15 November 2007

Opening Exchange Sac [D89]

The position in the diagram arises after the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 O-O 9.O-O Nc6 10.Be3 cxd4 11.cxd4 Bg4 12.f3 Na5 13.Bd3 Be6. The first time I encountered it was as White in a pre-Internet correspondence game where I had opened 1.d4 instead of my usual 1.e4.

Gruenfeld D89

(After 13.Bg4-e6)
[FEN "r2q1rk1/pp2ppbp/4b1p1/n7/3PP3/3BBP2/P3N1PP/R2Q1RK1 w - - 0 14"]

White has the choice between 14.d5, sacrificing the exchange, and 14.Rc1. I spent hours analyzing the sacrifice, couldn't get a grip on which side was better, finally chickened out, and played 14.Rc1. The game was eventually drawn.

I sometimes wondered what verdict had finally been delivered by theory on the variation. I was surprised to find that it was the subject of a recent article on Chess.com, An exchange sacrifice to beat the Grunfeld.

You probably know the most recent games where this moves order was played: Topalov - Shirov (Wijk aan Zee 2007), Aronian - Shirov (Elista WCM 2007). But what about the oldest ones? Some are really brilliant and I'm going to show you one of them.

The stem game for the 14.d5 variation appears to have been played in 1950. How is it possible that after almost 60 years and hundreds of games, the sacrifice is still being explored? The first of the games mentioned by the Chess.com article is at...

Veselin Topalov vs Alexey Shirov, Corus 2007

...on Chessgames.com.

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