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After one or two months of neglect, it's time to take another look at the ever popular and increasingly more theoretical 4 Qc2 Nimzo this month. Out of all of the variations in the Nimzo-Indian, the Classical is the one that seems to produce the most new ideas, at least in the critical variations, and many of the lines still seem a long way from being "played out".

Feel free to share your ideas and opinions on the Forum (the link above on the right), while subscribers with any questions can email me at

Download PGN of April '08 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2 d5

We begin with the game Dreev - Delchev, French League 2008, and the line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 dxc4 7 Qxc4 b6 8 Bf4:

This attack on c7 has recently become popular (8 Nf3 has been the main move) chiefly because after 8...Ba6 it has been found that the pawn grab with 9 Qxc7 causes Black more problem than previously thought. This remains for the moment the critical way to meet 8...Ba6, but Dreev instead chose to play safe with 9 Qa4+ Qd7 and now the new move 10 Qd1. Dreev does succeed in gaining a very slight edge, but I don't really believe 9 Qa4+ is a move to worry Black unduly, and I think the notes to the game reflect this.

In Eames - Buckley, Brentwood 2008, Black plays the novelty 8...0-0!?. With this move Black prepares to answer 9 Qxc7 with 9...Qxd4, and he also eliminates the possibility of (8...Ba6) 9 Qa4+. The game continued 9 Nf3 Ba6 10 Qxc7 Qd5!? when Black obtains reasonable compensation, but in the notes I also look at the critical 9 Bxc7!.

The Romanishin Gambit is an excellent example of important new ideas cropping up in the 4 Qc2 Nimzo. It's continuing to be a headache for White players, and certainly no clear way has been found to obtain an advantage. Nezar - Roussel Roozmon, Nancy 2008, began 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 c5 7 dxc5 d4 8 Qc2 (8 Qg3 is also discussed in the notes).

Black follows some analysis from Richard Palliser, who has previously covered the Romanishin Gambit both on and in the book Dangerous Weapons: The Nimzo-Indian. After 14 moves Black has the makings of a promising kingside attack, and three moves later a stunning knight sacrifice leaves White in a totally lost position!

Roussel Roozmon-Landa, Nancy 2008, is a good demonstration of how even a very strong Grandmaster can get it horribly wrong in the opening. The only question is whether after 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 c5 7 dxc5 h6 8 Bh4 g5 9 Bg3 Ne4 10 e3:

Landa's 10...Bf5?? was a finger slip or some very dodgy preparation? In any case White is virtually winning here, as the notes to the game show.

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2 0-0

Laznicka - Khairullin, Moscow 2008, began 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d6 7 Bg5 Nbd7 8 e3 b6 9 Ne2:

Black's main move here has been 9...Bb7 which transposes to a position we've covered quite a bit (see for example the notes to Morozevich-Beliavsky, Crete 2007). In this game Khairullin opted for 9...c5 10 Rd1 Qc7 11 Qc2 Ba6!?, demonstrating the flexibility gained when not committing the light-squared bishop, something Black does with 6...b6 followed by 7...Bb7 or 7...Ba6. Certainly White was unable to pose Black any real problems in this game and it will be interesting to see whether experts on the White side will be able to come up with anything to test Black here.

In Dearing - Emms, London League 2008, my opponent avoided the main move 7 Bg5, instead preferring 7 f3:

I must admit I was struggling to remember what Black was supposed to do against this move (although there's more than one way Black can play). I did vaguely remember some Korchnoi game with ...c5 (one, as it happens, I annotated for ChessPub!), but during the game I couldn't recall exactly what he played, and whether it was in this variation or something similar. It was indeed in this variation and I ended up inadvertently following his game, but not up to his equalising recommendation.

Finally this month, we look at Dreev - Zhou Jianchao, Moscow 2008: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 b6 7 Bg5 Bb7 8 Nf3

Before Bareev's idea of e3 and Ne2-c3 came into fashion, Nf3-d2, fighting to control e4 and adding defence to c4, was White's more likely knight manoeuvre. In recent years it has been seen much less often, probably because it's no longer seen as being critical. Even so it remains an important line, and in this game I cover one or two things that have been happening over the past year or so.

Till next time, John