May 2000 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.
After the heady success of last month, it was always going to be difficult to keep to the high standards. Predictably Modern Benoni players suffered a backlash. According to TWIC, Black scored 7 wins, 5 draws and 12 losses in the last four weeks.
We start our coverage with the game Labollita- Rosito, Mar del Plata 2000, which features a rather special novelty, a vertical rook move as early as move 9. It will be extremely interesting if Labollita's 9 Ra3!! catches on.
Next up is the game Yermolinsky-Wedberg, New York 2000, in which the American GM uses a very fashionable line which allows Black to play the thematic ...b7-b5. I'm very familiar with this line myself, having had mixed experience on the Black side. In this game Wedberg commits similar errors to ones I made against the Russian GM Alexei Dreev, and is rewarded with a severe beating.
Completing a hat-trick of White wins in this section (who says I'm biased towards Benoni players?) is a very nice positional encounter Kelecevic-Burgermeister, Lenk 2000. Black reaches a perfectly playable position from the Old Classical Variation, but is gradually pushed back as White puts in a model performance. White's central breakthrough in this game is well worth a second look.
Results-wise this was a dismal month for the Weird Benoni specialists, with Black scoring a measly 30% (5 wins, 5 draws and 15 losses). However, it's not all doom and gloom. Probably the most important theoretical novelty came from Black this month. The game Hasidovski-Greenfeld, Ramat Aviv 2000 sees the Israeli GM breathe new life into the 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 c5 3 d5 b5 4 Bg5 Ne4!? line. It seemed as if Kasparov had laid this one to rest 14 years ago, but the new continuation 5 Bh4 Bb7!? certainly does the business for Black here. This is definitely worth a further look.
Predictably the Queen's Indian has put in another "solid" performance this month. White continues to find it hard to break down, while Black players find it even more difficult to drum up winning chances (this month's statistics are 21 White wins, 18 Black wins and 37 draws, so once again "draw" is the favourite result).
Gunawan-Seirawan, Bali 2000 sees the American Grandmaster employing the slightly weird 4 a3 c6!?, which has not attracted many other players, but it has worked for him. In this particular encounter White's play is rather innocuous and Seirawan had more than equalised when the players agreed a draw.
Finally, we end with the game Grooten-Tiviakov, Rotterdam 2000, in which Tiviakov utilises his favourite line of 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 b3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 0-0 0-0 7 Nc3 Na6 (rather than the more popular, but less ambitious 7...Ne4). Tiviakov is an expert in this line and his knowledge is too much for Grooten on this occasion.
Well there have been some developments in the 'Classical Nimzo' 6 b5!? pawn sacrifice (covered last month), but I just want to take some time out to digest them. Besides I hate to neglect mail and one rare piece of feedback included:
"As you called for questions on the Nimzo-Indian, here is one line that has fascinated me for a while, 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 b6 7 0-0 Bb7 8 cxd5 exd5 9 a3 Bd6 10 b4 Re8 11 Qb3 a6
12 a4 Nbd7 13 Ba3. There is a game Cooper-Spragett, where Black very efficiently takes advantage of White's Achilles heel in all these lines: the absence of his pieces from the King side. I was wondering your views on the merits of this line for both sides and what plans make sense."
I can't promise to always answer all questions fully like this, but this month is dedicated to this enquiry with me hopefully showing why this line is no longer in vogue and what has taken it's place. Specifically then the game Zilberman-Huebner. follows up to move 13, with Sadler-Korchnoi. deviating with 9 Ne5.
Until next time,
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