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Hi everyone!

I've just realised something: seven games this month, and seven white wins! I promise next month I'll try to even things up a bit in the results department.

As well as the Nimzo-Indian and the Queen's Indian, this month there's a couple of Old Benoni games, where Black tries to stodge things up with an early ...e7-e5.

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 '06 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2

We kick off the action with the game Khismatullin - Demianjuk, Moscow 2006: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 b6 7 Bg5 Bb7 8 e3 d6 9 Ne2 Nbd7 10 Qd3 c5 11 Nc3 a6 12 Be2:

and now Black plays 12...Bxg2!?. Is this audacious or simply foolish? I can't make my mind up.

Nimzo-Indian 4 e3 b6

Next up it's Aleksandrov-H.Hunt, Warsaw 2005: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6:

When I was much younger I was fortunate enough to read a fantastic book on the Nimzo by Craig Pritchett (Nimzo Indian 4 e3: Nimzowitsch Hübner Taimanov Variations; it's definitely worth trying to find a second-hand copy somewhere). The book made a great impression on me: I took up the Nimzo and began playing one of the lines he advocated (4...b6). Even though these days I'm more inclined to play 4...0-0, I still have a soft spot for this move.

Nimzo-Indian/Queen's Indian Hybrid

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Nf3 b6 5 Bg5 h6 6 Bh4 Bb7 7 Nd2 c5 8 d5!?:

is a very interesting pawn offer that has become popular recently, and to me it looks like a big problem for Black. Many thanks to fellow ChessPublishing author Chris Ward for taking a break from his Dragon site to annotate a recent French League game of his in this line (Ward - Dubreuil, French league 2006).

Queen's Indian 4 g3 Ba6 5 b3

Revisiting a question posed by José Soza last month: «After 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 b3 Bb4+ 6 Bd2 Be7 7 Nc3:

which is better in your opinion: 7...c6 or 7...0-0?»

In the January update I concentrated on 7...0-0, and this month I'll conclude by looking at 7...c6 which, conveniently enough, was the subject of the recent game Gelfand - Grischuk, Khanty Mansyisk 2005: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 b3 Bb4+ 6 Bd2 Be7 7 Nc3 c6 8 e4 d5 9 Qc2!? dxe4 10 Nxe4:

and now Black played 10...c5!?. It's perhaps too early to say for sure, but this clever move order might eliminate some of the recent strife Black has been on the end of in this line. If this is the case, then 7...c6 is just as good as 7...0-0; in fact, it might even be a cleaner equalizer.

Queen's Indian 4 a3 Bb7 5 Nc3

In Abdulla - Shetty, New Delhi 2006 White plays 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 a3 Bb7 5 Nc3 d5 6 Qa4+:

aSo far on this website we haven't come across Qa4+ is this actual position, but the idea is well known and there are quite a few transpositions to watch out for. It only takes another seven moves before Black is forced to resign, so will 6 Qa4+ catch on?

The Old Benoni

Finally this month a couple of games where Black tries to block it up early on with ...e7-e5; namely 1 d4 c5 2 d5 e5 3 e4 d6:

Very often this position leads to turgid, trench warfare, so it's encouraging to spot a couple of recent entertaining hack attacks.

First up there's P.Cramling-Gregoire, Clichy 2006 with 4 Nc3 a6 5 f4!:

The robotic reaction is 5 a4 (see Davila-Castillo, San Jose 2004 in the archives), but I'm all for the way Pia Cramling plays it here. If 4...a6 has a weakness, it's that it doesn't really help out in the development stakes, so why not try to blow a few holes in the centre?

When I was younger someone told me that playing f4 in these positions is too risky because it gives Black the e5-square. Stupidly I took this as the absolute truth rather than just opinion, but now I think it looks like a whole lot more fun to play 5 f4 than the dull 5 Nf3.

Next there's the similar Graf - Muranyi, Osterburg 2006: 1 d4 c5 2 d5 e5 3 e4 d6 4 Bb5+!? Nd7! 5 f4!:

This is crazy encounter in which Black marches his king up to d4 in the middlegame and comes very close to causing an upset against the Grandmaster formerly known as Nenashev. Hopefully these battles will encourage more players to lash out with f4.

Till next month...