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Nimzo-Indian Sämisch Variation
We kick off with a look at the main line Sämisch: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 a3 Bxc3+ 5 bxc3 c5 6 e3 0-0 7 Bd3 Nc6 8 Ne2 b6 9 e4 Ne8 10 0-0 Ba6 11 f4 f5 12 d5:
This pawn offer (12...Na5 13 e5! Bxc4 14 Bxc4 Nxc4 15 d6, as seen in Milov-J.Polgar, Moscow 2001, which I previously annotated on this site) has been an attempt in recent years to inject some life into the mainline Sämisch, which had generally gone a bit flat due to Karpov's efforts with Black. However, in view of Black's convincing response in a recent game, I'm tempted now to award 12 d5 a question mark. Have a look at Radjabov - Leko, Monte Carlo (rapid) 2007. Is it back to the drawing board for Sämisch players?
Nimzo-Indian 4 e3
The game N.Pert-Aleksandrov, Dresden 2007, isn't of the utmost theoretical importance, but it does illustrate White's attacking chances in the Karpov Variation and related lines.
Nimzo-Indian 4 Qb3
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qb3:
Overall the Spielmann Variation is not very popular these days, although a few strong GMs (Akopian, Epishin, Malaniuk) do play it occasionally. In a recent game Black produced an interesting pawn sacrifice on move eight, and two moves later White resigned! Find out what happened in Stern - Landa, Bundesliga 2007.
Queen's Indian 4 g3
If there's one line that's currently being investigated to its absolute limit, the line in question must surely be 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 b3 Bb4+ 6 Bd2 Be7 7 Bg2 c6 8 Bc3 d5 9 Ne5 Nfd7 10 Nxd7 Nxd7 11 Nd2 0-0 12 0-0 Rc8 13 e4 c5 14 exd5 exd5 15 dxc5 dxc4 16 c6 cxb3 17 Re1 b2 18 Bxb2 Nc5:
In a recent update I wrote: "The guys at the top of the tree are beginning to work this whole line out and Black seems to be doing okay. Is it possible in a few years time, despite its dangerous appearance, it will be labelled as 'harmless' (or perhaps 'mostly harmless')?"
Perhaps I was a bit premature with this statement, as more up-to-date games have shown there's still plenty of life in this variation. At the moment the elite are concentrating on the continuation 19 Nc4 Bxc4 20 Qg4 Bg5 21 Qxc4 Nd3 22 Be5 Nxe1 23 Rxe1 Bf6 24 Bxf6 Qxf6 25 c7 Qd6 26 Rc1 b5 27 Qc2 g6 28 Bb7, which originally was believed to hold no real fears for Black. Ivanchuk - Aronian, Monte Carlo (rapid) 2007, plus other recent games show that this is no longer the case. At the very minimum it seems that Black must display extreme accuracy to earn his draw. I must confess that I was fascinated by the endgames that arise, although I do admit that playing theory up to move 28 and beyond won't be everybody's cup of tea!
Modern Benoni: Classical Variation
Chris Ward has kindly annotated a recent game of his in the Modern Benoni. Watch out for some twists and turns, plus a rook versus four passed pawns endgame, in Vijayalakshmi - Ward, Reykjavik 2007.
(by John-Paul Wallace)
In the first two games we shall take a look at the developments in the main line with 4 Bd2 Qe7 5 g3 Nc6:
In Hansen - Berczes White chose the increasingly popular 6 Nc3 and with a novelty on the 14th move managed to win the initiative and later the game. In Pedersen - Shkapenko the old main line with 6 Bg2 Bxd2 7 Nbxd2 was tried but White was unable to achieve anything from the opening and was later comprehensively outplayed.
In the game Tregubov - Ballaiche Black experimented with 4 Bd2 c5!?:
Unfortunately for him this line no longer has much surprise value and Tregubov gained the advantage and won a good game. Tregubov's novelty was also impressive, although Kramnik had already shown White to have a better game in this line.
The important variation with 4 Nbd2 b6!? is examined in our final game Krasenkow - Willemze. Although this game was a terrible rout for Black, with the right finesse on the 12th move he could have steered clear of trouble.
Till next time, John