Larry Kaufman, Sabotage the Gruenfeld: A Cutting-Edge Repertoire for White based on 3.f3 (New in Chess, 2014). 187 pp., $24.95/€19.95. Reviewed by Dennis Monokroussos.
The Gruenfeld Defense may be Black's #1 choice against 1.d4 at the top level, and this has been so for the last several years. Important books have been coming out defending Black's cause (not to mention Peter Svidler's video series on Chess24), so the burden on White has been growing. Larry Kaufman has stepped in to fill the gap with a book advocating (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6) 3.f3 as the solution to White's troubles. He has written some fine repertoire books over the years, and has also written some strong opening books for Rybka (in its heyday) and has more recently been heavily involved in developing Komodo. That he is a computer specialist is well-known, and this is the first book I've seen where the evaluations are given with computer numbers - e.g. White is +.79 or +.36, etc. The computer evaluations are likely to be pretty stable, too, as he checked "virtually everything" in the book for at least 15 minutes with Komodo and Houdini 3 (and later Houdini 4) on eight core and twelve core machines.
The book has five chapters. Chapter 1 is a historical chapter, offering 24 games played from 1929 up until 1997. It serves to introduce some of the key ideas and variations. Chapter 2 presents relatively minor third move alternatives for Black, most notably Adorjan's 3...e5, 3...Nc6 (which he recommended in his most recent repertoire book), Vachier-Lagrave's 3...e6, and then attempted Benonis and Benko Gambits starting with 3...c5. I say attempted, especially in case of the Benoni, because Kaufman's proposed repertoire steers it towards a Saemisch King's Indian - about which more will be said below.
Chapter 3 is the "official" Gruenfeld chapter, in which the principled 3...d5 is essayed. The central line arises after 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nb6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 Qd6 10.Kb1 Rd8 11.Nb5 Qd7 12.d5 a6 13.Nc3. This is a hot line, and important new games are taking place here all the time (see for example Carlsen-Caruana from round 3 of the ongoing Norway Chess tournament).
Chapters 4 and 5 look at what happens if Black decides to meet 3.f3 with a King's Indian instead. Chapter 4 looks at lines with ...c5, while chapter 5 looks at everything else. This gives the book added value: if you need a repertoire against both the Gruenfeld and the King's Indian, you can kill two birds with one stone. Interestingly, Kaufman doesn't think the Saemisch (which is what 3.f3 will turn into against the King's Indian) is the best way to meet the King's Indian, but does think that White achieves a "normal" advantage with it. It's good enough, in his view!
Finally, the book ends with 25 exercises and their solutions. It makes for a nice pre- and post-test of some key theoretical ideas, and also serves as a fun set of tactical exercises. (It isn't all tactics, but that does make up a significant component of that material.)
Recommended for strong club players (1800-1900) and up, at least if they are looking for something to play against the Gruenfeld and/or the King's Indian. Similarly, it is recommended to players of the same range who play those openings and want to know what they can start to expect from their opponents.