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This month’s update includes coverage of a new approach for Black in one of the main lines of the Nimzo-Indian.

Download PGN of March ’18 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian, Reshevsky Variation 4 e3 0-0 5 Nge2 Re8 [E46]

4 e3 0-0 5 Nge2 Re8!? 6 a3 Bf8:

5...Re8 against the Reshevsky Variation is an interesting idea that’s found numerous followers in recent times, so it’s certainly due some belated coverage on this site.

If Black is going to keep the bishop, f8 is a good square for it regardless of the pawn structure Black chooses in the centre, and White doesn’t have the opportunity to gain time on this bishop as he does after 5...d5 6 a3 Bd6 7 c5. The flipside is that Black’s failure to occupy the centre with the immediate 5...d5 does give White more central choices than normal.

In this update we’ll consider some of White’ most popular choices:

a) 7 e4 takes the opportunity to occupy the centre. The critical response by Black is 7...d5! 8 e5 Nfd7 9 cxd5 exd5 10 f4:

with very sharp play - see the analysis in Zelesco, K - Papin, V.

b) 7 d5 is another move White is able to play because of the delay in ...d5. The d5 advance is often quite effective in similar positions (for example, 5... b6 6 a3 Be7 7 d5), but here Black seems to be well equipped to face it. 7...a5!, intending ...Na6-c5, isn’t the only option for Black, but it does look like a logical way to exploit the downside of White’s d-pawn push.

See Cosman, A - Doluhanova, E for details.

c) 7 Ng3 is a sensible move and has been White’s most popular choice. After 7...d5 8 Be2, again Black has more than one way to proceed. In Gupta, A - Duda, J, the young Polish Grandmaster chose 8...b6!?:

This strikes me as a clever choice. White’s natural response to ...b6 lines is to exchange on d5, but this helps to justify Black’s ...Re8/...Bf8 plan.

d) White’s other knight move, 7 Nf4, may also be met by 7...d5, but Carlsen demonstrated the flexibility of the 5...Re8/6...Bf8 plan by choosing 7...d6!?:

This pawn move makes a lot sense when the white knight is on f4, as Black gains time when playing ...e5. So far 7...d6 has scored incredibly well for Black. See Tran Tuan Minh - Carlsen, M for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 b6 [E32]

4 Qc2 b6 5 e4 c5 6 d5 Qe7 7 Be2 exd5 8 exd5:

The tricky 4...b6!? continues to gain attention. In the above position Black can play it safe with 8...d6 or 8...0-0, or try 8...Qe4!?. Many thanks go to Grandmaster Bogdan Lalic, for sharing his analysis of the game Bourgois, B - Lalic, B.

Modern Benoni: 6 e4 g6 7 Nge2

Next up, another game with 6 e4 g6 7 Nge2 Bg7 8 Ng3 0-0 9 Be2:

In last month’s update we examined 9...Na6 10 0-0 Nc7, but Black’s most popular choice is the set-up with 9...a6 10 a4 Nbd7. Many thanks to fellow ChessPublishing contributor Chris Ward for annotating his recent London League game in this line. See his notes to Ward, C - O’Shaughnessy, C.

Queen’s Indian: 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 0-0 0-0 7 Re1 [E17]

4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 0-0 0-0 7 Re1:

Kramnik’s 7 Re1 continues to be a popular alternative to 7 Nc3. We’ve previously considered many responses by Black, but 7...a5!? is new to this website. 7...a5 has been played on numerous occasions, and we’ve seen the idea of this seemingly unprovoked pawn advance in similar positions. See the notes to the recent game Nakamura, H - Rapport, R.

Although we’ve examined 7...Na6 before, 8 a3!? is another move that’s new to this site:

8 a3 is a subtle move which prevents anything coming to b4, avoids immediate exchanges and waits to see how Black commits. See Ladva, O - Haug, J for details.

Till next time, John

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