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This month is a little bit different to usual. I've decided to focus entirely on one line, the Macieja Variation of the Nimzo-Indian. Fellow ChessPublishing contributor David Vigorito, who wrote Challenging the Nimzo-Indian, reckons it's clearly Black's best line if he wants to play 4 Qc2 c5, and some up-to-date coverage on this site is probably overdue.

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 '10 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo-Indian: Macieja Variation

The Macieja Variation is reached after the moves 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 c5 5 dxc5 0-0 6 a3 Bxc5 7 Nf3 b6:

This variation was so named by Vigorito as an acknowledgement to the Polish grandmaster's considerable influence in its early development. Nowadays there are plenty of grandmasters who are willing to enter this line, and this must be at least partially due of his efforts.

White's two main choices here are (A) 8 Bg5 and (B) 8 Bf4. Other moves are possible but offer little chance of a theoretical advantage.

(A) The main line after 8 Bg5 runs 8...Bb7 9 e4 h6 10 Bh4 Be7 11 Bh4 Nh5!:

This is a typical way to free Black's position and gain counterplay, and it has proved to be quite successful in practice. This is covered in the games Lapcevic - Enchev, Bucharest 2010, and Nikolov - Predojevic, Rijeka 2010.

A rare but more dangerous option for White is to castle queenside. Black has found it difficult to deal with this approach. See the game Esen - Erdogdu, Warsaw 2005, for the problems Black can face after 8...Bb7 9 e4 h6 10 Bh4 Be7 11 0-0-0:

Black has an extra option in this line if he delays ...h6 for a move, as he did in Kurukin - Vladimirov, Moscow 2007, with 8...Bb7 9 e4 Be7 10 0-0-0, and the evidence suggests that this might well prove to be an important nuance.

(B) The main line after 8 Bf4 is currently 8...Bb7 9 Rd1 Nc6:

Here White has a choice between the aggressive 10 b4 and the more restrained 10 e3.

After 10 b4 Be7 11 e4! Black is in danger of suffocation, and at the moment this looks like a very promising line for White. See Dearing - Morrison, Sunningdale 2008.

The zwischenzug 10...Nh5 (instead of 10...Be7) would be my choice:

In Krush - Adams, Edmonton 2009, Black managed to free his position by sacrificing his d7-pawn and the resulting complications didn't look unfavourable for him.

10 e3 is less ambitious, but Black still has to play accurately or else he could end up in trouble. In Bu Xiangzhi-Tomashevsky, Nizhnij Novgorod 2007, Black again sacrificed his d7-pawn. On this occasion though, it doesn't seem completely justified and I think there are better options for him.

Till next time, John