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Hi everyone! Welcome to this month's update, where we'll be looking at recent games from the Nimzo-Indian, Queen's Indian and Modern Benoni.

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 March '05 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo-Indian Classical Variation: 4 Qc2 d5

First up is the game Bareev - Topalov, Monte Carlo (rapid) 2005 in which the dynamic Bulgarian Grandmaster comes up with an incredible novelty at move five! The game begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5

So far pretty normal. Now Black usually plays the sharp 5...cxd5 or the more positional 5...Qxd5. I have over 1600 games in my database that reach the position after 5 cxd5, but none of them comes up with what Topalov does now. What does he play? Click on the game link and find out!

Next up it's another Topalov game, but this time he's playing on the on the white side. Topalov - Adams, Linares 2005 begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 a3 (this seems to be just as popular as 5 cxd5 at the moment) 5...Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 Ne4 (the most aggressive approach) 7 Qc2 e5!?

Although this move is much less popular than 7...Nc6 and 7...c5, it has the same motive: opening up the position as quickly as possible in order to exploit Black's slight development advantage. Mickey Adams used it twice in Linares, against Topalov here and later on against Kasparov.

Nimzo-Indian 4 f3/ Sämisch

Cafolla-B.Socko, Cork 2005 begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 f3. This move is very closely linked with the Sämisch Variation 4 a3 (indeed, as in this game, it can transpose). It will be interesting to see whether 4 f3 becomes popular in light of Yuri Yakovich's recent book on this subject. Socko reacts with 4...0-0:

In the past this natural-looking move has been much less popular than both 4...c5 and 4...d5 (there are examples of these moves on the website - see ECO codes E20 and E25), but it's unclear why. I suspect that it's because 5 e4 used to be considered a strong response, but this is not the case any longer. Instead in this game White goes back into the Sämisch with 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3.

In the game N.Pedersen-Cu.Hansen, Koege 2005 we reach the traditional main line of the Sämisch: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 c5 7 Bd3 Nc6 8 Ne2 b6 9 e4 Ne8 (this should be well known to viewers by now: Black sidesteps the possible pin with Bg5 and prepares ...Nd6) 10 0-0 Ba6 11 f4:

In a couple of early games in this line, Black allowed White's pawn to reach f6 and was blown away on the kingside. Since then Black has rightly prevented White's pawn from reaching f6. Virtually everyone does this with 11...f5 (there are quite a few examples of this move in ChessPub). However, Hansen chose 11...f6!? and I've noticed one or two GMs playing this more restrained move recently. The advantage is that Black keeps the position more closed.

Queen's Indian/Nimzo-Indian hybrid

Next up it's Berczes - Greet, Budapest 2005: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 Nc3 Bb4 5 Bg5 Bb7 6 Qc2!? (a tricky move, protecting c3, covering e4 and remaining flexible over where to place the e-pawn) 6...h6 7 Bh4 g5!? 8 Bg3 Ne4 9 Be5!? Bxc3+ 10 bxc3 Rg8!?

I remember analysing 10...Rg8 with Chris Ward many years ago and I was happy enough to suggest it for Black in Easy Guide to the Nimzo-Indian. The point is that the obvious block with 10...f6 11 Nd2! is annoying for Black as capturing on d2 allows a decisive check on g6: 11 ..Nxd2?? 12 Qg6+! Kf8 13 Bxf6 . Instead Black must play 11...fxe5 but 12 Nxe4 is probably a bit better for White.

Modern Benoni: Mikenas Attack

Tozer - Palliser, Doncaster 2005 begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 f4 Bg7 8 e5 (the Mikenas Attack) 8...Nfd7 (the safest move) 9 Ne4 dxe5 10 Nd6+ Ke7 11 Nb5!? Na6!?:

This looks like an attractive way for Black to play if he doesn't fancy sacrificing a rook for an admittedly huge initiative. The 'main line' runs 11...Re8 12 d6+ Kf8 13 Nc7 exf4+ 14 Be2! (see Marjanovic-Bednarich, Nova Gorica 2000 in ChessPub - ECO code A66). Obviously Black has will have oodles of compensation after 14...Nc6 or 14...Qh4+!?, but as Richard Palliser mentions, if White captures on a8, 'a rook is a rook!'

Modern Benoni: Old Classical Variation

Finally this month, some accurate and positional chess from Black equalises comfortably in the Old Classical: Vavrak - Ionescu, Bar 2005 runs 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 c5 4 d5 d6 5 Nc3 exd5 6 cxd5 g6 7 Nd2 (White uses this clever move order to reach the Old Classical Variation without allowing Black the possibility of an early ...Bg4) 7...Bg7 8 e4 0-0 9 Be2 Na6


Black is going for the plan with ...Na6-c7. From the c7-square the knight supports the ...b7-b5 advance and makes e4-e5 more difficult for White on account of the pressure on d5.

That's all folks! See you next month.

Best wishes, John