ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
It's time this month to catch up on just some of the latest theoretical developments in the Nimzo-Indian, including some more action in the ultra-trendy line 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5, whose popularity shows no sign whatsoever of flagging.

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 '10 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5:

6...d5 is fast becoming the main line in the Nimzo-Indian. Not only has it found favour with the likes of Anand, Kramnik, Grischuk, etc., but the trickle-down effect has ensured that it has attracted many new followers. Of course the key to its continued popularity really lies in its success, and so far it's been an incredibly tough nut for White to crack. Here we see some more attempts by White, some of which have been partially successful, but generally 6...d5 has been holding up well.

We begin with Mkrtchian - Chiburdanidze, Jermuk 2010, and the sequence 7 Bg5 dxc4 8 Qxc4 b6 9 Rd1!?

This rook move, the main idea of which is to prevent Black from playing an early ...c5, is White's latest attempt to squeeze an edge from the position.

White can only play an early Rd1 to delay ...c5 if he chooses 7 Bg5 over 7 Nf3, but 7 Bg5 does allow Black to play the sharp Romanishin-style gambit with 7...c5!? 8 dxc5 d4:

Previously we've looked at 9 Qc2 (for example in Morozevich-Anand, Nice 2009) but later Morozevich was successful, albeit in two blitz games, with 9 Qg3. I wrote before than this "transposes to the Romanishin Gambit, although a seemingly less critical line with White's bishop committed to g5". I might have to revise this assessment in view of these games by Morozevich. In fact the pin on the f6-knight can be quite annoying for Black. See Morozevich - Grischuk, Moscow (blitz) 2009.

Against 7 Nf3, Black's most reliable approach continues to be 7...dxc4 8 Qxc4 b6, and if 9 Bg5 then 9...Ba6 10 Qa4 c5!:

Here 11 Rd1 is perhaps White's only real chance of fighting for an advantage. In Gajewski - Turov, Eforie Nord 2010, White tried the creative 11...cxd4 12 Ne5!?, delaying the recapture on d4 in an attempt to clog up Black's development. I feel Black should be fine, though, or at least very close to equality.

Against 9 Bf4 (instead of 9 Bg5) Black continues to happily offer the c-pawn with 9...Ba6!. Previous games have shown that 10 Qxc7 Qd5! seems to give Black quite a bit of play for the pawn, and recently White players have been reluctant to debate this line. Alternatively, 10 Qc2 is considered toothless but 10 Qa4!?, as played in Zhu Chen-Koneru, FIDE GP, Ulaanbaatar 2010, does at least make Black work a bit harder in order to achieve the desirable ...c5 break. Even so, Koneru's plan to achieve ...c5, starting with 10...Qd7!, does seem quite convincing.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 d5

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 c5 7 Nf3 h6 8 Bxf6 Qxf6:

White normally captures on f6 if the limit of his ambitions is a small but safe edge. (8 Bh4 g5 9 Bg3 Ne4 - or 9...Nc6 10 dxc5 - leads to the sharper lines we've seen many times before.)

It feels like Black should have a solid, easy way to equalize against 8 Bxf6, but nothing is ever as easy as it looks! However, Black's play in Lorscheid - Zinchenko, Rethymnon 2010, was quite convincing, and also provides a good demonstration of how to generate an unbalanced position with winning chances when White refuses to enter any complications.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 f3 0-0

The line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 f3 0-0 5 e4 has been under a cloud for some time, mainly because of the continuation 5...d5! 6 e5 Nfd7 7 cxd5 exd5 8 f4 c5 9 a3 Ba5:

when the natural 10 Nf3?! allows the powerful piece sac 10...cxd4! 11 Nxd4 Nxe5! 12 fxe5 Qh4+ 13 Ke2 Bb6!.

However, in the recent game Hawkins - Conquest, British Championship 2010, White chose the much stronger 10 Be3! ruling out any nasty tricks. As far as I can see, this bishop move fully resuscitates the line.

Nimzo-Indian/Queen's Indian Hybrid

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Nf3 b6 5 Bg5 Bb7 6 e3 h6 7 Bh4 g5 8 Bg3 Ne4 9 Qc2 d6 10 Bd3 Bxc3+ 11 bxc3 Nxg3 12 fxg3!?:

We finish this month with a good old-fashioned king hunt, and a great advert for "breaking the rules" with 12 fxg3!?. White certainly uses the open f-file to great effect in Blomqvist - Jirasek, Pardubice 2010, and wins convincingly. From a theoretical perspective, though, I feel Black is still doing okay in this line.

Till next time, John