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Hi everyone,
This month includes an important idea from Morozevich making a rare appearance on the White side of a Benoni, and a novelty from Navara in the Nimzo (but not a great one, in my opinion). Also John-Paul Wallace takes an in-depth look at an aggressive way for Black to play the 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 July '07 Nimzo and Benoni games

Modern Benoni: Modern Main Line

One line that has become more popular in the last few years is 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 c4 c5 4 d5 d6 5 Nc3 exd5 6 cxd5 g6 7 e4 a6 8 h3 b5 9 Bd3 Bg7 10 0-0 0-0 11 a3:

Now Black usually plays a combination of ...Re8, ...Nbd7, ...Qb6 and ...Bb7, and there are one or two games on this website with that approach (for example, Ikonnikov-Cox). The other way to play is to double rooks on the e-file with ...Re8 and ...Ra7-e7 before playing all the other usual moves, so that Black exerts more pressure on e4 than usual. But in the recent game Morozevich - Miroshnichenko, Spanish league 2007, Morozevich comes up with an idea that interferes with this plan and questions the viability of Black's ...Ra7-e7.

Next up it's the game R.Kaufman-Asabri, Budapest 2007, which features the long forcing line 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 10 Bxb5 (10 Nxb5 is the more ambitious alternative) 10...Nxe4 11 Nxe4 Qa5+ 12 Nfd2 Qxb5 13 Nxd6 Qa6 14 N2c4 Nd7 15 0-0 Nb6 16 Nxb6 Qxb6:

Now 17 Nxc8 Raxc8 is the main line, and there are many games with this in the archives. In this game, though, White opted for the retreat 17 Nc4!?. If Black reacts precisely I don't think this should lead to anything for White, but he must be careful on his very next move.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 d5

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 Ne4 7 Qc2 c5 8 dxc5 Nc6 9 e3:

Even though White only has chances of a small advantage with 9 e3 (9 cxd5 exd5 10 Nf3 is the sharper, more ambitious line), the main positive feature is that if White wishes he can force positions in which it's very difficult for Black to create any winning chances at all.

Everyone plays 9...Qa5+ here, regaining the pawn on c5 (see, for example, Golod-Moranda, Cappelle la Grande 2007, in the archives). In Rowson - Navara, 4NCL 2007, the Czech GM came up with the novelty 9...0-0. My first impression is that I don't think it will be causing White players too many headaches, but we'll see if there are any further developments in future games.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d6:

This move, which has been used by players such as Korchnoi and Nisipeanu, is a sound alternative to 6...b6, and there are also some transpositional possibilities back into 6...b6 lines to be aware of. In Kuzubov - Zhigalko, Kirishi 2007, White chose 7 g3, a logical move which more or less rules out ...b6, and Black replied 7...e5!:

offering a gambit that White dare not accept. Overall this line looks okay for Black.

Queen's Indian 4 g3 Bb4 5 b3 d5!?

by John-Paul Wallace

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 b3 d5:

The Queen's Indian is usually used as an equalising defence at the Elite level, and I think this attitude then filters down from Grandmaster and master level to club level matches.

However, why can't Black fight for the initiative as he aims to do in most other openings? Why not play 5...d5 and get things moving? Besides, in the 'boring' main lines with 4 g3 Ba6 5 b3 Bb4+ 6 Bd2 Be7 7 Bg2 c6 8 Bc3 d5 9 Ne5 Nfd7 it seems more a question of 'will Black equalise or will he be ground down' in most games. Thus, there is the classical approach that seems to be forgotten - an early ...d5! for Black.

This is significantly more aggressive: Black takes on either hanging pawns, or an isolated pawn, but gains the opportunity for active piece play. After all, when Topalov, let alone Karpov, is not playing White surely you can experiment a bit with the Black pieces? Thus in this months review we shall examine two related systems of development for Black: 5...d5 and 5...Bb4 6 Bd2 Be7 7 Bg2 d5. Of course they can easily transpose into one another.

In our first game Siebrecht - Spraggett, Seville 2007, after 6 Bg2 Bb4 7 Bd2 Be7 the rare move 8 Qc2 is tried, aiming to maintain the tension. However, Spraggett responds powerfully and goes on to win.

In Chuchelov - Tomashevsky, Dresden 2007, Black employs a nice twist: after 6 cxd5 exd5 7 Bg2 Bb4+ 8 Bd2 he plays 8...Bd6 rather than the stereotyped 8...Be7:

A later novelty gave him a reasonable position and in a tense game White collapsed.

One of the most interesting variations occurs after 6 Bg2 dxc4 (which it is true White can avoid with 6 cxd5) and this was tested in Figler - Shabalov, Foxwoods 2007:

After 7 Ne5 Bb4+ 8 Kf1 Bd6 9 Nxc4 Nd5 10 e4 Ne7 11 Bb2 Nbc6 12 Nbd2 Shaba came up with an interesting concept, possibly improving on an earlier game of Kasparov's. Shaba's novelty was rewarded with a fighting victory.

Finally, one of the classical main lines was tested in Yevseev - Smirnov, St Petersburg 2007, where after 6 Bg2 Bb4 7 Bd2 Be7 8 cxd5 exd5 9 0-0 0-0 10 Nc3 Bb7 11 Qc2 Na6 12 Bf4 a position was reached that has been played in hundreds of master games. Black came up with a novelty and then later went for a plan with ...c5, although Kramnik's ...c6 plan is also interesting, and once again equalised easily.

In conclusion, the Queens Indian with 5...d5 is a fully viable system and in practice is likely to offer Black more winning chances than some of the other variations.

Till next time, John