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In this month’s update we consider some imaginative ideas for both White and Black in Nimzo-Indian and Queen’s Indian lines, including a completely new idea on move four in the Queen’s Indian!

Download PGN of April ’21 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: 4 Nf3 0-0 [E21]

4 Nf3 0-0 5 Bg5 c5 6 Rc1 cxd4 7 Nxd4:

The main continuation here is the sharp line 7...h6 8 Bh4 d5 9 cxd5 g5 10 Bg3 Qxd5, which we’ve studied on a few occasions. However, in a recent game the Indian GM Vidit Gujrathi unleashed the novelty 7...e5!?, following up with 8 Ndb5 d5!:

This is a remarkably creative idea from Vidit. Given that the pawn reaches e5 in two steps rather than one, it’s difficult to shake off the feeling that it has no right to work. However, it was certainly good enough in its debut game. See Edouard, R - Vidit, S for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd2 b6 6 Nf3 Bb7 7 Bd3 [E43]

4 e3 0-0 5 Bd2 b6 6 Nf3 Bb7 7 Bd3 d6:

7...d6 is a decent alternative if Black wishes to avoid the fixed pawn structure arising in the main line after 7...d5 8 cxd5 exd5. We’ve previously considered 8 Qc2!? which rules out the ...Bxc3 and ...Ne4 plan (see Li Chao-Almasi/Baku 2016). In a recent game, White instead preferred 8 a3, and following 8...Bxc3 9 Bxc3 Black took the opportunity to play 9...Ne4!:

In general, this type of position should be perfectly acceptable for Black. However, as well as providing some exciting attacking play, Grigorian,S - Martinez Alcantara, J is a good demonstration of White’s chances and a reminder that the knight on e4 is sometimes an overrated piece.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Nf3 d5 6 Bd2 b6 7 cxd5 exd5 [E51]

4 e3 0-0 5 Nf3 d5 6 Bd2 b6 7 cxd5 exd5 8 Bd3 Bd6!?:

8...Bd6!? is another little nuance in an increasingly important line. By delaying ...Bb7, Black can use the extra tempo to achieve the ...Bd6/...c5 set-up without having to play ...a6. 9 0-0 Re8 10 Nb5! looks like a critical response, because after the bishop retreats White is able to carry out the usual plan of Ne5 and f2-f4. See Bluebaum, M - Huschenbeth, N for details.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 b6 5 Nge2 [E44]

4 e3 b6 5 Nge2 Ne4 6 Qc2 Bb7 7 a3 Bxc3+ 8 Nxc3 Nxc3 9 Qxc3 d6!?:

9...d6 is a relatively new move-order nuance. Black normally castles first and then follows up with ...d6 and ... Nbd7, but there’s a concrete reason for changing the order. Previously we’ve considered the most popular response 10 b4, which is met by 10...a5!. In the recent game Colonetti, F - Bellahcene, B, the rare 10 d5 was preferred, and answered by 10...0-0:

Here 11 dxe6? fxe6 is completely illogical and handed the advantage over to Black. However, 11 b4! planning Bb2 is critical, and this is analysed in the notes.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 a3 Bxc3+ 5 bxc3 Nc6 [E24]

4 a3 Bxc3+ 5 bxc3 Nc6 6 e3!?:

6 e3 is a reasonable alternative to the main line 6 f3 against the 5...Nc6 move order. White’s plan is to arrange e4 without playing f2-f3. After 6...b6 7 Bd3 Ba6 8 e4, the fact that f2-f3 is missing actually gives White more options, for example 9 e5 Ng8 10 Qg4!.

In Talsma, P - Adair, J, Black countered with the clever 7...Na5 8 e4 Bb7, trying to induce f2-f3.

However, after the unobliging 9 Qe2! a completely new position was reached.

Queen’s Indian, Deac’s Gambit: 4 g4 [E12]

4 g4!?:

I’ve not seen this gambit idea before, and it’s nice to be surprised by such a creation. It looks like yet another modern example of the early g2-g4 attack, which crops up in many different openings. The Romanian Grandmaster Bogdan-Daniel Deac has tried 4 g4 with success in a few online games, including the recent encounter Deac, B - Saric, A.

Queen’s Indian: 4 a3 Bb7 5 Bf4 [E12]

4 a3 Bb7 5 Bf4!?:

Since we initially covered 4 a3 Bb7 5 Bf4!? in a game between Vidit and Navara, there’s been considerable interest at grandmaster level. Previously we’ve considered 5...d5 and 5...c5, but blunting the bishop with 5...d6 is a natural option for Black. This often signals Black’s intention to follow up with a kingside fianchetto, but in Vidit, S - Eljanov, P Black instead preferred 6 Nc3 Ne4 7 Nxe4 Bxe4 transposing to a position which is more likely to occur via the 5 Nc3 Ne4 line, after 6 Nxe4 Bxe4 7 Bf4 d6.

White gained a small edge due to his space advantage after 8 e3 Be7 9 Bd3 Bxd3 10 Qxd3. Keeping the bishop with 9...Bb7!? is a more ambitious way for Black to proceed, and this is also analysed in the notes.

Till next time, John

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