David Fox
By Joel Benjamin   
February 8, 2007
Dear Joel,

First of all it is a privilege to ask you a question and I would be rather honored if you responded.

I have been playing a line for White against the Grunfeld for years and I cannot find any games except my little collection from which I have played over the years. I am wondering if this is really something new or if I'm just not able to find the games in which it has been played.

My line is in the Grunfeld Exchange variation D86. I first tried it out in correspondence chess in the mid 90's and have had great success with it. I've never lost and have drawn several higher rated players-- it seems to perplex them. I know that you have several e-mails that you go through so if you can check into this I would love it!

The moves are as follows:

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 c5...Now here is what I have been doing... 8. d5!?

Position after 8.d5!?

Now if they decide to take the pawn then I am fairly confident that I have analyzed this very well but I am no GM and far from it!! The scenario usually goes like this:

8...Bxc3+ 9.Bd2 (...Bxd2+ 10.Qxd2 0-0 11. e5) Bxa1 10. Qxa1

Position after Qxa1

The variations are numerous and here are the most common:

10...f6 11. Nf3 Bg4 12. Ng5
10...0-0 11. Bh6 f6 12. d6+ Rf7 13. Nf3 Qxd6 14. Ng5

These are the few of the many games that I have on this move, usually if I play opponents more than once with this they give up on taking the c3 pawn.

Thank you,
David Fox

Well, when you ask me so nicely I just have to take your question.

I was surprised I could not find a single example of 8.d5 on the database; after all, just about everything has been tried by someone.

Normally White likes to keep the e4/d4 "pawn duo" intact. Black should be okay with normal moves.

Position after 12...e6

One possible line is 8... 0-0 9.Ne2 Nd7 10.0-0 Ne5 11.Bb3 c4 12. Bc2 e6 13.f4 Nd3 14.Bxd3 cxd3 15.Qxd3 exd5 and Black will have excellent compensation if White tries to hold the pawn.

But as someone who once had a Q&A column used to say, "the only way to refute a gambit is to accept it." Here your idea doesn't hold up under analysis. In the line you give after 12.Ng5, Black can claim a clear advantage after 12... 0-0 13.d6+ Kg7 14.Be6 h6!

Joel's analysis after 12.Ng5 results in a winning position for Black.

Black can also take the pawn but not the rook. 8... Bxc3+ 9.Bd2 Qa5 makes sense.

The in between option: Take the pawn, but not the rook.

After 10.Nf3 (My Fritz 8 claims White is very slightly better after 10.Rc1 Bxd2+ 11.Qxd2 Qxd2+ 12.Kxd2, but I think it might be on cyber-drugs) 10... Bxd2+ 11.Nxd2 b5 White is short on compensation.

Objectively, this all doesn't work for White. So sadly, GMs will not likely rush to launch your gambit into practice. Still, many players are not comfortable ceding their fianchettoed bishop so early, and the further concession with f7-f6 or Rh8-g8 adds to the stress of Black's position. So White might well have decent practical chances on the club level, though I would sooner play 8.d5 over-the-board than in correspondence!

I applaud your original approach to the openings and wish you well with further experiments. I just hope that I have not dealt your surprise value a critical blow!

Joel Benjamin