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This month we focus entirely on 4 e3 lines in the Nimzo-Indian. With so many different move orders being used these days, I should probably say 'e3' rather than '4 e3'!

Download the April '16 Nimzo and Benoni games in PGN format

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Nimzo-Indian: Dutch Variation [E43]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 Bd3 Bb7 6 Nf3 Ne4 7 00 f5 8 Qc2 Bxc3 9 bxc3 00 10 Nd2 Qh4 11 f3:

A key position for the Dutch Variation. Previously it was thought that Black had two decent options here, but more recent evidence suggests there's only one.

11...Ng5?! was dealt another blow in Tari-Almasi, Caleta 2016, and the future is looking grim for a move that looked appealing before the computer age.

The good news for Black is that 11...Nxd2 12 Bxd2 continues to look fairly solid for Black after either 12...d6 or 12...Nc6, which was Black's choice in Duda-Kovalenko, Tallinn 2016.

Nimzo-Indian: Keres Variation [E43]

4 e3 b6 5 Bd3 Bb7 6 Nf3 00 7 00 c5 8 Na4 cxd4 9 exd4 Re8 10 a3 Bf8!:

The Keres Variation continues to be a solid choice for Black and the above position should appeal to those who enjoy Black's Hedgehog-type set-up. Magnus Carlsen has played this position more than once.

11 Bf4 is rare. In Yu Yangyi-Carlsen, Doha 2015, Carlsen played the novelty 11...Bxf3!? 12 Qxf3 Nc6! When it's awkward for White to deal with the attack on d4.

11 b4 planning Bb2 is much more common. Black normally chooses 11...d6 here, but 11...a5!? is an interesting alternative:

The point is that after 12 b5, the insertion of ...a5 and b5 means that Black is in a more favourable position to play ...d5. Because c4-c5 is less likely to be a possibility against it and White will have to accept a less-than-perfect IQP. See Kenneskog-Blomqvist, Stockholm 2016, for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: Tal Variation [E52]

4 e3 b6 5 Bd3 00 6 Nf3 d5 7 00 Ba6!?:

7...Ba6 is an idea we first looked at in the game Johannessen-Leko, Tromso 2013, and since then a few grandmasters have played it instead of the usual 7...Bb7. Black's aim is the exchange of light-squared bishops after 8 cxd5 exd5 9 Bxa6 Nxa6. This feels like it should be okay for Black, but White came up with a new plan in a recent game which caused Black problems he was unable to solve. See Wojtaszek-Harikrishna, Huai'an 2016, for details.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 [E53]

4 e3 00 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 00 b6!?:

There are a number of move orders to reach this position, including the Tal Variation where Black plays 7...c5 (instead of 7...Bb7 or 7...Ba6) but the move order above has been the most common. By not committing in the centre, Black is trying to remain flexible, but by doing so he allows White the chance to dictate the pawn structure. A typical response is 8 cxd5 exd5 9 a3 Bxc3 10 bxc3:

This actual position has occurred quite a few times, but it's much more often seen with the knight on e2 (the Botvinnik-Capablanca Variation) rather than f3. See Wang Yue-Tomashevsky, Huai'an 2016, for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: Main Line 8 a3 dxc4 9 Bxc4 cxd4 [E57]

4 e3 00 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 00 Nc6 8 a3 dxc4 9 Bxc4 cxd4 10 exd4 Be7 11 Bg5 a6:

Our final game this month is a good example of Anti-IQP play by Black in a line where generally Black's results haven't been good. Black's fianchetto plan of ...a6 and ...b5 (as opposed to just ...b6) takes one extra move but it does give Black active resources such as ...b4 and also supports ...Nc4. See Barbero Senidic-Dominguez Pons, Barcelona 2016.

Till next time, John

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