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Hi everyone!
Three contributors this month! I've checked out one or two new or forgotten ideas in the Nimzo Indian and Queen's Indian, while Richard Palliser and John Cox (making his debut here, but well known for his Alekhine Defence annotations in the 1 e4... section) share some thoughts on the Modern Benoni.

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 '07 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2

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 e3 is a position that has been reach quite a few times over the board:

Generally 9 e3 is the move White chooses if he wishes to avoid all the complications and instead aim for a minuscule edge (9 cxd5 exd5 10 Nf3 and 9 Nf3 Qa5+ 10 Nd2 are known to be much sharper). However, in the game Khenkin - Landenbergue, Geneva 2007, White demonstrates a way to play this line in a surprisingly ambitious way.

Borvander - Paehtz, Catalan Bay 2007, begins 1 d4 e6 2 c4 b6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 Bb7 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 Nf6 7 Bg5:

and now 7...0-0 reaches the main line 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3, but Paehtz played more ambitiously with 7...h6!? 8 Bh4 g5! 9 Bg3 Ne4! reaching a position I believe is fully playable. Normally Black has to think long and hard about playing....g7-g5, but unlike the mainline 4 Qc2 0-0 Black has yet to commit the king here, so this move gains in strength.

Move order is important here. The Nimzo-Indian order to reach the position after Black's 6th move is 1...Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 b6!? 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 Bb7, but in this variation White does have the opportunity to alter the course of the game, probably for the better, by playing 5 e4!. Another move order to remember is 1...e6 2 c4 Bb4+ 3 Nc3 b6 4 Qc2 Bb7.

Nimzo-Indian/Queen's Indian Hybrid

Ivan Sokolov is a great expert in the early Qb3 line and in I.Sokolov-A.Greet, Catalan Bay 2007, he produces another new wrinkle: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 Nc3 Bb4 5 Qb3 c5 6 a3 Ba5 7 dxc5!? bxc5 8 Bg5:

This is Sokolov's latest attempt to squeeze some advantage from the position. It looks harmless enough, but there are some hidden dangers for Black.

Of course the immediate 7 Bg5 is playable, but Black now has the possibility of 7...h6 8 Bh4 g5!? 9 Bg3 g4! 10 Nd2 cxd4 11 Nb5 Ne4 with massive complications - see Gretarsson-Adams, Reykjavik 2003, in the archives. By trading on c5 first, Sokolov avoids this option for Black.

Queen's Indian 4 a3 Ba6

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 a3 Ba6, nearly everyone plays 5 Qc2 here (we've seen it quite a few times on the website). However, there's also an argument for the move 5 Qb3!?:

One obvious point is that 5...Bb7 6 Nc3 c5 (as played against 5 Qc2) is ineffective here on account of the simple 7 d5! - playable as the queen protects the d5-square. In a recent game I instead chose 5...Be7, but I was soon facing quite a few difficulties after White's next move. See what this is in Mackinnen - Emms, London 2007.

Classical Modern Benoni

by Richard Palliser and John Cox

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 Nf3 Bg7 8 Be2 0-0 9 0-0 Re8 10 0-0 Nbd7 11 a4, 11...g5!? (instead of 11...Ne5) has been out of favour since the mid-eighties:

However, it recently made a comeback in Hernandez - Lawson, and a rather successful one at that. The notes to that game reveal too that Black ignores the Classical in his general preparation at his peril!


1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 h3 Bg7 8 Bd3 0-0 9 Nf3 b5 10 Nxb5 Re8 11 Nd2!? continues to receive some grandmaster attention of late. Black avoided the critical 11...Nxe4 in Wang Yue-Reefat, preferring 11...Nxd5 and after 12 Nc4 employed the rare but promising 12...Ba6!?:

Modern Benoni: The Anti-MML

One line which has been causing fans of the Anti-MML (i.e. 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 Nf3 a6) problems over the past decade has been the rise in popularity of 8 h3 b5 9 Bd3 Bg7 10 0-0 0-0:

Popular author and ChessPublishing contributor John Cox has recently gained a fair amount of experience against this tricky line, as he kindly shares with us in his notes to Ikonnikov - Cox, Port Erin 2006, and Kazhgaleyev - Palliser, Port Erin 2006.

Until next time, John