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It's strictly Nimzo-Indian games this month, with action from the Aeroflot Open, Linares and the 4NCL (British League).

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 February '10 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2

We begin with the ultra-trendy 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5, and Dreev - Shomoev, Aeroflot Open 2010. Dreev chose one of the quieter options, 7 Nf3 dxc4 8 Qxc4 b6 9 Bg5 Ba6 10 Qa4 c5 and here he played 11 Rd1!?:

This was the move I wondering about in my notes to Carlsen-Kramnik, Dortmund 2009, where Black gained an easy draw soon after 11 dxc5 bxc5 12 Rd1 Qb6!. By defending the d4-pawn with his rook, White is able to retreat his queen if Black plays ...Qd7. Analysis seems to suggest that, for the moment at least, 11 Rd1 gives Black more problems to solve than 11 dxc5.

Next up, it's Dearing - Gordon, 4NCL 2010, and the "main 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 9 Bg3 Ne4 10 e3 Qa5 11 Nge2 Bf5 12 Be5 0-0 13 Nd4 Nxc3 14 Nxf5 Ne4+ 15 Kd1 Nc6 16 Bd4:

I know things could change at any time, but I get the impression that White is going nowhere fast in this variation. Gordon plays 16...Rfe8! which seems to be another strong novelty, and this might even mean that Black is spoiled for choice here.

Dreev - Melkumyan, Aeroflot Open 2010, adds some new ideas to the rare line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 c5 7 Nf3 h6 8 Bh4 g5:

Recently we saw Ponomariov win against Malakhov with this move, and it's possible a whole new branch of theory will arise here.

Nimzo-Indian 4 e3: Keres Variation

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 Bd3 Bb7 6 Nf3 0-0 7 0-0 c5:

The Keres Variation remains a decent option for Black, and there's also a practical advantage in that it can arise via a number of different move-orders, including 4...b6, 4...c5 and 4...0-0.

In Korobov - Svetushkin, Aeroflot Open 2010, White chose 8 Bd2 and we end up with a position very similar to those reached in the Karpov Variation. Black can either go for an IQP position, or one with hanging pawns by playing ...Bxc3. Watch out for an incredible defensive resource missed in this game!

White's other main option is 8 Na4, leaving the bishop "hanging" on b4. After 8...cxd4 9 a3, Black normally retreats to e7, but the little-played 8...Bd6! looks like an attractive alternative for Black - see Parker - Wells, 4NCL 2009.

Nimzo-Indian 4 e3: Parma Variation

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 0-0 dxc4 8 Bxc4 Nbd7 9 Qe2 a6:

Grischuk - Gelfand, Linares 2010, is a refreshing game, not least because it reminds us that even 2700+ grandmasters can occasionally get crushed by a creative positional idea. Grischuk's inspired and seemingly paradoxical decision on move 19 elevates this game above the typical IQP fare.

Nimzo-Indian 4 e3: Karpov Variation

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 c4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6 6 Nf3 Bb4 7 Bd3 dxc4 8 Bxc4 0-0 9 0-0 b6 10 Bg5 Bb7 11 Re1:

In the Karpov Variation, Black tends to combine ...b6 and ...Bb7 with ...Nbd7. That set-up does, after all, seek to exploit the delayed development of the queen's knight. On the occasions Black does play ...Nc6, it's usually with ...Be7 in mind. But not always! In Emms - Speelman, 4NCL 2010, Black tries something a bit different.

Till next time, John