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Hi Everyone,
With the Dresden Olympiad taking place in November, this guaranteed a huge number of games to look over for selection, and I've decided to include a few Nimzo games from that event which caught my eye. Also this month, a look at a sideline in the Fianchetto Queen's Indian that has been causing Black some headaches, and some more problems for Black in the Modern Benoni, Taimanov Attack.

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 December '08 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2

We begin with 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 Ne4 7 Qc2 c5 8 dxc5 Nc6 9 cxd5 exd5 10 e3:

This risky move gained some interest when Kasimdzhanov played it a few times, and more recently Carlsen has scored a couple of wins with it. The main advantage is has over 10 Nf3 is that the natural reply 10...Bf5 can now be answered by 11 Bd3, but in more than one line White must be willing to sacrifice the exchange, as he does in Drozdovskij - Brodsky, Poltava 2008.

Iweta Rajlich's games are always of interest, as she has developed many interesting new opening ideas. But in Rajlich - Kosintseva, Dresden 2008, she is on the receiving end of an important novelty in the line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 Nf3 c5 6 dxc5 Na6 7 g3:

This move has been used in the past by the likes of Gurevich and Bareev, while more recently Rajlich has enjoyed some success with it. But Kosintseva's way of meeting 7 g3 looks quite effective to me.

In Kropff - Bagheri, Dresden 2008, White chooses the quiet line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 b6 7 Nf3 Bb7 8 e3 d6:

We've already looked at this line a few times, with White playing 9 Be2. For example, 9...Nbd7 10 0-0 Ne4 11 Qc2 f5 12 b4 (see Georgiev-Grischuk, Crete 2007), or 10...a5 11 b3 Ne4 12 Qc2 f5 13 Bb2 (see Zhao Xue-Karjakin, Cap d'Agde 2006). Kropff instead chooses 9 b4!?, which doesn't necessarily transpose to normal lines. By playing b2-b4 so early, White can meet ...a5 with Bb2 (instead of meeting ...a5 with b2-b3). Another possibility it opens up is replying to ...Ne4 by playing Qb3 instead of the usual Qc2. This can actually be an important nuance in quite a few lines, and I've tried to point out in the notes where this is the case.

Nimzo-Indian 4 e3

The so-called Dutch Variation 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 Bd3 Bb7 6 Nf3 Ne4 7 0-0 has always been a favourite of mine:

The question Black must always ask is when should he capture on c3? 7...f5 is the slightly more popular move, but in Georgiev - Istratescu, Dresden 2008, Black instead opts for 7...Bxc3 8 bxc3 f5, and in the notes I try to work out the pluses and minuses of both move orders.

Queen's Indian 4 g3 Ba6

I'm thankful to Igor Kragelj for alerting me to a major problem for Black in a sideline against 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 Qb3:

If Black wants to avoid the theoretical paths associated with main move, 5...Nc6, there's an enticing option of playing for ...c6 and ...d5, either with an immediate 5...c6 or with the more flexible 5...Be7 and a later ...c6 and ...d5. Basically the idea is to force an exchange on d5 and to recapture with the c-pawn. If White is not careful Black could gain easy equality, with the bishop on a6 coming to life and outshining its counterpart on g2.

However, as Kragelj rightly points out, White can set Black more problems by delaying Bg2 in favour of a very quick Nc3 (preparing e2-e4) and/or Bf4 (threatening in some lines to capture on b8). Morozevich - Carlsen, Monaco 2007, provides coverage of 5...c6 6 Bf4, while in Morozevich - Svidler, Monaco 2007, we look at 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 Qb3 Be7 6 Nc3!.

Modern Benoni: Taimanov Attack

The game Taylor - Shabalov, Ohio 2008, is another good demonstration of how White can build up a promising position in the line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 c5 4 d5 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 f4 Bg7 8 Bb5+ Nfd7 9 Be2:

It's true that White's position needs careful handling, but from a theoretical viewpoint this line continues to be troublesome for the Benoni player. Many thanks to Timothy Taylor for providing some thoughts on this game.

Anand-Kramnik, Game 6

Finally this month, I'm indebted to Dennis Monokroussos for pointing out the possibility of 16...Rfd8 (instead of 16...Rac8) in Game 6 of the Anand-Kramnik match, an idea I overlooked in my coverage of the game in last month's update. One of the key points of this move is that after 17 e3 Rac8 18 Bg2 Ne7, 19 Bb4 no longer pins the knight and is thus much less effective and White probably has to try something else. This certainly seems to give Black better chances of equality than Kramnik's 16...Rac8 17 Bg2 Ne7, when 18 Bb4 was indeed very strong.

Till next time, John