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Hi everyone,
I must confess that it looks like I've turned this month into a mini 'who can find the latest novelty' competition (and I mean 'latest' as in 'deepest into the game' rather than 'most recently played'). American GM Alex Yermolinsky seemed to have won the prize with an important idea on move 25 in the Benoni Flick-Knife Attack, but this was convincingly trumped by Sasikiran, who came up with a strong improvement over a previous game... on move 31!
This month we check out the Benoni, Nimzo Indian and Queen's Indian, while guest contributor Richard Palliser looks back at some recent action in the Tango.

Remember, if you have any opinions, ideas or questions, please either make yourself heard at the Forum (the link above on the right) or subscribers can email me at

Download PGN of August '07 Nimzo and Benoni games

Modern Benoni: Flick-Knife Attack

We kick off with the game Yermolinsky - Pruess, San Francisco 2007, which featured probably the sharpest and most controversial line of the whole Benoni complex: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 f4 Bg7 8 Bb5+ Nbd7 9 e5 dxe5 10 fxe5 Nh5 11 e6 Qh4+ 12 g3 Nxg3 13 hxg3 Qxh1 14 Be3 Bxc3+ 15 bxc3 a6 16 exd7+ Bxd7 17 Bxd7+ Kxd7:

Yermolinsky played 18 Qb3 (White's alternative is to force the exchange of queens and try to make something of the two minor pieces in the endgame: either with 18 Qf3, or 18 Qg4+ f5 and only then 19 Qf3) and a few moves later he came up with a strong novelty (25 Kc2!) which appears to put Black firmly on the back foot. But is Black even forced to allow the novelty?

Queen's Indian: 4 g3 Ba6

Here's a line that's been hotly debated by the World's elite over recent months: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 b3 Bb4+ 6 Bd2 Be7 7 Bg2 c6 8 Bc3 d5 9 Ne5 Nfd7 10 Nxd7 Nxd7 11 Nd2 0-0 12 0-0 Rc8 13 e4 c5 14 exd5 exd5 15 dxc5 dxc4 16 c6 cxb3 17 Re1 b2 18 Bxb2 Nc5 19 Nc4 Bxc4 20 Qg4 Bg5 21 Qxc4 Nd3 22 Be5 Nxe1 23 Rxe1 Bf6 24 Bxf6 Qxf6 25 c7 Qd6 26 Rc1 b5 27 Qc2 b4 28 Bb7:

Initially this position was thought to be okay for Black, but recent games have suggested more and more that Black is on the precipice, and might actually be losing by force! I would be reluctant to make any sweeping statements because new developments are always possible, but my suspicion is that in future Black players will be steering well clear of this position.

In Sasikiran - Shirov, Foros 2007, the Indian GM followed Ivanchuk-Aronian, Monte Carlo 2007, before deviating on move 31 with what I believe is an even stronger move than Ivanchuk's choice. The endgame should be winning for White, but the story doesn't end there...

Nimzo Indian/Queen's Indian Hybrid

The line 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 c4 b6 4 Nc3 Bb4 5 Bg5 Bb7 6 Nd2 h6 7 Bh4 continues to be popular:

Black has played quite a few moves here, including 7...Bxc3, 7...c5, 7...Be7 and 7...0-0. The seemingly anti-positional 7...Nc6 is another idea that has been gathering supporters. After 8 e3, Karpov has played 8...Bxc3 here, without the provocation of a2-a3. But 8...Ne7!? is also possible. I like this ...Ne7-f5 idea, which I believe was first played by Danny Gormally in a game against Simon Williams. Even though Danny lost the game I remember thinking it looked like quite a promising line for Black to try. And in N.Pert-Aagaard, British Championship 2007, it really couldn't have worked out any better for Black.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 d5

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 h6 7 Bh4 c5 8 dxc5:

Virtually all the focus in recent years has been on the mega-sharp variations arising from Short's 8...g5 9 Bg3 Ne4 10 e3 Qa5, unsurprisingly so given that Black has enjoyed a fair share of success in this line. But it's noticeable that a few GMs - Short himself included - have recently returned to the older 8...Nc6. In the game M.Gurevich-Kuzubov, Gibraltar 2007, the young Ukrainian GM makes a good case for this move.

The Tango

(by Richard Palliser)

It's been some time since both the Tango was covered on this site and my work Tango! was published. Thus I'm grateful to John for the chance to have a look at some recent developments in the opening.

We begin by examining 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 Nc6 3 Nc3 e5 4 d5 Ne7 after which White must be careful not to drift into a planless position:

To avoid such a scenario he usually employs a rapid advance of his h-pawn. In Von Herman-Hausrath, the leading German Tango exponent doesn't meet 5 Nf3 Ng6 6 h4 in quite the best manner, but still wins an attractive miniature. However, in Chetverik - Lonnoy the boot is on the other foot: Black quickly losing his way after 5 e4 (the prophylactic 5 h4!? also receives some coverage here) 5...Ng6 6 h4.

Grandmasters nowadays tend to respond to Black's slightly offbeat opening with 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 Nc6 3 Nf3 and after 3...e6 either transpose to a Nimzo with 4 Nc3 Bb4 or prefer the critical 4 a3. Following 4...d6 5 Nc3 g6 White is at a crossroads:

6 g3 along with 6 Bg5 is considered in Shulman - Benjamin and the more critical 6 e4 in Relange - Rozentalis. The good news for Black is that he currently appears to be holding his own here after both 6...Bg7 7 Be2 0-0 8 Be3 and 7 h3!?.

Till next time, John