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Hi subscribers,

This month we take a look at some offbeat lines of the Nimzo, 4 a3 and 4 Bg5!? in the Queen's Indian, a Modern Benoni without ...Nf6 and we revisit the Keres Defence (that's 1 d4 e6 2 c4 Bb4+ to the uninitiated).

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 November '05 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo-Indian Leningrad 4 Bg5

Many thanks go to José Soza, who shares his thoughts on a line of the Leningrad that holds particular interest for me because it's one I recommended for Black in my (now quite old!) book Easy Guide to the Nimzo-Indian. The game Rain - Soza, correspondence 2003 begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Bg5 c5 5 d5 d6 6 e3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 Qe7!?:

By leaving the bishop on g5, Black hopes to use the fact that it's vulnerable to an attack by the queen. The game continued 8 Bd3 Nbd7 9 Nf3 0-0 0-0 exd5 11 cxd5 Ne5 12 Nxe5 Qxe5 13 Bxf6 Qxf6, a position that I originally assessed as equal. However, José believes that White still keeps an edge here and provides some analysis to back up his assertion.

Nimzo-Indian 4 f3

More now on a line that continues to be fashionable. Palliser - Sundararajan, Port Erin 2005 begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 f3 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 c5 7 cxd5 Nxd5 8 dxc5 and now 8...Nd7!?:

This alternative to 8...Qa5 and 8...f5 is an interesting move-order wrinkle for Black. It's strange that this seemingly natural move hasn't been played more often (it's not even mentioned in Yuri Yakovich's book on 4 f3, although Chris Ward does devote a game to it in his Offbeat Nimzo-Indian).

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 cxd5

Swiss GM Vadim Milov is perhaps the world's leading expert on the Rubinstein Nimzo. After 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5:

he usually plays 6 a3 here (6 Nf3 reaches the 'main line') but in Milov - Naiditsch, Corsica Masters 2005 he instead opts for 6 cxd5 exd5 7 Nge2, a line that Kasparov has dabbled with in the distant past, and is rewarded with a win in under 20 moves.

Queen's Indian 4 a3 c5

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 a3, the move 4...c5:

isn't particularly popular, but it's not a bad try if Black is happy to play Benoni-type positions. That said, I guess Black already had this option at move three! Straeter - Cu.Hansen, Bundesliga 2005 is a wonderful game from Black, but theoretically speaking my impression is that White misses a good chance on move 14 to gain a definite edge.

Queen's Indian 4 Bg5

Jobava - Carlsen, Skanderborg 2005 begins 1 c4 Nf6 2 d4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 Bg5!?:

One or two strong GMs have been playing this rare move recently. I'm not quite sure what advantage there is over this move when compared to 4 Nc3 followed by 5 Bg5. Is it that White intends to meet ...Bb4+ with Nbd2 here?

The Keres Defence (1 d4 e6 2 c4 Bb4+!?)

Cmilyte - Eingorn, Hamburg 2005 is definitely worth checking out because Eingorn is a real specialist of the Keres Defence and perhaps what Cmilyte plays is a real critical test of the viability of this line. Eingorn prevails in the end, but it's not 100% convincing.

The Pseudo Modern Benoni

As well as 2...Bb4+, Black has another option with 1 d4 e6 2 c4 c5!? 3 d5 exd5 4 cxd5 d6 5 Nc3 g6:

a Pseudo Modern Benoni in which Black can delay or even omit ...Nf6 in favour of ...Ne7. There are certain advantages to Black's set-up - see Gupta - Koneru, Hyderabad 2005.

That's it for now. See you next month!