July '00 Update
GM John Emms rounds up the latest in these Nimzo and Benoni Systems, with the help of guest GM Chris Ward in the Nimzo-Indian.
This month's games from The Week in Chess (numbers 294-297) have produced a total of 22 Modern Benoni games, with Black scoring 5 wins, 8 draws and 9 losses (41%).
We start with a personal experience in the game Gulko-Emms, Esbjerg 2000. A chess journalist (who shall remain unnamed) said that I was punished in this game for playing the Benoni, "which remains a suspect opening at the highest levels". I think he was suffering from the common illness of "annotation by result", whereby the commentator sees who wins the game and then presumes that he was winning throughout. However, in no way was the position from opening the reason for my defeat and I still think the Benoni is playable at every level! In fact the game is very interesting and contains many common Benoni themes.
In the game Seres-Gheorghiu, Fribourg 2000 we see another example of the Fianchetto Variation. It seems that whichever White plays this particular line, Black can always drum up counterplay and this example is no different.
We end our Benoni coverage with the game Estremera Panos-Serra Olives, Andorra 2000. Here White produces another important novelty in the main line of the Modern Classical Variation, 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 h3 Bg7 8 Nf3 0-0 9 Bd3 b5.
This month proved not to be such a solid one for Queen's Indian players. In fact a score of only 38% (15 wins, 52 draws and 42 losses) is one of the poorest returns I can remember for such a reliable defence.
We start our coverage with the game Tregubov-Shaposhnikov, Samara 2000, in which White finds a novelty on move 13 in the sharp line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 Nbd2 c5 6 e4. Its actual value is difficult to judge as Black blunders badly and loses very quickly.
In Romanishin-Zubarev, Ordzhonikidze 2000 we look at the more peaceful variation 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 Nc3 0-0 7 0-0 Ne4. This is still considered to be the "main line" of the 4 g3 Queen's Indian, although these days many Grandmasters prefer the more active 4...Ba6. In this game White come out with something slightly off-beat, although the quiet nature of the position remains.
Finally we have the game Fominyh-Poluljahov, Samara 2000. Just as I thought I'd well and truly buried the line 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 c4 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 Qb3, it bites back with a vengeance. Despite some early reverses, this is currently the trendy way for White to play the 4 g3 Ba6 Queen's Indian.
Welcome to July and in this month's update. I have concluded for the time being my coverage on the Classical b5 pawn sac with the game Van Wely-Nikolic.
A reader also wrote in requesting I take a look at the Hubner variation. This perhaps isn't as popular as it used to be with White apparently more eager these days to develop his knight on e2. However there are the occasional outings with it and I've opted to include here the most recent one I could find involving strong players. Babula-Van der Sterren certainly lives up to its billing. In the event of any interesting developments or questions, more will follow.
Well keep the mail coming in. It is appreciated. Until next time.
Chris Ward and John Emms
Remember, if you have any questions or remarks on the Benoni, Nimzo Indian, Queen's Indian or Bogo-Indian, we'd be glad to here from you. Please e-mail Chris or John at