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Hi Everyone,
I was just about to finish off this month's update when I checked Game 2 of the World Championship match between Anand and Kramnik. I was curious to find out which opening would arise in the first game with Kramnik as Black: the Petroff, the Berlin, some other solid Ruy Lopez, the Sveshnikov? No, it was the f3 Nimzo; I should have guessed that!
After recovering from the shock, I hastily made room for this game in the update. I wonder whether after the previous World Championship full of Slavs, is it going to be the turn of the Nimzo, or even the 4 f3 Nimzo?
Anyway, let's get straight on with the games, which amongst other things includes what must be one of Peter Svidler's shortest ever losses.

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 October '08 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo-Indian 4 f3

Let's begin with Anand - Kramnik, Bonn 2008, and Anand's surprising choice, 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 f3 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 c5 7 cxd5 Nxd5 8 dxc5 f5 (we've covered 8...Qa5 a fair bit on this site, but 8...f5 is equally playable) 9 Qc2:

9...Nd7!? This is very rare, but it's quite understandable that Kramnik would want to deviate from theory as soon as possible. In fact Kramnik achieved a fairly comfortable position from the opening, although later Anand did manage to gain some advantage.

Recently there's been some interest in the line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 f3 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Nh5!?:

Black has usually preferred to avoid the pin by playing the trademark Sämisch retreat 6...Ne8 and after 7 Nh3 b6 8 e4 Ba6 9 Bd3 Nc6 we reach a fairly typical position (see the notes to Cafolla-Socko, Cork 2005). 6...Nh5 is more outwardly aggressive, with Black planning to follow up with ...f5. After 7 Nh3 f5, we have two games. In Abergel - Adams, Liverpool 2008, White opts for the restrained 8 e3 (I also cover alternatives here), while the more aggressive 8 Nf2 followed by e2-e4 is studied in Mamedyarov - Fedorchuk, Villarrobledo 2008.

Nimzo-Indian: Karpov Variation

Timofeev - Svidler, Moscow 2008, revisits the line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 0-0 dxc4 8 Bxc4 cxd4 9 exd4 b6 10 Bg5 Bb7 11 Re1 Nbd7 12 Rc1 Rc8:

and now the tricky 13 Qb3!?. Kramnik played this move with success against Kasparov in their 2000 match, but subsequent games and analysis has shown that if Black plays accurately he should be okay. That said, it's not that easy to play for Black over the board or without preparation, and Svidler comes badly unstuck, running into a mating attack and having to resign in just six more moves!

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2 d5

I came across a recent game in the line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 c5 7 dxc5 h6 8 Bh4 g5 9 Bg3 Ne4 10 e3 Qa5 11 Nge2 Bf5 12 Be5 0-0 13 Nd4 and now 13...Re8:

13...Re8 was mentioned by Kasparov after his 1993 match with Short, although it wasn't actually played until eight years later. The main move has been 13...Nxc3 (see, for example, the notes to Bareev-Carlsen, Khanty Mansiysk 2005).

The recent game in question wasn't important, as White played poorly. However, it did lead me back to an earlier game, Ibrahimov - Mamedyarov, Baku 2006, which is certainly worthy of inclusion because of Mamedyarov's delightful piece sacrifice. I've tried to summarise the theory of 13...Re8 in the notes.

In Priborsky - Gordon, Liverpool 2008, White tries the rare move 11 Rc1!?:

There has been very little theoretical coverage of this move, and it's unclear what Black's best response is. In the game Black tried the logical looking 11...Nd7?! but this move seems to allow White the opportunity to claim a clear advantage.

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4

5 e4 continues to be an important try for White, not least because of the recent interest in the line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 d5 6 e5 Ne4 7 Bd3 c5 8 Nge2!? (as opposed to the older 8 cxd5 exd5 9 Nge2):

8 Nge2 is becoming more and more fashionable, and at the moment White's results are pretty encouraging. Fridman - Wells, Liverpool 2008, is another win for White, and it seems to me that Black needs something here because it all looks a bit too comfortable for White at the moment.

That's it for this month. Till next time, John