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Hi everyone!

No messing around, straight into the action!

This month we look at two important main lines: I look at some recent games in the Classical (4 Qc2) Nimzo, while Richard Palliser studies the main line of the Modern Main Line of the Modern Benoni, if you can understand that!

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 May '06 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo Indian 4 Qc2 0-0

We kick off this month's proceedings with Khenkin - Timman, Malmö 2006: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 b6 7 Bg5 Bb7 8 e3 d6 9 Ne2 Nbd7 10 Qd3:

I believe it was Bareev who introduced this move (against Karpov, Cap d'Agde 2002). Clearly the queen must move at some point if the knight wishes to reach c3, but at first sight c2 looks like the most logical choice. The problem, however, with having the queen on c2 is that Black gets his usual counterplay against c4 with ...c7-c5 and ...Rc8.

In the game Black plays the normal 10...Ba6 and White plays a refinement discovered by the Turkish GM Suat Atalik. Does Atalik's move give White anything tangible? Difficult to say really, but at least it poses Black one or two new problems.

In M.Gurevich-Ljubojevic, Enschede 2006 Black instead tries 10...c5. Gurevich plays the game in fine style, powerfully making the most of his advantages, but it's not doom and gloom for Black if he plays it the right way.

Nimzo Indian 4 Qc2 d5

Next up it's Zaiatz - Lahno, Sochi 2006: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 c5 7 dxc5 h6 8 Bxf6 Qxf6:

Given that Black seems to be doing okay in the sharp main lines after 8 Bh4 g5 9 Bg3 Ne4, perhaps we'll see more of this solid and safe trade on f6.

Nimzo Indian 4 Qc2 c5

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 c5 5 dxc5 0-0:

Of course 6 a3 is the main move here, but as the game Turov - Riazantsev, Sochi 2006 demonstrates, Black cannot relax entirely after 6 Nf3.

Modern Benoni: Modern Main Line

By Richard Palliser

Looking straight down the critical 9...b5 line we have:
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 Nf3 Bg7 8 h3 0-0 9 Bd3 b5! 10 Bxb5 Nxe4 11 Nxe4 Qa5+ 12 Nfd2 Qxb5 13 Nxd6 Qa6 14 N2c4 Nd7 15 0-0 Now the main line arises after 15...Nb6 16 Nxb6 Qxb6 17 Nxc8 Raxc8. However, Black can also try 15...Ne5!?:

and now we'll look at:

a) 16 Nxe5 (a common move, but not the most critical one) - see Baumegger - Eisenbeiser, Austrian League 2006.

b) 16 Nxc8 Raxc8 17 Nxe5 Bxe5 18 Re1:

and then:

b1) 18...Qd6!? - see Leitao - Mecking, Sao Paulo 2005.
b2) 18...Qf6 - see Blagojevic - Feletar, Zadar Open 2003.

Black's other possibility in this line is 14...Rd8!? 15 Bf4 Nd7 16 0-0 Nb6 17 Nxb6 when 17...Qxb6 transposes to the main line, but 17...axb6!?:

is a logical alternative - see Arlandi - Xie, Mount Buller 2005.

Finally, a break from the accurate struggle for a half point in the main line of the Modern Main Line (confusing terminology, I realise, but actually correct!). Instead we normally employ the Benoni hoping for an exciting game and to seize an early initiative: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 Nf3 a6:

This is a popular way of meeting the MML which we've seen many times before on the site (see Mustayev - Palliser, Oxford 2003).

Back in June!