Can this move order be considered a good surprise weapon against 1.d4 players since the Marshall Defense is known to be dubious and now black is trying to transpose it to a Gruenfeld. From my experience I have faced this once in OTB many years ago and was happy to see 2.. d5 until 3.. g6 happened

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1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d5 3. cxd5 g6  
  • 1
    I have not analysed, but I suppose a check on a4 will be critical, e.g. 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qa4 Bd7 (5...Nbd7 6.Nc3 ; 5...Qd7 6.Qxd7) 6.Qb3. Do you have an idea about how Black should react there ?
    – Evargalo
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 14:20

2 Answers 2


Black can only transpose to the Grunfeld if you play Nc3, so there are other candidate moves you can try to prove Blacks play is unsound. (The idea being that we want to play e4 against Nxd5 and Black can't play Nd5xc3 or if Qxd5 then Nc3 gains time).

a. 4.f3
b. 4.Nf3
c. 4.h4!? etc.

4.f3 seems the most annoying as the thread of e4 requires immediate attention.

I don't see a good response. Either capture on d5 is losing time along with the center. Black can otherwise try a pawn sac like 4...c6 but the compensation looks inadequate.

  • The line 1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nf6 3. cxd5 g6 4. f3 c6 5. e4 cxd5 6. e5 Nh5 looks like some type of Norwegian Rat for Black
    – B.Swan
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 18:41
  • 1
    I suppose @Ywapom 's idea was to keep the extra pawn with 5.dc6 Nc6 6.e3, e.g. 6...e5!? 7.de5 Qa5 8.Nc3 Qe5 9.Bb5 and Black's slight development advantage doesn't seem to be enough for the pawn.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 14:02

This is effectively a pawn-down gambit line for Black. If you're going to play it, be psychologically prepared. White does not have to go for the Grunfeld if they don't want to. The key line is 4. Qa4+, and then:

  • 4...c6 5. dxc6 is a pawn down gambit. 5...Nxc6 6. e3 - Black has a slight lead in development and White's queen is somewhat exposed, but White also has strong central control & an extra pawn.
  • 4...Bd7 5. Qb3 (threatening Qxb7) with complicated play. 5...c6 is kind of forced now, and White can decide if they want to keep the extra pawn with 6. dxc6 or 6. Nc3 or get greedy and play 6. Qxb7.
  • 4...Nbd7 (or 4...Nfd7) 5. Nc3 intending 6. e4 and Black chokes to death. Note White keeps the extra pawn in this line as well.
  • 4...Qd7? 5. Qxd7+ of course White exchanges queens since they are up material.

The Lichess database gives +6=14-1 in this line (+5=7-0 after 4. Qa4+), so it's certainly a dangerous choice for Black. On the other hand, many 2500+ players have played this, so it's something you can potentially catch unprepared opponents with.

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