ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
After a couple of Benoni updates we're back on the Nimzo-Indian this month, but I'm taking a quick break from the heavy-duty theoretical lines of the ever-popular Classical (okay, one of these sneaked in!). Instead I concentrate on an anti-Hübner line for White. These lines tend to be much less theoretical. Not an incredible amount has happened in recent years, at least not when compared to the Classical, and a couple of games I've chosen are from quite a while ago!

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 March '08 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo-Indian: Modern Variation

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 c5 5 Bd3 Nc6 6 Nge2 cxd4 7 exd4 d5:

6 Nge2 became popular as a way of avoiding the reliable Hübner Variation 6 Nf3 Bxc3+! 7 bxc3 d6. With the knight on e2, Black can no longer inflict White with doubled c-pawns and must look for other ways to gain counterplay. The most popular method has been 6...cxd4 7 exd4 d5 with the intention of reaching a typical IQP position with the one difference being the position of White's king's knight: e2 instead of f3. Many would argue that in general f3 is the better square for the knight simply because it exerts more influence over the centre, and on the e5-square in particular. But this is probably a bit too simplistic, and there are certain advantages with having the knight on e2. For a start it defends the other knight on c3 (important in 8 cxd5 Nxd5 lines), while there's also the possibility of Nf4 in order to support the d4-d5 advance.

We begin with the game Milov - Sharavdorj, Las Vegas 2006, in which Milov - an expert on this line, tries to improve for White in the line 8 cxd5 Nxd5 9 0-0 0-0 10 Bc2 Bd6 11 Ne4 Be7 12 a3 Qc7:

This ambitious move, preparing to attack d4 with a quick ...Rd8, was introduced by Ivanchuk in 1994 and has since taken over as the main line. Black's results were pretty good and not much has happened in the last few years to challenge the assessment that Black is okay, but in this game I check to see whether White can pose some new problems for Black.

The other way to reach an IQP is with 8 0-0 dxc4 9 Bxc4 0-0:

Again there has been little action recently in a line which is not meant to be especially threatening for Black, so I searched through older games and came across some with White playing 10 Be3!?.

This is a rare move - normally White has chosen 10 a3 or 10 Bg5. At first I wasn't sure of its merits, but after playing over a few games I realised there's something to be said about it. Sure, the bishop is more active on g5, but after ...Be7 there's always a danger of too many exchanges for White's liking. With the bishop on e3, White frees the knight on e2 so it can move to f4 (or sometimes g3). One of White's ideas is a very quick d4-d5 and Black has to make sure he is prepared for this advance as it can easily lead to a White advantage in certain positions. This approach works well in Keene - Blackstock, China, 1981, and also in Mukhin-Hübner, Suhumi 1972, where the famous German Grandmaster gets into big trouble after failing to find the right course for Black. Finally in this line with 10 Be3 there is the game Sorokin - Chebotarev, Kazan 2005, in which White wins with a direct attack with the creative idea of f4-f5. White doesn't often have the chance to play like this in IQP positions, but sometimes - as here - it can be brutally effective.

We finish with a more recent game, Townsend - Palliser, Doncaster 2008, in which Black plays 8 0-0 Be7!?:

This is quite a rare move, but certainly not a bad one. Black voluntarily withdraws his bishop - White might play c4-c5 otherwise - and keeps his options open on whether to capture on c4 or not.

Nimzo-Indian: Classical Variation

In a recent London League match I took on Andrew Whiteley with the Black pieces. The game opened 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 d5 6 e5 Ne4 7 a3 Bxc3+ 8 bxc3 c5 and now 9 Bb2!?:

I must confess that even though I knew this move existed (9 Bd3 is the main move), it took me a while to remember/work out how Black was supposed to respond. Eventually I recalled the theoretically approved 9...cxd4 10 cxd4 Bd7!, whereupon White played 11 Ne2!, so that the check on a5 can be blocked with Nc3. Overall I don't think 9 Bb2 is anything for Black to worry about. But the positions are very complicated, and facing it over the board - especially if unprepared (or if you can't remember!) - is not such an easy task. Check out Whiteley - Emms, London League 2008.

Schmid Benoni: 5...0-0!?

Finally, while I was playing against Whitely, I had a good view of the game N.Pert-J.Ehlvest, London League 2008, which was being played on an adjacent board. The game opened 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 c5 3 d5 g6 4 Nc3 Bg7 5 e4 0-0!?:

This move is highly provocative and the chances are it just doesn't work, assuming White plays accurately. But it's possible that it still holds some surprise value, and so against certain opponents it might be worth a punt. Nick Pert, though, played the critical response 6 e5! Ng4 7 Ng5!, and won very quickly with a powerful attack.

Till next time, John