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Hi everyone! Welcome to a bumper update this month, which includes 12 annotated games! We'll be taking a look at some lines in the Modern Benoni, Nimzo-Indian, Bogo-Indian and Queen's Indian

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 February '05 Nimzo and Benoni games

A Survey on the 7 Bf4 Modern Benoni

We're very fortunate this month to have Richard Palliser as a guest contributor for the Modern Benoni section. Richard is an International Master and an expert on the Modern Benoni; he advocated 7 Bf4 against the Modern Benoni in his 2003 book Play 1 d4!, and has just recently completed a new work, The Modern Benoni Revealed. Over to you, Richard!

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 c5 4 d5 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 Nc3 g6 7 Bf4!?:

White takes aim at the slightly vulnerable d6-pawn and prepares to quickly increase the pressure on the black position. Having recently done a fair amount of work on the Benoni for my forthcoming introductory guide to the opening, The Modern Benoni Revealed, it's nice to have here the opportunity to look at recent developments in the 7 Bf4 system.

Firstly we look at 7...Bg7. On recent evidence this could even be labelled '?!' as White has scored well against this move in the past few years. I do hope that the leading Benoni experts manage to resurrect this natural developing response to 7 Bf4, but for now 7...a6! offers Black better results and is in good theoretical shape. White continues with 8 Qa4+!, a key check, aiming to weaken the defence of d6, without which Black gains a comfortable game. 8...Bd7 9 Qb3

The subject of Kuzmin - Womacka, Gibraltar 2004 is 9...b5!?, a bold, but probably not fully sound, sacrifice with which Black hopes to gain the initiative. However, this gambit is fairly rare these days.

In Spassov - Pilgaard, Pedrido 2003 and Povah - Lund, British League 2003 we look at the solid 9...Qc7. Black instead settles for covering both d6 and b7, but he must now take care not to drift into passivity.

Onto 7...a6, the game Halkias - Papaioannou, Greek Ch (Aspropyrgos) 2003 begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 c4 c5 4 d5 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 Nc3 g6 7 Bf4 a6 8 e4 b5!:

This is thematic with Black's previous move, mobilising his queenside majority ahead of development for a couple of moves.

White can also play 8 a4, preventing ...b5 but at the cost of losing the Qa4+ option. In Azmaiparashvili - Kovacevic, Nova Gorica 2005 Black continues with 8...Qe7, while in Stocek - Lacasa Diaz, Barcelona 2003 we take a look at 8...Bg7.

Finally there's the game Lputian - Psakhis, ACP internet blitz 2004 which begins 1 d4 e6 2 c4 Nf6 3 Nf3 c5 4 d5 d6 5 Nc3 exd5 6 cxd5 g6 7 Bf4 a6 8 Nd2!?:

This is rare, but also fairly thematic. Once again White hopes to undermine the black queenside with a2-a4, while he can also target d6 by bringing a knight to e4.

Nimzo Indian Classical Variation: 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5

In the game Devereaux - Emms, British league 2005 I played the very sharp line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 c5!? 7 dxc5 h6 8 Bh4 g5!:

This whole line received a real facelift when Nigel Short used it twice in his 1993 World Championship battle with Garry Kasparov. On the first occasion his novelty was a success. Kasparov thought long and hard in the opening, but could only succeed in finding a drawing line, one which Short had reached in his home preparation. However, when Short (perhaps somewhat optimistically) repeated the line later on in the match, Kasparov had done his homework, this time reaching a virtually winning position straight from the opening. However, I remained fascinated by this variation and can remember over ten years ago Chris Ward and I spending hours studying what we thought were the critical lines (in the days before we had Fritz to correct our mistakes and spoil all our fun!). It's interesting that recently this line has come back into vogue and has provided the battlefield for quite a few strong GMs.

Nimzo Indian Rubinstein Variation (4 e3)

Next up, it's Wells - Estremera Panos, Gibraltar 2005: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 0-0 cxd4 8 exd4 dxc4 9 Bxc4 b6 (the very popular 'Karpov Variation'; the position with the isolated d-pawn is rich in possibilities for both White and Black) 10 Bg5 Bb7 11 Ne5!?

This tricky move has become quite trendy recently. White tries to get an attack going before Black is able to reach his ideal defensive set-up. Other moves that we've looked at on the site include 11 Re1 and 11 Rc1 (see ChessPub - ECO code E54).

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0, 5 Nge2 is very much an anti-Nimzo move; by playing Nge2 White protects the knight on c3 and thus avoids doubled pawns. In general this move isn't regarded as that dangerous against 4...0-0, as it is against both 4...c5 and 4...b6. Nevertheless, there are still grandmasters who are willing to play this line for White. As well as Graf (the chess player formerly known as Nenashev), it's been a favourite of the ex-Soviet GM Mikhail Gurevich while Ruslan Ponomariov has also tried it.

In Graf - Hoffmann, Bundesliga 2004/05 Black plays 5...d5 6 a3 Bd6!?:

In the past this was thought to be a bit provocative as it does, after all, invite White to play c4-c5 with tempo. However, recent games have shown that Black doesn't have to worry about this, and in other lines (cxd5, ...exd5) the bishop may be more aggressively placed on d6). Graf plays 7 Ng3 and wins very quickly, but this hasn't got much to do with the position he gets from the opening.

Bogo-Indian 4 Bd2 a5

I must admit that the Bogo is a bit of a rare bird on this website, one of the reasons being that I haven't that much enthusiasm for Black's position in the main lines - Black is extremely solid but a bit too passive for my liking.

The game Dautov - Wahls, Bundesliga 2004/05 is a case for my argument. It begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 Bb4+ 4 Bd2 Qe7 5 g3 Nc6 6 Nc3:

Seemingly Black doesn't make any really horrible mistakes in this game, but is still crushed in thirty moves. A real master class of positional chess by Dautov.

Queen's Indian 4 Bg5

Finally this month, something a little different. The game Ignatenko - Evchin, Kiev 2005 begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 Bg5:

This very often transposes to 4 Nc3/Bg5 lines but what happens if White tries something a bit different? Check out a sneaky trap that wins Black a piece after only eight moves!

That's it for another month!

Best wishes, John