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Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2
One of the key main lines of the 4 Qc2 Nimzo continues to be 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 h6 7 Bh4 and now 7...c5 8 dxc5 g5 9 Bg3. A huge amount of theory has developed in this line over the past 20 years. However, recent events have led me to believe that Black has a serious alternative in the form of 7...g5!? 8 Bg3 Ne4 9 e3 h5!?:
The earlier consensus was that White could expect a small but risk-free edge by playing 10 f3, but the game Cmilyte - Kosteniuk, Dagomys 2010, which continued 10...Nxg3 11 hxg3 Qe7!, seems to challenge this view.
The most critical response by White might well be 10 Bd3!?, and this certainly does at least lead to much sharper play. However, the analysis in Potterat - Turzynski, ICCF 2000, suggests that Black gets a perfectly playable position if he proceeds accurately.
Nimzo-Indian 4 Nf3
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Nf3 c5 5 g3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Qa5:
Black enjoys a good choice of reasonable options against the Kasparov Variation, but I think this one might appeal to quite a few Nimzo players because Black sticks where possible to the plan of attacking c4 - that is, typical Nimzo strategy. Compare this to the main line, 5...cxd4 6 Nxd4 0-0 7 Bg2 d5 8 cxd5 Nxd5, where the c4-pawn disappears quickly.
One critical continuation from here is 7 Bd2 b6 8 Bg2 Bb7 9 0-0 0-0 and now:
a) 10 Qc2!? is covered in Neelotpal - Adhiban, Olongapo City 2010.
b) 10 d5!? is considered in Sasikiran - Timman, Antwerp 2009.
Finally, in Lenderman - Kacheishvili, Mesa 2009, we look at other options for White, including 7 Qd3, 7 Qb3 and the interesting pawn sac 7 Bg2!?.
Queen's Indian: 4 g3
A bonus this month! I'm indebted to IM Kevin Goh Wei Ming for allowing me to publish his annotations to one of his games, in the Queen's Indian pawn sac variation: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 Qc2 c5 6 d5:
See Abhijit Gupta-Goh Wei Ming, Asian Continental 2010, for detailed notes on this very topical line.
Modern Benoni: Fianchetto Variation
Finally this month, here are a couple of potentially promising ideas in the Fianchetto Variation, one for either colour.
First, there's the game Wang Hao-Tomashevsky, Dagomys 2010. After the standard 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 g3 c5 4 d5 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 Nc3 g6 7 Bg2 Bg7 8 Nf3 0-0 9 0-0 a6 10 a4 Nbd7 11 Bf4 Qe7 12 h3 Nh5 13 Bg5 f6 14 Bd2 f5:
Wang Hao ignores all the previous games played from this position and unleashes 15 e4!?, a move Black's 14...f5 was supposed to prevent!
GM Vugar Gashimov is fast becoming the player to follow if you're a real Modern Benoni fan. He certainly doesn't disappoint in the game Nikolic - Gashimov, Bundesliga 2010. He somehow manages to confuse his opponent, himself a Fianchetto expert, by employing a tricky move order: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 c5 4 d5 d6 5 Nc3 exd5 6 cxd5 g6 7 g3 Bg7 8 Bg2 0-0 9 0-0 Re8 10 Nd2 Nbd7 11 a4 b6!?.
Till next time, John