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Hi everyone!

This month guest contributor Richard Palliser takes an in-depth look at recent developments in the popular Modern Main Line of the Modern Benoni. Also included are some Nimzo and Queen's Indian games.

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 '05 Nimzo and Benoni games

Modern Benoni

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 Nf3 Bg7 8 h3:

Given that Black often avoids the Flick-Knife Attack by using the 2...e6 3 Nf3 c5 move-order, it's probably safe to say that the Modern Classical is now both the most popular and most successful weapon against the Modern Benoni. Restraint is the name of the game: White overprotects the e4-pawn, keeps the c8-bishop out of the game with an early h2-h3 and normally prevents Black from playing the ...b7-b5 lunge.

In this survey Richard Palliser looks at the following lines:

8...0-0 9 Bd3 10 a4 Re8 11 0-0 c4 - see Zimmerman - Ghaem Maghami, Isle of Man 2005.

8...0-0 9 Bd3 a6 10 a4 Nbd7 11 0-0 Qe7 - see Kaidanov-D.Gurevich, US Championship, San Diego 2004.

8...0-0 9 Bd3 Bd7 - see Navara - Volokitin, Greek Team Championship 2005.

8...0-0 9 Bd3 b5!

- see Beliavsky - Jobava, FIDE World Cup, Khanty Mansyisk 2005.

8...a6 9 Bd3 b5 - see Miton-Ivanchuk, Samba Cup, Skanderborg 2005.

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2 d5

Bareev - Carlsen, FIDE World Cup, Khanty Mansyisk 2005 is a heavyweight theoretical clash in a variation which has interested me for many years - recently this line has become quite fashionable: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 c5 7 dxc5 h6 8 Bh4 g5 9 Bg3 Ne4 10 e3 Qa5! 11 Nge2 Bf5 12 Be5 0-0 13 Nd4 Nxc3 Nxf5 Ne4+ 15 Kd1 Nc6!:

Now in Devereaux-Emms, British League 2005 my opponent chose 16 Bd4 and the game continued 16...Nxd4 17 exd4 Be1 18 Nxh6+? (18 Kc1! Nxf2 19 Rg1 looks critical and totally unclear) 18...Kh8 19 Kc1 Rac8 20 Kb1 Bxf2 21 Bd3 Bxd4 22 Bxe4 dxe4 23 h4 Rxc5 24 Qxe4 Qd2 25 Nxf7+ Kg7 0-1 (see the archives for the full annotations to this game). Instead Bareev chose to move his bishop to d6.

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2 Nc6

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 Nc6:

is the starting position of the Zürich Variation. This line is well down the popularity stakes when compared to 4...0-0, 4...d5 and 4...c5, but there is certainly an argument for attacking the d4-pawn with the knight now that White's queen is committed to c2. Black players are attracted by the relative lack of theory in 4...Nc6, especially when compared to 4...0-0 and 4...d5. Black tends to play in the same way against virtually all of White's possibilities: ...d7-d6, ...e6-e5 etc. - see Flear - Palliser, British League 2005.

Nimzo-Indian/Queen's Indian Hybrid 5 Bg5 Bb7 6 Nd2

6 Nd2 continues to be topical, the most recent super-GM encounter (Jobava - Beliavsky, Khanty Mansyisk 2005) beginning 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 c4 b6 4 Bg5 Bb7 5 Nc3 Bb4 6 Nd2 h6 7 Bh4 0-0 8 e4 g5 9 Bg3 Bxe4 10 h4 Bg6 11 hxg5 hxg5 12 Qf3 Nc6 13 Bxc7 Qe7:

Thus far we have been following the fairly recent game Wells-Eljanov, Amsterdam 2005. In that game Peter Wells opted for 14 Bd3, but Black was okay and actually went on to win (although White is certainly not worse after 14 Bd3).

Jobava is well known for the depth of his opening preparation (not so long ago he beat Bareev in 34 moves before proving that the entire game had been prepared beforehand!) and he doesn't disappoint here.

Queen's Indian 4 a3 c5

Tregubov - Yemelin, Kazan 2005, begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 a3 c5 5 d5 Ba6 6 Qc2 exd5 7 cxd5 g6 8 Bf4 d6 9 Nc3 Bg7 10 Qa4+! b5!?:

Recently Black players have been turning to this pawn sacrifice (the main line runs 10...Qd7 11 Bxd6 Qxa4 12 Nxa4 Nxd5 13 e4 Bxf1 14 Rxf1 with White perhaps having a small advantage in this endgame).

Have a successful New Year! See you next month!