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Hi everyone! This month we take a look at some lines in the Nimzo-Indian, Modern Benoni 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 January '05 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo Indian Classical Variation: 5 e4!?

We kick off this month's action with another look at a critical line in the Classical Nimzo. Gupta - Bakre, Indian Championship 2004 begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4!? d5 6 e5 Ne4 7 a3 Bxc3+ 8 bxc3 c5 9 Bd3 cxd4 10 cxd4 Qa5+ 11 Kf1:

White has lost castling rights but aside from that his position is reasonably good: he has the bishop pair, good presence in the centre and threatens to annoy Black with f2-f3. Black must play actively otherwise he is in serious danger of being clearly worse. Previously on this website we've looked at the variation 11...Nc6 12 Ne2! Nb4!? 13 axb4! Qxa1 14 f3 (see Shariyazdanov-Rashkovsky, Oberwart 2002), but here Black chooses the logical 11...Bd7!?, preparing to harass the white queen with ...Ba4.

Nimzo-Indian Classical Variation: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3

I'm don't usually get too over-excited by games between computers, but PHARAON64 3.00-DRAGON 4.6.4, Massy 2004 is a real battle, and of some theoretical interest too. The game begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 b6 7 Bg5 Bb7 h6 9 Bh4 d5 (the main line) 10 e3 Nbd7 11 Nh3 (the main alternative is 11 cxd5 - see ChessPub for games) 11...c5 12 cxd5 Nxd5 13 Bxd8 Nxc3 14 Be7 Rfe8 15 Bh4 Nd5 16 Bb5 g5:

Now after 17 Bxd7 Black can regain the piece with the double attack 17...Red8, while 17 Bf2, preserving the advantage of the two bishops, is the normal move (see Gurevich, M - Emms, J/Gent 1991 in ChessPub). Instead the computer comes up with materialistic 17 dxc5!?, to which Black replied 17...Nxc5!?, giving up an exchange in return for lots of activity and threats against the white king.

Modern Benoni Flick-Knife Attack

Much debate remains over the critical line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 f4 Bg7 8 Bb5+ Nbd7 9 e5 dxe5 10 fxe5 Nh5 11 e6 Qh4+:

Recently Anatoly Vaiser compiled an interesting survey in New In Chess Yearbook 69 about the rare move 12 Kd2!? so I thought it was worthwhile taking another look at this line. Revealingly, it was played by none other than Garry Kasparov in a simultaneous display - it would have been in interesting to see what he would have done against the critical line adopted in the game Karayannis - Alexakis, Athens 2001.

Nimzo-Indian/Queen's Indian Hybrid

Chris from Germany writes:

«Having returned to the Nimzo-Indian again recently, I was wondering what I should play against the Nimzo/Queen's Indian hybrid 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 Nc3 Bb4 5 Bg5 Bb7 6 e3.

Playing Black, I found it somehow annoying as I did not like to weaken my kingside with the recommended and often played ...h7-h6 (which I still find okay) followed by ... g7-g5 and castling long. It seemed to me that this line with ...g7-g5, ... Nf6-e4, ...Bxc3+ was almost forced and I guess this kept me from playing it! When looking through Ward's excellent Nimzo-Indian Kasparov Variation, I was a bit disappointed only to find plans including ...d7-d6 and ...e6-e5 in his chapter on delaying or omitting ...g7-g5. So I checked the databases and found 6...c7-c5!?, which is quite interesting in my eyes. Black will even castle on the kingside. It has been played by several really strong GMs, Korchnoi included, so it just can't be bad. What do you think of this move?»

This is a very interesting point. While it's true that most Black players prefer the activity that the pawn lunges on the kingside offers, it would be nice if Black had a solid alternative against Bg5 lines (assuming that the bishop is already committed to b4, so that ...Be7 is not a possibility). Well, as Chris correctly mentions, Black does indeed have a solid option where he doesn't move his pawns forward and does castle kingside. White may have a theoretical edge, but that's not so important when Black feels comfortable playing these positions. Check out the old game Pane - Nocci, Correspondence 1988.

Queen's Indian 4 g3 Ba6 5 Qb3

Next up we have the game Dautov - Berndt, Bundesliga 2004/05: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 Qb3:

This way of defending the c4-pawn has become quite popular amongst the world's elite over the past couple of years, although 5 Qa4 is still considered the main way to protect the pawn with the queen, while 5 b3 still remains White's most popular move overall (see ChessPub - ECO code E15).

After 5...Be7 6 Bg2 Berndt plays 6...c6!?, an attractive idea that so far hasn't been seen very much against 5 Qb3. Black borrows a plan that has also been used against 5 Qa4: the idea is to simply play the solid ...d7-d5, If White captures on d5 Black keeps a symmetrical pawn structure with ...cxd5, leaving the g2-bishop biting against a rock solid central pawn structure. In this game this ploy works to perfection. Black effortlessly achieved a level position and the ball is very much in White's court over Black's ...c7-c6 and ...d7-d5.

Queen's Indian 4 a3

Gelfand - Naiditsch, Pamplona 2004 begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 Nc3 Bb7 5 a3 d5:

This line, Black's main response to 4 a3, has been on the receiving end of a few high-profile batterings recently, and I'm afraid this game is more of the same. It's certainly not a bad line for Black; it just seems that many of White's victories are very publishable!

Queen's Indian 4 e3

Finally this month, a nice win by the German GM who suffered so badly in the previous game. Vaganian - Naiditsch, Pamplona 2004 begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 e3 (starting off as a Colle Opening, but after a quick c2-c4 we reach the Classical Queen's Indian) 3...b6 4 Bd3 Bb7 5 0-0 c5 6 c4 Be7 7 Nc3 cxd4 8 exd4 d5 9 cxd5 Nxd5:

Seemingly we have a typical Isolated Queen's Pawn (IQP) position in front of us but in fact Black must be more careful than usual as White can drum up an immediate and dangerous initiative with the following moves: 10 Ne5! 0-0 11 Qh5. This immediately threatens mate on h7, and when compared to a normal IQP, White's queen becomes very active much more quickly. Naiditsch counters with 11...g6!? but the game is all over in another eleven moves - Black wins with a crushing attack on White's king!

That's it for another month!

Best wishes, John Emms