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This month we take a look at yet another d4-d5 gambit in the Queen's Indian, a tricky move order for Black in the Nimzo-Indian, and some issues in the g3 variation of the Czech Benoni.

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 January '10 Nimzo and Benoni games

Queen's Indian

We begin with the variation 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 Nc3 0-0 7 Qc2 c5 8 d5!:

This contains many similarities to the very topical gambit 4...Ba6 5 Qc2 Bb7 6 Bg2 c5 7 d5. After 8...exd5, the old move is 9 Ng5 (or 9 Nh4) simply playing to regain the pawn. More recently, however, some GMs have been making it a real gambit with 9 cxd5!?. It looks like this move was resurrected because of the game Gajewski - Hernandez Carmenates, Calvia 2006, in which White came up with a huge improvement over existing theory after the natural 9...Nxd5?!

It appears that if Black wants to capture the pawn (he isn't forced to do so, but White has good chances of an edge if he doesn't), then the counter-intuitive 9...Bxd5! is the right way, and this capture is covered in Giri - Werle, Groningen 2009.

Khismatullin - Riazantsev, Moscow 2009, is a very nice game by White, demonstrating that the line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Nf3 b6 5 Bg5 h6 6 Bh4 g5 7 Bg3 Ne4 8 Qc2 Bb7 9 e3 Bxc3+ 10 bxc3 d6 11 Bd3 Nxg3 12 hxg3 Nd7 isn't totally innocuous:

Here 13 Be4! (or 13 a4 a5 and only now 14 Be4) exchanging bishops and then trying to exploit the weakened light squares represents White's best chance of fighting for an advantage. Khismatullin's 18 Qb1!? is a very interesting idea.


1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 c5 5 dxc5 Bxc5 6 Nf3 Qb6 7 e3 Qc7 8 b3 b6 9 Bb2 Bb7:

This hedgehog set-up has been played by a number of strong players (most notably Tiviakov) and it remains an important option. Black often plays an early ...a6 to rule out Nb5. Here, in Akesson - Ponkratov, 39th Rilton Cup, he avoids it but White doesn't take up the challenge (he plays 10 Bd3 instead of Carlsen's 10 Nb5), and Black seems to reach a pretty reasonable position without much effort.

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Nf3 d5 6 a3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 c5 leads to an important position which can be reached via a number of move orders where White plays a3, usually in answer to ...d5:

It's not really a surprise that the natural developing move 8 Bd3 has been by far White's most popular choice here. But is it really possible that this move is an inaccuracy? Black normally plays the automatic 8...dxc4 leading to typical positions, but in Dimitrov - Brkic, Zadar 2009, Black chooses the very tricky 8...Qc7!?, a move which seems to pose a few awkward problems for White.

Czech Benoni

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e5 4 Nc3 d6 5 e4 Be7 6 g3 Nbd7 7 Bg2 Nf8:

Florian Biermann kindly sent in a game of his in the Czech Benoni, asking some pertinent questions about the viability of the ...Nbd7-f8-g6 plan for Black. In many lines of the Czech Benoni this knight manoeuvre offers Black a useful alternative to his main plan of quick kingside castling.

My initial feeling was that against 6 g3 it would be less effective, simply because the pawn on g3 is well placed to restrict the g6-knight in typical fashion. On the other hand, Black does have some resources on the kingside - mainly the ...h5-h4 idea - and it's worth noting that GM Igor Miladinovic has been happy to play like this on more than one occasion. See the notes to Vinogradov - Biermann, Jerusalem Championship 2009, where White plays in typical fashion with 8 Nge2.

My main worry for Black at the moment is actually if White plays 8 Nf3!? instead. This move has scored well, and it presents Black with some different problems. What's more, in the recent game Beliavsky - Miladinovic, Slovakian League 2009, White comes up with a really creative and original way to meet Black's plans, and I haven't yet been able to find a totally convincing answer for Black.

Until next time, John