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Hi everyone,
This month I take a look at a few new wrinkles in the Classical Nimzo, as well as an underrated way for Black to meet the Kasparov Variation (4 Nf3). Also John-Paul Wallace provides some detailed coverage of the Anti-Benko Gambit.

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 September '07 Nimzo and Benoni games

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2 d5

We kick off with the game Drozdovskij-Sargissian, Mainz 2007, which begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 Ne4 7 Qc2 c5 8 dxc5 Nc6 9 e3:

If you take games from only 2007, 9 e3 has actually been played more than the main line with 9 cxd5. Perhaps players are realising that:
(a) Black has good practical chances in the main line, and
(b) 9 e3 is not as insipid as it looks.
The game continues 9...Qa5+ 10 Bd2 Nxd2 11 Qxd2 dxc4!?, a pawn sacrifice leading to a long and rather forced line. An endgame is reached where Black's chances of drawing have been considered to be very high, but here White comes up with something new that might well alter that assessment.

Carlsen - Onischuk, Biel 2007, is only a blitz game, but strong GMs often produce important opening ideas even at this time-limit. After 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 dxc4 7 Qxc4 b6 8 Bf4:

Onischuk played 8...Nd5 instead of the previously recommended move 8...Ba6. Check out this game for my thoughts as to why he might have done this.

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2 0-0

After the moves 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 b6 7 Bg5 Bb7 8 e3 d6 Bareev's plan of 9 Ne2, preparing Nc3, continues to be popular. Following 9...Nbd7:

the only question is whether White should move his queen to d3 or c2 - there are pros and cons to both moves. Until recently most players have opted for 10 Qd3, but noticeably a few top GMs have now turned to 10 Qc2, for example in Van Wely-Wells, London 2007.

Nimzo-Indian 4 Nf3 Ne4

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 c4 Bb4+ 4 Nc3 Ne4!?:

I chose this line as an interesting way for Black to play in the book Dangerous Weapons: The Nimzo-Indian. Nearly a year on I was curious to see if there had been any developments, and I was struck by the game Zweschper - Glantz, Dresden 2007, in which Black plays what I believe is a promising gambit: 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 c4 Bb4+ 4 Nc3 Ne4!? 5 Qc2 f5 6 Nd2!? 0-0!

The Anti-Benko Gambit

by John-Paul Wallace

After 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.d5 b5 is an interesting idea:

It is usually employed by frustrated Benko Gambit players who have been cheated out of their favourite opening by White's sneaky move order. It has never found favour amongst the World's elite players, although Tony Miles used it a few times. The problem is, of course, that White will not play c4, but a4 (or Nc3 in order to provoke ...b4) instead, after which he will usually gain the c4 square and this can be enough for a positional advantage. On the other hand, from Black's point of view, he has succeeded in forcing White out of normal, 'boring' d4 theory and the unusual positions that result can provide him with reasonable chances. On the whole, however, I must confess to being a supporter of the White side of this variation, because it seems that Black usually needs to struggle to find counterplay while White can play more easily thanks to his positional assets. In other words, more so than in other openings, I think this is a difficult defence for Black to play. The one time I tried it was against Australian Master Craig Laird and I seemed to gain a horrible position right from the opening, with Craig just playing normal developing moves! Nevertheless, GM Tregubov has been employing it regularly with excellent results, so perhaps it is time to stop philosophising and let the moves do the talking!

We shall only examine the main move, 4.Bg5 which is clearly the correct response. Now Black needs to deal with the possibility of doubled pawns. The key moves for Black now are 4...Ne4, 4...d6 and 4...Qb6, with the latter beginning to take over as the modern main line.

In Vallejo Pons-Vaisser Black tried 4...d6 and now White already came up with an entirely new concept on the very next move! In fact Vallejo Pons had already won a game with this idea already this year, so just click here to find out what he did.

In our next game Vera Gonzalez Quevedo-Duerte Black tried the old main line 4...Ne4 and after 5.Bf4!? (5.Bh4 is also critical) 5...Bb7 6.Qd3 f5 7.Nc3 c4 8.Qd4 the players reached a position known to theory, but here Duerte introduced a new move, although it is true that it may not be an improvement on the old 8...Na6.

Finally we come to the move 4...Qb6 which is GM Tregubov's speciality:

Firstly the 'Dreev recipe' 5.Nc3 was tested in Moradiabadi - Tregubov although after accurate play Black equalised after 5...b4 6.Na4 Qa5 7.b3 d6! However, I have suggested an alternative on the 10th move for White seems to give him good chances for an edge.

Fressinet, on the other hand, came up with the very surprising 5.c4 in Game 8 taking play back into a Benko, the very opening which it would seem he was trying to avoid! The move had never been seen before in GM practice and sure enough White gained a winning game, although in the notes you will see that Black has plenty of opportunities to improve.

Till next time, John