The Neo-Grünfeld Defense

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Neo-Grünfeld Defense is an unusual way for white to try and challenge black’s modern approach to the opening. It’s characterized by the move Bg2, white also fianchettoes his kingside bishop. He basically copies black. But there’s a difference. White has a stronger, broader center. White has central pawns which exert more control over the key squares, while black is yet to challenge the center.

One thing that has to be pointed out is that the Neo-Grünfeld is more a setup than a variation. It has tons of theory, so the best way to go about learning it is studying the ideas, plans and patterns, instead of crude lines of theory which you are likely to forget.

It’s also transpositional. It can be entered via several different move orders, and it can also lead to the fianchetto King’s Indian. So be prepared to play an entirely different opening.

White has three main plans in the opening. The first division is whether white exchanges on d5 or allows black to exchange on c4. If white exchanges, he can then choose to follow that up either with e4 or e3. E4 is way more aggressive, leading to IQP positions, while e3 is positional and equalish. If black is allowed to take on c4, the positions tend to resemble the ones with e3 after the exchange on d5.
All three setups are playable and ok for white. I would recommend playing the main line with cxd5 and e4! It’s the critical line to challenge black!

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