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This month we again look at new ideas for both colours in the Nimzo-Indian and Modern Benoni.

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 August '09 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2 0-0

The theory of the trendy line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5!? is continuing to develop at pace, and this month includes two new games.

In Morozevich - Alekseev, Biel 2009, White tried 7 cxd5 Ne4 8 Qc2 exd5 and now 9 Bf4!? which had been suggested here as an alternative to previously played 9 e3.

This is a novelty, but a shared one! On the very same day, 9 Bf4 was also played in T.Wiley-C.Balogh, Arinsal 2009. In both games Black sacrificed the c-pawn with 9...Bf5!?, with mixed results - one win for White, one for Black.

Another critical move for White is 7 Bg5. We've looked at this move previously, and G.Lorscheid-V.Babula, Pardubice 2009, seems only to confirm that Black can gain excellent counterplay with the brave 7...c5!; after either 8 dxc5 d4, as played in the game, or 8 cxd5 cxd4 9 Qxd4 Nc6! covered in the notes.

Can Black avoid the Sämisch?

Before you ask, I don't mean after 4 a3, when any attempts range between terrible (4...Be7? 5 e4) and suicidal (4...Ba5??); but rather 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 c5 6 a3:

Normally this just transposes to the mainline Sämisch following 6...Bxc3+ 7 bxc3. But what happens if Black doesn't want to play along? After all, with the traditional Sämisch move-order 4 a3 Bxc3+ 5 bxc3, there are a few lines in which Black delays or omits ...c7-c5 (e.g. 5...Ne4), and there may be some players who, for whatever reason, simply don't want to enter the main lines of the Sämisch as Black.

Does Black have a choice? 6...cxd4!? is a rare move; in fact I can only find 20 games on my database. However, on the evidence of the analysis in Corrales Jimenez-Guimaraes, Sao Paulo 2009 (where White plays 7 axb4) and the old game Kataev - Dolmatov, Moscow 1983 (with 7 exd4), this looks like a pretty reasonable alternative for Black, and possibly even a way to try to confuse White into entering a line he is unfamiliar with.

Something Out of Nothing?

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 c4 d5 4 Nc3 Bb4 5 e3 0-0 6 Bd3 c5 7 0-0 dxc4 8 Bxc4 Nbd7 9 Qe2 b6 is a major line of the Rubinstein Variation, with hundreds of games reaching this position:

Here White invariably chooses between 10 Rd1 and the sharp 10 d5, but what about 10 dxc5!? here? At first sight it looks totally innocuous, and in the final analysis this could yet prove to be the case, but any novelty played by Kramnik (and later repeated by Grischuk) deserves some respect. See the notes to Grischuk - Grigoriants, Mainz 2009, to discover some hidden dangers for Black.

Modern Benoni

Correspondence games are a great source for finding original (and often very strong) ideas. Take, for example, Teubert - Zeh, correspondence 2004, which seems to more or less consign a hitherto "unclear" line to the rubbish bin.

In a previous update I considered the line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 c5 4 d5 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 Nc3 g6 7 e4 a6 8 Bf4 b5 9 Qe2 Be7 10 e5!? dxe5 11 Bxe5 Nbd7 12 Bg3 0-0 13 d6 (in E.De Haan-B.Lacroix, Belgium 2004):

But Zeh's 13...Bxd6! 14 Bxd6 Re8 is an important improvement over 13...Re8 14 dxe7 Rxe7. The slight differences here - the placement of Black's rook and White's dark-squared bishop - work in Black's favour to such an extent that after 13...Bxd6 he might even be winning!

Finally this month, here's a nice kingside attack from fellow ChessPub contributor Richard Palliser. After 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 Bd3 Bg7 8 Nge2 0-0 9 0-0, instead of the usual 9...a6 or 9...Na6 Black tried 9...Ng4!?:

This wouldn't really work with the knight on f3 - White would just play h2-h3 or Bf4, but here Black can use the e5-square to gain a tempo on the bishop and then aim for typical counterplay on the queenside. White replied with the rare 10 Ng3 (10 h3 is normal), which led to complications after 10...Qh4! 11 h3 Nxf2 12 Rxf2 Qxg3, see Hawkins - Palliser.

Till next time, John