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This month’s update includes Nimzo and Queen’s Indian action from the recent European Championship and Norway Super-GM tournament.

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

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Nimzo-Indian: Botvinnik-Capablanca Variation [E49]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0–0 5 Bd3 d5 6 a3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 c5 8 cxd5 exd5 9 Ne2 b6 10 0–0 Ba6 11 f3 Re8 12 Ng3 Bxd3 13 Qxd3 Nc6 14 Bb2 h5:

This line has gained some popularity, with many Black players now actively seeking to play it, or at least not avoiding it. The ...h5-h4 plan is one of the reasons for its revival, but in a recent game White gave Black problems with the OTB novelty 15 e4!. See Navara-Sturua, Gjakova 2016, for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: Keres Variation 8 Na4 [E43]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 Bd3 Bb7 6 Nf3 0–0 7 0–0 c5 8 Na4 cxd4:

The Keres Variation continues to attract attention at the highest level, with Levon Aronian recently adding his name to the list of top players who have used the Keres Variation as Black.

After 9 a3 Bd6 10 exd4, Black has usually played 10...Bxf3 11 Qxf3 Nc6 (as in Parker-Wells, Sunningdale 2009). But in Harikrishna-Aronian, Stavanger 2016, Aronian demonstrates that 10...Nc6 is just as playable.

The other main line here is 9 exd4 Re8 10 a3 Bf8, which we covered last month with two wins for Black:

To provide some balance, the recent game Wojtaszek-Tomczak, Poznan 2016, demonstrates model play by White in this line. Wojtaszek’s plan is very strong and definitely worth repeating.

Nimzo-Indian: Rubinstein 7 cxd5 [E53]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0–0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 cxd5!?:

This unusual move has been played recently by both So and Harikrishna. White’s idea is pretty basic: swap two sets of pawns and give Black an IQP! It’s certainly not life-threatening for Black, but as always some care is required when dealing with a fresh idea.

a) 7...cxd4 8 exd4 Nxd5. Is this a transposition into the Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack? Not quite! With this move order White doesn’t have to defend c3 with Bd2 or Qc2: 9 0–0!

This gives White some extra options and isn’t easy for Black to deal with. See So-Nakamura, Ultimate Blitz Challenge, Saint Louis 2016, for analysis.

b) 7...exd5 8 dxc5:

Here Black can of course play 8...Bxc5, but in the recent game Harikrishna-Topalov, Stavanger 2016, Topalov chose the equally logical 8...Nbd7!? intending ...Nxc5.

Queen's Indian: 4 g3 Bb7, 7 Re1 [E17]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 0–0 0–0 7 Re1:

Kramnik's favourite 7 Re1 is a good option for players who don't want to gambit with 7 d5 but are looking for something a little more complex than 7 Nc3 Ne4.

7...Na6 8 Ne5 Bxg2 9 Kxg2 c5! 10 d5 Qc7 continues to be a decent option for Black, especially for those happy to play Benoni-type positions.

11 Nf3 Ne4! has worked well for Black, and Khismatullin-Inarkiev, Gjakova 2016, is another recent example of a success for Black in this line.

At the final 4NCL weekend, I decided to give this line a go as Black, only to be surprised by the novelty 11 Nd3!?, an imaginative pawn sac to gain control of the d5-square. See the analysis in Williams-Emms, 4NCL 2016.

Till next time, John

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