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Hi everyone,
Not much Nimzo action at the Mexico World Championship - just one game! Everyone seemed to be playing Marshall attacks, Petroff defences, Semi-Slavs and Catalans. Defending champion Vladimir Kramnik did end up playing a kind of Modern Benoni in one game, against Morozevich, but this seemed to be rather by accident than design, and given that the opening moves to that game were 1 c4 c5 2 Nc3 g6 3 e3 Bg7 4 d4 Nf6 5 d5 0-0 6 Nf3 e6 7 Be2 exd5 8 cxd5 d6, it was almost as if he was tricked into it. Although with White playing an e2-e3 variation I'm not really sure who's tricking who here!
Luckily, though, elsewhere there were still some very interesting Nimzo games at a level slightly below the stratospheric to look at this month. Richard Palliser has also annotated three of his recent games in the Nimzo and Modern Benoni.

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 '07 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2 d5

First up it's the game Nechepurenko - Khairullin, Krasnoyarsk 2007. After 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 Ne4 7 Qc2 e5 8 cxd5 the Russian youngster tried 8...Bf5!?:

a move which has also been played by Motylev. I think that this is the move Black has to get to work if he wants to play 7...e5, especially since 8...Qxd5 was dealt a blow in Kasparov-Adams, Linares 2005.

Nimzo-Indian: Karpov Variation

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 c4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6 6 Nf3 Bb4 7 Bd3 dxc4 8 Bxc4 0-0 9 0-0 b6 10 Bg5 Bb7 11 Ne5 Bxc3 12 bxc3 Qc7:

I think previously this line was considered to be harmless from Black's point of view, and maybe this opinion was created by the large number of games that have ended in the forced perpetual check after 12...Qc7 13 Bxf6 gxf6 14 Qg4+ Kh8 15 Qh4 fxe5 16 Qf6+ Kg8 17 Qg5+. But in fact White has more than one promising way to avoid this premature way to finish the game. He can play very aggressively or try for a small positional advantage. Either way, this makes 11...Bxc3 12 bxc3 Qc7 a less than safe choice for Black, at least unless he knows the nuances of the position very well.

In Galazewski - Roberson, Sibenik 2007, White opted for 13 Bd3!?. We've already looked at 13 Bb3 before, but in a way 13 Bd3 is even more dangerous, as the bishop points directly at Black's rather unprotected kingside.

Nimzo-Indian 4 e3 b6

Emil Sutovsky doesn't usually venture the Nimzo-Indian, but in Abeln - Sutovsky, Antalya 2007, he did so and looked very much at home too. The line he chose was an unusual one, but it doesn't look bad at all: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 Nge2 Bb7 6 a3 Bd6!?:

I must confess that I was unaware of this move before seeing this game, despite the fact that it's been tried out by one or two very strong players. 6...Bd6 is more dynamic than 6...Be7, and one of the points is that d4-d5 can now be answered by ...c6 without fear of White playing d5-d6 - a big worry with the bishop on e7. With White's main positional idea less effective, he has to search for other ways to try for an advantage.

Nimzo-Indian Sämisch Variation

Vl.Georgiev-Efimenko, Isle of Man 2007, started 1 d4 e6 2 c4 Nf6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 c5 7 Bd3 Nc6 and now instead of the usual 8 Ne2 White tried 8 e4?!:

This pawn offer has been played a few times before - and by some strong players - but Efimenko's solution for Black might well just consign it to the garbage bin. Click the game to find out how he brutally dealt with it.

Nimzo-Indian: The Zurich Variation

Richard Palliser writes:

John's asked me to analyse a few games which I played in recent tournaments in Liverpool and the Isle of Man. One's a win, but the other two were painful defeats...I just hope that revealing them to you, the reader, will help you to do as I say not as I do!

One pet line of mine has long been 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 Nc6. In M.Gurevich-Palliser, I was up against one of the world's leading experts on the Classical Nimzo and eager, if a little apprehensive, to see what he would play. The game saw the rare but by no means innocuous 5 Nf3 d6 6 Bg5 h6 7 Bd2 0-0 8 a3 Bxc3 9 Bxc3 Qe7 10 h3!?:

The good news for Zurich fans is that their solid opening can withstand this assault and indeed Gurevich later admitted that in over twenty years with 4 Qc2 he is yet to find a route to the advantage after 4...Nc6!

Modern Benoni: The Modern Main Line

Palliser - Berg (for which I'm grateful to Malcolm Pein of CHESS for permission to reproduce and expand on my original annotations) followed the heavily-theoretical main line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 h3 Bg7 8 Bd3 0-0 9 Nf3 b5 10 Bxb5 Nxe4 11 Nxe4 Qa5+ 12 Nfd2 Qxb5 13 Nxd6 Qa6 14 N2c4 Nd7 15 0-0 Nb6 16 Nxb6 until Black deviated with the rare 16...axb6:

I must admit to not being too impressed by this idea and with a couple of forceful moves I soon gained a pleasant position. Should Black not want to defend the ultimate main line (when he either needs to play a queen and a rook ending a pawn down or opt for a queen against two rooks), we've examined a couple of options before on this site. In my notes I return to both of these: 14...Rd8 15 Bf4 Nd7 16 0-0 Nb6 17 Nxb6 axb6 is not looking quite as healthy as it was due to a recent novelty, but 14...Nd7 15 0-0 Ne5!? still looks like a good approach.

Modern Benoni: The Anti-MML

Black often aims to sidestep the Modern Main Line with the move order 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 c5 4 d5 d6 5 Nc3 exd5 6 cxd5 g6, intending 7 e4 a6. Another route for White is 7 h3 a6 8 a4 as she chose in Dworakowska - Palliser when 8...Qe7 9 Bg5 reaches a position which theory considers to be fine for Black, but from which White has scored 3/3 in 2007:

Is theory correct here and have the black players just played like misguided fools?

Till next time, John