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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Win with the Grob Attack

      The Grob Attack, also known as the Spike, is characterized by 1 g2-g4. This opening was pioneered by the Swiss International Master, Henry Grob (1904-1974), who analyzed it extensively. It was also extensively analyzed by the infamous US “master” Claude F. Bloodgood III.
      The Grob Attack is tactical and dangerous. That is, dangerous for both players! I have successfully used it in CC play against players as high as 1900. Against players rated above that it’s just too risky to play but it is an especially good try in blitz. White intends to pressure the long diagonal of light squares while also threatening to launch a Kingside pawn storm.
      I made a pdf booklet on the Grob from the database of Bloodgood’s games and added a short bio which can be downloaded HERE.  I’d advise that before purchasing a more serious work on the opening such as The Killer Grob, you take a look at the pdf booklet.

Bloodgood wrote in the introduction to his book: "Grob's Attack is a basic gambit unlike anything else in modern chess theory. Every basic concept of development and piece placement must be discarded once 1. g4 has been played, and this applies to the player with Black even more than to the player with White. Accepting the gambit pawn in the Grob is accepting immediate problems, but it has been my experience that players facing this for the first time are most likely to do just that."

On rare occasions well-known players like Keres, Basman, and Skembris have used 1.g4!? to good effect. The Grob is a great opening to play for its surprise effect and because of its tactical nature, the tactically better player will often catch unsuspecting opponents.

I'd suggest that if you want to have some fun in blitz games you might want to try the Grob Attack. Here's a quick look at some possibilities:
1. g4 d5

2. Bg2 Bxg4
3. c4
This position occurs very frequently. Black has four main lines of play from this point, each with its own peculiar problems. 3...dxc4? is obviously no answer, so Black not only can't take the second pawn, but must defend his d-pawn even though it cannot be held. The first three lines considered are attempts to hold the center by defending the black d-pawn: 3... c6; 3... Nf6!?; 3... e6. The fourth line, 3... e5!? is an attempt to avoid the problems of defending the d-pawn, but it has not fared well in practice.

1.g4 d5
2.Bg2 c6
This solid defensive line is an attempt by Black to move the game into positional situations rather than meet the tactical possibilities resulting from 2...Bxg4!? White has several playable alternatives: "Double Gambit" 3. c4; "Short Spike' 3. h3; and the "Spike" 3. g5.  I've had good luck with 3.c4 followed by playing Qb3.

The Open Defense
1.g4 d5
2.Bg2 e5

This basic line of play is both sharp and double edged. Black must be prepared for a tactical battle, but one which is by no means one-sided. White can play: 3.e4!? or 3.c4

Other lines after 1... d5
1.g4 d5
2.Bg2 e6
This passive defense is tempting, and the aggressive player may well wish to attempt to break it open quickly, but it is not weak by any means and should be treated with respect.  Black has a number of other playable alternatives which for the most part have not been examined in any detail.

1.g4 d5
2.Bg2 b5
This is the line with the most possibilities. Other moves are also playable. 2...Nc6 3.c4!, 2...c5 3.g5, 2...Nd7 3.d3
3.e4 dxe4 4.Bxe4 c6 5.h3 Nf6 6.Bg2 Be6

1... e5
1.g4 e5 2.Bg2
Several lines not recommended for White here include: 2.c4? h5!, 2.e4? d5! and 2.d4!?

1.g4 e5 2.d3
This move offers White a bit more initiative. The variations after 2.d3 are: 2... h6; 2... h5; 2... Nc6; 2... Be7; 2... Bc5; 2... d6;

1... Various
For all practical purposes, 1... d5 or 1... e5 are the only moves which present White with any immediate problems. This does not mean that White need not be concerned with other possible answers, for virtually any move can develop into a serious test.


  1. Hi,

    i am very interested in your pdf booklet, but unfortunately the 4shared link isnt active anymore ? Could you please reupload or send it to me somehow ?

  2. I quit using 4Shared due to various problems they have had with spammers and their refusal to address the issue. See the post at:

    I switched to Dropbox and it’s available from the list on the right. However you can also read more information about Bloodgood from the excellent site Chessville. You can also download the complete ebook on the Tactical Grob by Bloodgood from them.

    Information on Bloodgood:

    ebook of the Tactical Grob

  3. Hi Tartajubow, Thanks for the cool site! I have been using dropbox lately. It's a simple, straightforward P2P.

    Hey, if you have the time, check out my Grob Attack repertoire (5000 Lines/Games) I built with Houdini at the following link:


    Besy regards, Sean.

    1. How comes that although you say you were playing professionally, I can't find you in FIDE or USCF ladders?

  4. May be because he hasn't given his real name. Tarta ... jubow. Hmm?

  5. Is Mr. Tartajubow still around here? I'm finding the Grob fascinating. I've played about 40 games with it and still learning. Am a 1500 player and running about 65% wins with it so far. Often Black doesn't take the g4 bait. . . so when should White finally push his h pawn to protect the g4 pawn? What conditions should be in place?

  6. I've experienced similar results and also find many opponents shy away from taking the g-Pawn. Even then it's usually not necessary to play h2-h3 at all. Looking in the database of my games, I found the only two times I played h2-h3 was two games were after 1.g4 d5 2.Bg2 e5 3.c4 black played 3...d4. I elected to play 4.h3 because it looked like the game was headed for a closed position and I didn't want to offer a P because of the likelihood of reduced tactical possibilities in a closed position. That said, if black ignores the P and just completes his development then it is probably a good idea to play an early h3 otherwise if black does capture the g-Pawn you might find you are just down a P with no compensation. I have run into that situation a couple of times.

  7. Thanks for the answer. Yes, I've ended up a pawn down till into the end game, because of Black getting that one g4 pawn.
    When Black has his 2 center pawns out, I have always played d4 instead of c4. I tried c4 once and if he takes, it seems to keep your Q out of b3! And taking my N to the rim and nabbing his c4 pawn seems to take too long; I have to attend to other things before getting to it. Maybe I'm playing it wrong.
    Anyway, loving this Grob! Usually, at our local OTB club, it takes me an hour or longer to beat the 1400 players, but have been destroying them in about 15 moves, then they resign, with the Grob. So I'm 100% against them. But...We have 1 1700 player who I ran it against. He took the g4 right away. Game went like this: 1. g4 d5 2. Bg2 Bxg4 3. c4 c6 4. Qb3 Bc8! (this move surprised me, he made it very quickly)
    5. cxd5 Nf6 6. Nc3 cxd5 7. Nxd5 Nc6 8. Nxf6+ exf6
    9. Bxc6+ bxc6 That's all I remember. I figure he must have been booked up to this point. He made that Bc8 move so quickly. He went on to beat me.
    Good to talk to someone about the Grob! JD

  8. Can the Grob be played well against the English opening? Can you get to the perfect 10 move position against it?

  9. By played against the English I assume you mean 1.c4 g5. The answer is yes. Hugh Meyers analyzed it years ago. Eric Schiller looks at it on chess.com here

  10. After 1. g4 d5 2. Bg2 Bxg4 3.c4 the moves dxc4 and (even better) d4 deserve consideration as 4. Bxb7 Nd7 5. Bxa8 Qxa8 gives White a horrible position to defend.

  11. I think you are correct. In The Tactical Grob Claude Bloodgood questioned 3...dxc4 (incorrectly I think) and doesn't even consider d4 (which I like). After 4.Bxd7 Nd7 instead of taking the R white could probably play 5.Nf3 but even then his position does not so good. I would try 4.Qb3.