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I noticed quite a few interesting and theoretically important games in the Queen's Indian in recent tournaments, such as the FIDE Grand Prix in Baku and the European Championship in Plovdiv, so this month I'm concentrating on the QI, with the addition of a couple of Nimzo games. Apologies this month to Benoni fans, I'll try to redress the balance in future updates!

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 May '08 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2

We kick off the action with the game Iljin - Almasi, Plovdiv 2008. Recently the pawn sacrifice line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 dxc4 7 Qxc4 b6 8 Bf4 Ba6 9 Qxc7:

has grabbed some attention, with the previously held belief that Black has enough for the pawn being questioned (for example, White's play was pretty convincing in Carlsen-Adams, Khanty-Mansiysk 2007, annotated by Richard Palliser in an earlier update). Black has been fighting back, though, and Almasi's play in this game provides a good case for the gambit.

Nimzo-Indian 4 Nf3

Next up it's Cheparinov - Bacrot, Baku 2008, which I think provides a good demonstration of how solid the line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Nf3 c5 5 g3 cxd4 6 Nxd4 Ne4 (the main alternative to 6...0-0) 7 Qd3 Qa5 8 Nb3 Nxc3 9 Bd2 Ne4 10 Qxe4 Bxd2+ 11 Nxd2 0-0 12 Bg2 Nc6 is for Black. White can expect at best a very small advantage here, if that.

Queen's Indian 4 g3 Ba6

It could be argued that that the main theoretical development of the Queen's Indian in recent years is the dangerous gambit line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 Qc2 Bb7 6 Bg2 c5 7 d5!:

which has undoubtedly caused Black several headaches over the past couple of years. For the moment the main line seems to be 7...exd5 8 cxd5 Nxd5 9 0-0 Be7 10 Rd1. In Cheparinov - Kamsky, Baku 2008, the American GM played 10...Qc8, which is probably Black's safest move. White got a small edge, but nothing more.

Returning to the traditional 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 b3, in Radjabov - Ivanchuk, Sofia 2008, the Ukrainian GM, on his way to a brilliant 5/5 start, opted for 5...Bb7 6 Bg2 Bb4+ 7 Bd2 a5:

I've always thought this was a good way to play if Black wants to avoid the theoretical lines after 5...Bb4+ 6 Bd2 Be7. It's very thematic in that Black aims for control of e4 - it is typical Queen's Indian strategy and thus fairly easy to play.

Staying with 4 b3 Ba6 we have Kramnik - Anand, Amber Rapid, Nice 2008: 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 f5!?:

12...Rc8 and 12...Nf6 have been by far Black's two most popular moves in this position, and these have been covered quite a bit on this site. There is, however, something quite logical about preventing White's desired e2-e4, and I can only think that 12...f5 hasn't been seen that much because Queen's Indian players probably don't like playing the Dutch Stonewall! When looking at the result I was quite surprised to find that 12...f5 has scored very well, with more wins than losses. By the way, you must check out the brilliant finish to this game! Perhaps a psychological blow for Anand before the big match?

Queen's Indian Bg5 Lines

In Wang Yue-Adams, Baku 2008, there's a move for Black which I think is important for the assessment of one of the main lines: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 Nc3 Bb4 5 Bg5 h6 6 Bh4 g5 7 Bg3 Ne4 8 Qc2 Bb7 9 e3 d6 10 Bd3 Bxc3+ 11 bxc3 f5 12 d5 Na6!:

This is relatively new, and may well be an important idea. It's very similar to the main move, 12...Nd7, and indeed there are transpositions. But in at least one line it helps Black that his knight is on a6 rather than d7.

Finally, Navarro Molina-Jaracz, Laguna 2008, is a bit of a mismatch, but I chose to include it because after 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 Nc3 Bb4 5 Qc2 Bb7 6 Bg5 (5 Bg5 Bb7 6 Qc2 is a much more common move order) 6...h6 7 Bh4:

Black chose to play 7...Bxc3+!?. It's highly rare for Black to capture on c3 without the provocation of a2-a3 if White is able to recapture with the queen. Isn't he for all purposes a tempo down on a 4 Qc2 Nimzo? Well yes, he is, and yet the resulting positions can't simply be dismissed as better for White. Check out the game to see why this is so.

All the best with your Nimzo/Queen's Indian adventures!

Till next time, John