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Hi everyone!
This month I'd like to welcome a new guest contributor to the Nimzo site, John-Paul Wallace (although he's certainly not new to - some of you may have seen his annotations on the 1 d4 d5 section). This month John-Paul takes a look at an annoying line against the Nimzo (for Black that is), while I cover a fast-growing pawn sacrifice in the Queen's Indian.

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 October '06 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Nge2

by John-Paul Wallace

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Nge2:

As some of you may have noticed, I recently annotated some games on the Catalan for the d4-d5 section. One of my conclusions there was that with that opening White, while not aiming for much, risks very little and has the chance of gaining a nagging edge. I see this 5 Nge2 line as a similar type of weapon. In most lines, particularly in the structure with cxd5 exd5, White's position is just that little bit easier to play than Black's, even if one must call it 'objectively equal'. Like the Catalan, this nature of the play is born out in the results, White wins a few, mostly draws and loses fairly rarely! Grandmaster John Emms correctly - and interestingly - points out that the 5 Nge2 can be frustrating for a Nimzo player to meet. This is because, firstly, the doubled c-pawns are just not going to happen, and secondly the play will often revert to a Queens Gambit structure which Nimzo players might be less familiar with. In order to build your understanding of this variation I recommend a comparison with a related variation: 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 cxd5 exd5 7 Ne2.

5...d5 6 a3 Be7

Traditionally this has been seen as the main line. However, more recently 6...Bd6 (see Bosch - Werle, Hilversum 2006 and Jobava - Almasi, Wijk aan Zee 2006) has gained in popularity, where Black allows the advance 7 c5, as well as 6...Be7 7 cxd5 Nxd5 which attempts to relieve the pressure through an exchange of minor pieces.

7 cxd5 exd5:

Now 8 b4 is covered in Aronian - Adams, Wijk aan Zee 2006, while in Sasikiran - Landa, Moscow 2006, White opts for the kingside fianchetto with 8 g3.

Queens Indian: 4 g3

After the moves 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 there's recently been an explosion of interest in the previously frowned upon 5 Qc2!?:

This is mainly because of two related pawn sacrifices that have breathed new life into the variation.

One of the pawn sacrifices in question is 5...Bb7 6 Bg2 c5 7 d5!:

See both Tregubov - Greet, European Club Cup 2006, and Tregubov - Sargissian, Mainz 2006.

The related pawn sacrifice was seen in Mamedyarov - Gelfand, Wijk aan Zee 2006 after 5...c5 (this is the move that I always considered to be the reason why no one played 5 Qc2) 6 d5!:

when Black can win a pawn with 6...exd5 7 cxd5 Bb7 8 e4 Qe7! hitting e4 and d5. However, Mamedyarov's 9 Bd3! (instead of the old 9 Bg2?!) seems to give White very good play.

Early indications show that Black is in need of something here to stay alive in these lines and I anticipate further developments. However, if Black is unwilling to enter the pawn sac lines, then 5...Bb4+:

as seen in Porth - Van den Doel, Baden Baden 2006, looks a reasonable try for Black, and it will be interesting to see if this catches on.

Until next time, John