I was looking through the titular variation and am confused why there are no master games with 9.dxc5. Is it simply because white doesn't want to give up the central pawn, even if they can gain a material advantage? Is that pawn that valuable in this type of game? I'd also guess that maybe the material advantage is pretty temporary since it will be hard to defend the c pawn afterward.

Opening as follows:

[fen ""]
1. d4 Nf6 
2. c4 g6
3. Nc3 d5
4. cxd5 Nxd5
5. e4 Nxc3
6. bxc3 Bg7 
7. Bc4 O-O
8. Ne2 c5 


  • You won't be up in material for long...
    – David
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 8:33

4 Answers 4


9.dxc5? is a horrible positional blunder.

The Grunfeld for black allows white a big center, and his idea is to chip away at it, or force it to advance, and then chip away at it. That center controls a lot of nice squares, and is very desirable. 9.dxc5? by white voluntarily does what black is trying to achieve in a very bad way, and worse, it turns the Bg7 into a monster. In exchange for that, you cannot even keep the pawn as black can win it two ways. It is so bad that in 5099 games in the Mega 2020 database, no one has ever played it. In addition, the eval on Stockfish goes from about +.70 to -.67 instantly.

Black can win back the pawn with Qa5, but even stronger is 9...Nd7, and the N will have an incredible c5 square as its base. I have added notes to the following line regarding other positional advantages, so be sure to read them.

 [FEN ""]

 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 O-O 8. Ne2 c5 9. dxc5? Nd7 10. O-O (10. c6 Ne5 $1 11. Qxd8 (11. cxb7 Qxd1+ 12. Kxd1 Bxb7 13. Bb3 Nd3 14. Be3 Rac8 15. Kc2 Rfd8 {There are a million ways white can play from here, but they are all losing and black is all over him.}) 11... Rxd8 {And the N gets to d3 with great effect positionally or this...} 12. c7 Rd7 13. Bb5 Rxc7 {With a huge advantage.}) 10... Nxc5 11. Qc2 Bd7 12. Rd1 Qc7 {And white has big problems down the c-file, the Bc4 is in danger (if black trades for it, the two bishops are a winning advantage in this open position), and the Ne2 is not even well-placed.}
  • 1
    Thanks for all the detail, makes sense. Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 7:47
  • @DerekAllums You are welcome. Thanks for accepting the answer. Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 9:24

it's actually impossible to keep the material advantage since after 9.dxc5 black has the move 9...Qa5 which puts a second attacker to the c3 pawn and also prepares to recapture the c5 pawn. All that white would be doing is giving up the strong center which is a huge deal in this line of the Grunfeld. Black, on the other hand, would be left with a more active queen and a 2 to 1 advantage on the Queenside. Hope this helps!


With 9. dxc5, you are giving up your central pawn duo, taking on doubled pawns, fracturing your queenside pawn structure, etc. Obviously this is not ideal, and you would only do this if you get some kind of material compensation.

But you don't get any material compensation. After 9...Qa5, you can't simultaneously defend the c3- and c5-pawns. You'd be stuck with all the positional concessions without material to compensate. Even if Black didn't have 9...Qa5, after ...Nd7 and ...Rac8 (or ...Rfc8), you won't be able to keep the c5-pawn (the c3-pawn, for that matter, would also be vulnerable).

In short, 9. dxc5 would be a massive positional blunder, weakening the position for no gain.

  • Yep, looks like that material advantage is very temporary. Thanks for the explanation. Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 7:48

When you get more experience and appreciate positional play instead of just slash and burn tactics and material advantage then you would see that the move is terrible bad and has no advantages for white.

When the dust settles black will have the initiative and material will be even and white has a weak isolated pawn.

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