ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Merry Christmas everybody and the best of luck with your chess playing for 2005, especially with the Nimzo-Indian, Queen's Indian, Bogo Indian and Benonis!

This month we take a look at some games that have taken place in recent tournaments throughout the world.

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 December '04 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo Indian Classical Variation: 5 e4!?

We kick off this month's action with a look at the game Flear - Karpov, Aix-En-Provence 2004, in which White adopts the both trendy and aggressive 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4!?

This move is becoming more and more popular and has now been played by some very strong GMs. In many ways it's White's most logical move - he immediately occupies the centre. The lines are sharp and Black hasn't found an obvious way to equality. 5...d6 is Black's most solid option - he prepares to lumber White with doubled pawns with ...Bxc3+ and follow up by trying to block things up with ...e6-e5. Well, that's the normal plan but here Karpov introduces a new wrinkle for Black that works to perfection. Does this take the sting out of 5 e4? Only time will tell!

Nimzo-Indian Classical Variation: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3

Next up it's the game Islam - Aleksandrov, Calcutta 2004, which begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 b6 7 Bg5 Bb7 8 f3:

All very normal so far, with White planning e2-e4. Here, instead of the usual 8...h6 9 Bh4 d5, Black tried 8...c5!?. This move, hitting the d4-pawn, is not very fashionable but to me it seems like a reasonable option for those wishing to avoid the complexities of the main line.

Nimzo-Indian 4 e3 b6

Now to a line that I confess I assessed incorrectly in a previous update. Aronian - Medvegy, Bundesliga 2004 begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 Nge2 Ba6 6 a3 Be7 7 Nf4 d5 8 cxd5 Bxf1 and now the former World Junior Champion played the amazing 9 dxe6!?:

This has only been played a few times and is not mentioned by the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings (ECO). In an earlier game I annotated for I said that I wasn't convinced by the correctness of the sacrifice, but this game provides compelling evidence in favour of White's cause.

Nimzo-Indian Main Line Rubinstein

For our final Nimzo-Indian game this year, it's off again to the world of the isolated queen's pawn in the game Lomineishvili - Melia, Tbilisi 2004: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Nf3 d5 6 Bd3 c5 7 0-0 Nc6 9 Bxc4 cxd4 10 exd4:

Many believe this version of the IQP is more favourable for White than the one arising after 7...dxc4 8 Bxc4 cxd4 9 exd4, mainly because the knight is committed to the c6-square whereas in the 'Karpov variation' Black has more flexibility - the knight often develops on d7. However, despite ending up as a white win, this encounter does illustrate Black's resources in this unpopular line. And the final checkmate is certainly worth checking out!

Queen's Indian 4 e3

In Jankovic - Kovacevic, Split 2004 Black adopts Nimzowitsch's principle of controlling the centre using pieces rather than pawns: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 e3 Bb4+ 5 Nbd2 6 Bd3 Ne4!?:

Black plays as in the 4 e3 b6 variation of the Nimzo-Indian (1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 Bd3 Bb7 6 Nf3 Ne4). The difference that the white knight is on d2 rather than c3 should in theory favour White because he won't be lumbered with doubled pawns and will be able to pressure the e4-square more quickly. However, as this game demonstrates, things are not quite so simple.

Queen's Indian 4 a3

Next up it's the Petrosian Variation, Pedersen - Pelletier, Bundesliga 2004 going 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 a3 Bb7 5 Nc3 d5 6 cxd5 Nxd5 7 Qc2 Nxc3 8 bxc3 Be7 9 e4 0-0 10 Bd3 c5 11 0-0:

Usually these days Black has been playing 11...Qc8 with the intention of ...cxd4 and also ...Ba6 (see Sokolov-Polgar, Hoogeveen 2003 in ChessPub - ECO code E12). This is a typical idea for Black to exchange off the potentially dangerous bishop on d3. In this game Black opts for the more traditional 11...Qc7 followed by ...Nc6 but actually after playing through it you'll realise why the ...Ba6 idea is so popular - White's position was very easy to play and the kingside attack virtually automatic.

Modern Benoni 7 Nge2

We round off this month with another look at the line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 Nge2. We also looked at this interesting move last month, White attempting to obtain a good version of the line reached from the Sämisch King's Indian: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 f3 0-0 6 Nge2 c5 7 d5 e6 8 Ng3 exd5 9 cxd5. Here in the Modern Benoni White can aim to do without f2-f3 and play for an eventual f2-f4, in effect gaining a tempo. The game Hahn - Lopez, US Championship, San Diego 2004 continued 7...Bg7 8 Ng3 0-0 9 Be2 Re8 10 0-0 a6 11 a4 Nbd7 and now 12 Ra3!!:

Okay, objectively this move doesn't deserve two exclamation marks, but it scores very well here for both originality and also the way the 2003 US Women's Champion justifies it in her later play. Watch out for a rook swinger to the kingside!

That's all for now. See you next year!

John Emms