4. Nf3
091 Chapter 5 - 5.Qb3
113 Chapter 6 - 5.Bg5
125 Chapter 7 - 5.h4
PART III - Various 4th moves
139 Chapter 8 - 4.Bf4
161 Chapter 9 - 4.Bg5
173 Chapter 10 - 4.e3
195 Chapter 11 - 4.Qb3
PART IV - Various 3rd moves
207 Chapter 12 - 3.g3
233 Chapter 13 - 3.f3
PART V - Anti-Grünfeld
257 Chapter 14 - 5.Qa4+, 5.Qc2 and 5.Qb3
273 Chapter 15 - 5.e4, 5.h4 and 5.g3
287 Chapter 16 - 4.Qa4+
An Embarrassment of Riches: New Books on the Grünfeld reviewed by IM John Donaldson
The Modernized Grünfeld Defense by Yaroslav Zherbukh (Thinkers Publishing)
The Grünfeld enjoys a special place in the pantheon of openings. One need only recall that two of Bobby Fischer’s most famous brilliancies, played against the Byrne brothers, both featured this dynamic defense which is named after the Austrian Grandmaster Ernst Franz Grünfeld.
Back in 1971 William Hartston wrote the first book in English on the Grünfeld and over the next half century a number of excellent words have been published including a ground breaking two volume series by Boris Avrukh. Published by Quality Chess in 2011, it was over 600 pages, and set a high bar for successors. Three worthy challengers have appeared the past year. The Safest Grünfeld Reloaded (Chess Stars 2019) by Alexander Delchev is not part of this review but new books from Quality Chess and Thinkers Publishing are.
The Modernized Grünfeld Defense and Playing the Grünfeld: A Combative Repertoire are excellent, but quite different books and the easiest way to see this by comparing variations the authors recommend.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3
Zherebukh 3 ... d5
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3
Zherebukh 3 ... Bg7 4.Bg2 d5
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0-0 7.e4
Zherebukh 7 ... Nc6
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bg5
Zherebukh 5 ... dxc4
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4
Zherebukh 5 ... dxc4
One might think the authors made a secret pact not to cover the same lines, but the differences appear to be fundamental. Zherebukh, 2600 plus rated and a GM at 15, in many cases advocates for lesser or unknown systems. He believes in playing the Grünfeld aggressively and that often means sacrificing material in the lines he recommends.
Kovalchuk, who has worked as a trainer for top Russian GMs, advocates for a more mainstream approach, toning down Black’s play where he believes it warranted. This means ... c6 against the Fianchetto variation and after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4. Zherebukh seemingly never wants to play ... c6 preferring ... c5 or ... dxc4 followed up later by ... c5.
Which book to get? That is a tough question to answer. Both are first rate and to a certain extent if you already play the Grünfeld the book to get might be the one that most closely matches your existing repertoire.
Correspondence players may prefer Kovalchuk’s comprehensive approach that covers sidelines more thoroughly than Zherebukh, but the latter has done major pioneering work with novelties sprinkled throughout his book. Zherebukh’s perceptive comments, in such a theoretical opening as the Grünfeld, are helpful in orienting the reader through the unavoidable maze of variations.
Quality Chess is known for providing comprehensive indexes for its books and Playing the Grünfeld devotes seven of its pages to this important resource. The Modernized Grünfeld Defense doesn’t have an index but it does offer over 40 pages on Anti-Grunfeld lines (1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 and 4.Qa4+) while Playing the Grünfeld confines itself to 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3, 3.f3 and 3.g3.
The latter covers the sneaky 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.e3 0-0 5.Be2 hoping for 5 ... d5 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.e4 where there is no ... Nxc3 but White has spent two moves advancing his e-pawn. This system is not analyzed by Zherebukh while Kovanchuk recommends 5 ... b6 which has been the choice of Grünfeld specialists Vachier-Lagrave and Nepomniachti.
Whichever your choice and my recommendation finances permitting would be to get both books, keep in mind there is no free lunch in chess. The Grunfeld has a well-deserved reputation as one of Black’s best answers to 1.d4, with no clear route to a White advantage. However, it does require a significant amount of theoretical knowledge. Zherebukh suggests memorizing the first fifteen moves of each major line as the bare minimum and offers various tips on how to do so.
If this sounds daunting check out the third book on the Grunfeld which is actually an all-purpose system for White to combat the Grünfeld and King’s Indian with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3. 2700 rated Grandmaster Ivan Cheparinov covers all of Black’s possibilities from transposing into the Sämisch, Benoni and Grünfeld (3 ... d6 , 3 ... c5 and 3 ... d5) to lesser known alternatives like 3 ... Nc6 and 3 ... e6. To say Cheparinov’s coverage is exhaustive would be an understatement and it is easy to see why he was Topalov’s second during his days as World Champion. The lines in this book routinely go 20 to 25 moves deep and in some cases up to move 40!
Explanatory prose is provided to assist the reader but concrete lines are the heart of Cheparinov’s 1.d4! Volume 1 King’s Indian & Grünfeld Some amateurs might mistakenly believe they can reproduce Cheparinov’s analysis using a strong computer engine but they would be grossly mistaken. It takes a world class grandmaster with a strong work ethic and deep knowledge of opening theory to produce a work like this which is aimed only at the most serious and ambitious.
IM John Donaldson
Nur selten ist zu beobachten, dass verschiedene Verlage im selben Jahr hervorragende Bücher auf den Markt bringen, die das gleiche Thema zum Gegenstand haben. Dies ist in 2020 mit Zherebukh "The Modernized Grünfeld Defense“ (Verlag Thinkers Publishing) und Kovalchuk "Playing the Grünfeld - A Combative Repertoire“ (Verlag Quality Chess) geschehen.
Da beide Werke viele Parallelen aufweisen, erscheint eine gemeinsame Besprechung ratsam.
Und dieses ist ihnen gemein:
- Für Schwarzspieler geschrieben
- Große Übersichtlichkeit durch Balkenüberschriften
- Üppige Ausstattung mit Diagrammen
- Varianten-Index vor jedem Kapitel
- Zusammenfassung des Kapitelinhalts am Buchende oder nach jedem Kapitel
- Hinweis auf gespielte Partien
- Weitgehende Einigkeit über Variantenbewertung
- Fülle von theoretischen Neuerungen.
Doch warten beide Werke auch mit markanten Besonderheiten auf. Kovalchuk bietet im Vorspann eine kurze Vorschau der 16 Kapitel an, die darüber berichtet, welches Repertoire der Autor vorschlägt. Ferner schiebt er in sein Werk bei besonders bedeutsamen Varianten sieben ausführlich analysierte Meisterpartien ein. Da sein Werk um zwei Drittel umfangreicher ist, reichen seine breiter und tiefer angelegten Analysen häufig bis in Mittelspielstrukturen.
Zherebukh wiederum lässt drei Kapitel über "Anti-Grünfeld“ einfließen, bei dem Weiß nicht 1.d4 spielt. Auch fällt positiv die deutliche optische Unterscheidung zwischen Hauptvariante (größeres Diagramm, Fettdruck) und Nebenvariante (kleines Diagramm, Varianten in Schwachdruck) auf.
Dass sich beide Autoren allen Abspielen der Grünfeld-Verteidigung annehmen, versteht sich von selbst.
Fazit: Ein harmonisches Duo, das keine Wünsche des Grünfeld-Spielers offen lässt! Besonders zu empfehlen!
Heinz Däubler, Oberpfalz Medien