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Hi everyone!

John's on sabbatical this month and so there's a little less Nimzo coverage than usual. However, that's fully compensated for by a number of typically enjoyable Modern Benoni struggles, and by the chance to see how both Ivan Sokolov and Joel Lautier are currently handling the white side of the Queen's Indian. I've also tried to answer a couple of subscribers' questions.

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 July '06 Nimzo and Benoni games

Modern Benoni: Fianchetto Variation

For whatever reason, many are not prepared to fully embrace the wonderful Modern Benoni world of risk and adventure, but even some of those solid souls make good use of the opening after 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 g3. Then 3...c5 4 d5 exd5 5 cxd5 b5:

exploits White's delay in playing Nc3 and has been quite popular of late. I was particularly impressed by our fellow columnist, Victor Mikhalevski, crushing Black with the strong innovation 6 Bg2 d6 7 e4 Qe7? 8 Ne2! in Mikhalevski - Friedel. Black is thus advised to steer clear of hunting down the white e-pawn and should prefer to develop with 7...Nbd7, as we'll see in Ponfilenok - Iljin.

Black can also meet 3 g3 with 3...c5 4 d5 exd5 5 cxd5 d6, transposing to a more normal Fianchetto Variation after 6 Bg2 g6 7 Nc3 Bg7 8 Nf3 0-0 9 0-0. A couple of recent games have then continued 9...a6 10 a4 Nbd7 11 e4!? Re8 12 Re1 Ng4!?:

This is a bold idea, especially when one considers that Black wishes to bring a knight to c4 via e5. If that seems familiar, it's because it is as Black aims to implement the 'Perenyi plan'; an idea more usually seen in the shape of 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 Bd3 Bg7 8 Nge2 0-0 9 0-0 Ng4!?. We'll examine this ...Ng4 approach in the Fianchetto Variation in Tishin - Kononenko, although Black can also meet White's rare e4-plan with the equally enterprising 12...c4!?, the subject of Elsness - Emms.

Modern Benoni: Classical Variation

Baadur Jobava has acquired something of a reputation of being a man with some big novelties up his sleeve. The most notable of those so far have been in the Caro and in the Slav, but he's also popped up on the black side of the Benoni of late, as we've seen before in Gelfand-Jobava. This month Jobava had to tackle the Modern Benoni as White and could he come up with another crushing novelty? Fortunately not, although perhaps he was slightly thrown by Black's 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 Nf3 a6!? in Jobava - Pantsulaia, after which 7 a4 g6 8 Nd2 Nd7 9 a5!? reached a rather unusual form of the Classical:


In response to an email from Chris in Germany, it's time to add a new opening to this site with the rare 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Bg5!?:

This is the so-called Neo-Indian or Seirawan Attack. It has been covered in a New in Chess 'SoS' article and, to ensure subscribers are ready to face it, we examine some possible black responses in Piceu - Van der Wiel.

Queen's Indian: 4 a3 Bb7

After his crushing defeat at the hands of Aronian, which we enjoyed in last month's update, it was always going to be interesting to see how Ivan Sokolov would deal with the Nimzo in the recent Dutch Championship. He evidently hadn't managed to repair his favourite 4 Qc2, preferring instead to take on the Queen's Indian with 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 Nc3 Bb7 5 a3. After 5...d5, Sokolov still got in his favourite move with 6 Qc2 in Sokolov - Van der Wiel, but wasn't then faced with Black's most challenging continuation as Van der Wiel opted for the slightly passive 6...Nbd7:

Queen's Indian: 4 g3 Ba6

John's Starting Out: The Queen's Indian recommends meeting 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 Qb3 Nc6 6 Nbd2 with 6...Na5, but in Lautier - Tukmakov, Black preferred 6...Bb7 7 e4 d5 8 cxd5 exd5 9 e5 Ne4 before losing his way after 10 Bd3:

Nimzo-Indian: Sämisch

'Schtrounfechecs' is interested in a variation endorsed by Vadim Milov, namely 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3 6 bxc3 b6!? (6...c5 7 Bd3 Nc6 is the main line) 7 Bd3 Bb7 8 Ne2!?:

The key question is whether Black can grab on g2, and we'll examine this daring pawn sacrifice in Vaganian - Loginov.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 d5

Vladimir Kramnik made a most welcome return to form at the Turin Olympiad, showing in the process how Black should handle Bareev's favourite 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 Qxd5 6 e3. Certainly after 6...c5 7 Bd2 Bxc3 8 Bxc3 cxd4 9 Bxd4 Nc6 10 Bxf6 gxf6 11 Ne2 Bd7 12 a3 Qe5:

Black didn't appear to have too many problems in Bu - Kramnik.

Until next time when both John and the Nimzo will be making something of a comeback, Richard