September '00 Update
GM John Emms rounds up the latest in these Nimzo and Benoni Systems, with the help of guest GM Chris Ward in the Nimzo-Indian.
Is this the end for 8...Nbd7?
First of all, I must say many thanks for all the e-mails Chris and I have received about the Nimzo, Benoni and other openings on this site. Keep them coming in and we will try to answer them as soon as we can. In fact we start this month with a query over the dangerous Flick Knife Attack.
Justin Baptie writes:
"Now I grant that the Flick-knife Attack is a slight (?!) problem for the Benoni player and that 8...Nbd7 is probably not the best move. However, having spent some time looking at the games you show (Sokolov-Topalov, Wijk aan Zee 1996 and the more recent 19...Qe4 in Asgeirsson - Bjornsson, Reykjavik 1998) I was beginning to believe that Black can at least have an entertaining (and probably hair-raising) game (certainly for a player of my standard). It certainly did not appear that it was losing outright. So I was preparing to brave 2...c5.
However, having looked at ChessBase's offering on the Benoni by Jean Hebert I find the move (after 9 e5 dxe5 10 fxe5 Nh5 11 e6 Qh4) 12 Kd2 lurking in the background.
After my initial thoughts that surely White's king is going to be a nice target for black I find in fact that this seems to be rather strong.
Having found out all I could about this, (Psakhis does not mention it nor does NCO) I find that on my database it has only been played four times and two of those can be ignored due to gross blunders. David Norwood described the position after 12 Kd2 fxe6 13 dxe6 0-0 as clearly better for Black (!), but I think this must be wrong. See the game Aleksandrov-Wojkiewicz, Wisla 1992.
My point, I hear you cry, is simply, am I missing something? What would Topalov have done if confronted with this? It would appear to my eyes that 12 Kd2 leads to a simpler (clear) advantage for White than 12 g3. Your thoughts would be most welcome."
A very good point. Why hasn't 12 Kd2 been played more often. What does Veselin Topalov have in store? There is certainly nothing obvious for Black. Just take a look at the aforementioned game Aleksandrov - Wojtkiewicz, Wisla 1992. I'm very open to suggestions on what Black should do here (aside from playing 8...Nfd7).
For our next game in the Modern Benoni section we move on to the relatively peaceful waters of the Fianchetto Variation. In Soppe - Rosito, Buenos Aires 2000, White tries a relatively rare sideline with 12 Ra2!?. This move should not really be too threatening, but Black must play actively. In this game Rosito fails to come up with the correct plan and is soon left with a grim defence.
The final game in our Benoni round-up isn't too important theoretically, but it's still a very smooth positional performance from Black. The only question in the game Roa Alonso-Topalov, Villarrobledo 2000 is whether White could have made life more interesting by grabbing a hot pawn on b7.
Finally, Modern Benoni stats for this month are as follows:
Total games: 43
White wins: 22
Black wins: 12
Black's performance 38%.
We start this month with the trendy 4 a3 Variation and the game Moreno - Emms, Mondariz 2000. Here I played 4 Ba6 5 Qc2 c5 6 d5 exd5 7 cxd5, when the position resembles more a Modern Benoni than a Queen's Indian. Theory gives this variation as slightly better for White, and indeed this is backed up by recent results. However, a novelty as late as move 17 may force this assessment to be altered.
With the game N.Pert -Chandler, London 2000, we stay with 4 a3 Ba6 5 Qc2, but here Black plumps for the more popular line 5 Bb7 6 Nc3 c5. Pert plays an obvious looking but rare tenth move, which has also been played by the Dutch GM Jeroen Piket. Certainly Black has to tread more wearily than he does in this game.
Finally, in the game Gausel - SB. Hansen, Reykjavic 2000, we study one of White's most underrated choices against the Queen's Indian, the so-called Classical Variation with 4 e3. With this unpretentious move White aims to develop "classically" with Bd3 and 0-0. Black has many ways to react and here Black chooses to double fianchetto with an early g7-g6.
Queen's Indian statistics for this month:
White wins: 46
Black wins: 24
Black Score: 41%
A couple of games for you this month. High level, but with with a novel feel about them. Alexei Shirov apparently resurrects his once favourite 4 f3 variation with an interesting but cavemanish idea. Only time will tell whether we will be seeing more of this h4 and Rh3 plan, see JE179.
With such a high rating it was only a matter of time before talented English IM Jonothan Parker achieved his GM title. He has now, but in the same event he also learnt why the white Leningrad bishop is meant for pinning. It's worth taking in his instructive encounter with Joel Lautier, see JE180.
See you next time
Remember, if you have any questions or remarks on the Benoni, Nimzo Indian, Queen's Indian or Bogo-Indian, we'd be glad to here from you. Please e-mail Chris or John at