This opening gives White a big center and aims to destroy it. I have trouble playing the exchange variation as White because Black has great piece activity while my pieces are stuck in passive positions. Is there another variation which also allows White to get a big center while minimising problems?

  • 3
    Have a look at the Russian System: 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3. You still get the d4-e4 center, but your queen is in the middle of the board now. Also I would recommend you to look at 5. Bd2 in the Exchange Variation, it throws many players off and you avoid the typical Exchange structure. But you will be asked question in every variation of the Grunfeld, that is what makes the opening sound in the first place. You get the center and have to care for it, Black gets to make problems.
    – B.Swan
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 23:06
  • 1
    I had the same issue too because c5, Bg7 and knights: a lot of pressure on d4 pawn. I was looking for something solid and relieving the pressure on d4. I tried Makogonov Variation 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.e3 0-0 6.b4. I can say it worked for me, at least I got some decent wins and not losing easily, I liked the logic of playing b4, I think it slows down the pressure by c5. I am an amateur (sub 2000 ELO). In this variation you may want to put your queen on b3, bishop on b2 or a3, the white colored bishop to e2 or c4... I think you have a good space and it may be out of comfort zone of black.
    – sedergine
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 4:53
  • 1
    Any issue with playing a 2.Nf3 order when trying to fit into the rest of your repertoire?
    – David
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 6:41

1 Answer 1


I think Bronstein had the right idea in the Exchange Grunfeld against Boleslavsky in the 1st game of the 1950 candidates final. It costs a little material, but it's White who got the active pieces, while the center expanded.

[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]
[Event "Bronstein - Boleslavsky Candidates Playoff"]
[Site "Moscow URS"]
[Date "1950.07.31"]
[EventDate "1950.07.31"]
[Round "1"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "David Bronstein"]
[Black "Isaac Boleslavsky"]
[ECO "D87"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "63"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3
c5 7. Bc4 Bg7 8. Ne2 O-O 9. O-O cxd4 10. cxd4 Nc6 11. Be3 Bg4
12. f3 Na5 13. Bd3 Be6 14. d5 Bxa1 15. Qxa1 f6 16. Bh6 Qb6+
17. Kh1 Rfd8 18. Rb1 Qc5 19. Bd2 b6 20. Bb4 Qc7 21. Rc1 Qb7
22. Qb1 Rab8 23. dxe6 Nc6 24. Bc3 Ne5 25. Bb5 Rbc8 26. Bxe5
Rxc1+ 27. Qxc1 fxe5 28. Bd7 Qa6 29. Ng3 Qxa2 30. h4 Rf8
31. Qg5 Rf6 32. Qxf6 1-0
  • Nice exchange sac. I think I might have seen something like this before.
    – user24344
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 6:01
  • 1
    It ought to be a familiar idea to players who want to play the Exchange, yeah? When Purdy wrote about "the myth of the pawn center", he cited the Exchange Grunfeld as the best example of pawn centers that lack potential. I think this exchange sacrifice energizes 4. cxd5. Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 6:11

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