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In this update we'll take a look at some games from recent weeks in the Classical, Rubinstein and Kasparov Variations of the Nimzo-Indian, including two from the recent super-GM tournament in Dortmund.

Feel free to share your ideas and opinions on the Forum (the link above on the right), while subscribers with any questions can email me at

Download PGN of August '11 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 5 e4 [E32]

We'll begin this month's update with what looks like a strong idea for White in the 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 line:

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 d6 6 Bd3 Nc6 7 Nge2 Ba5 8 a3 Bb6 9 e5!

9 e5 is not quite a novelty, but very close. At first sight it looks nonsensical, but L'Ami-Hernandez Carmenates, Barbera del Valles 2011, demonstrates that 9 e5 is actually a very dangerous pawn sacrifice.

Nimzo-Indian: Rubinstein Variation Main Line [E58]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 0-0 Nc6 8 a3 Bxc3 9 bxc3 Qc7:

Black's theoretical standing in this line looks quite healthy to me at the moment. In Nakamura - Ponomariov, Dortmund 2011, the Ukrainian GM answered 10 Bb2 with 10...Re8!? instead of the usual 10...dxc4 11 Bxc4 e5, and after 11 h3 Na5! he soon reached a good position and won smoothly. I've looked for improvements for White in the notes.

Games like Pohjala - Agopov, Jyvaskyla 2011, are a good advert for Black's practical chances in this line, with Black winning quickly. White tried the rare 10 Qe2 and things soon went wrong for him. However, the queen move isn't necessarily to blame for this. I feel that, as long as White follows up accurately, 10 Qe2 isn't a bad choice and might even offer White extra options in some lines.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 b6 [E43]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 f3!?:

5 f3 is a speciality of Vadim Milov's and isn't as harmless as it looks. At first sight it seems inconsistent to play e2-e3 followed straightaway by f2-f3. Does White want to play e4 or not? However, White is only playing f2-f3 as a reaction to Black's ...b6 and ...Bb7 plan. If Black now plays 5...Bb7 there follows 6 e4! and the bishop is hitting a brick wall.

In Ovsejevitsch - Fedorchuk, Ghent 2011, Black chose 5...0-0 6 e4 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 leading to a Sämisch type of position where I feel the absence of a2-a3 helps White a little. Beware: There are many similar positions and variations to compare in this game!

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 Bd3 Bb7 6 Nf3 Ne4 7 0-0:

More often than not Black plays either 7...f5 or 7...Bxc3 8 bxc3 f5, but there's also something to be said about delaying ...f5 for a move or two and choosing 7...Bxc3 8 bxc3 0-0. This move order has the advantage of negating some ideas for White (e.g. d4-d5 in answer to 7...f5 or 8...f5; or 7...f5 8 Ne2). As usual there's a flipside - it also gives White more options. Again are many move order issues to negotiate - see Georgiev - Ikeda, Dieren 2011, for details.

Nimzo-Indian: Kasparov Variation 4 Nf3 c5 5 g3 [E20]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Nf3 c5 5 g3 cxd4 6 Nxd4:

6...Ne4 is still the main alternative to 6...0-0, but I don't think Black has fully solved his problems after the creative gambit 7 Qc2!? (instead of the more popular 7 Qd3) 7...Qa5 8 Bg2! Nxc3 9 0-0!. See David - Battaglini, Paris 2011, for recent developments in this line.

When Kramnik faced the Kasparov Variation in Dortmund, he went down the main line with 6...0-0 7 Bg2 d5. Nakamura chose an old favourite of Kasparov's, 8 Qb3 Bxc3+ 9 bxc3, but didn't come up with anything particularly convincing against the theoretically recommended 9...Nc6! 10 cxd5 Na5!, which had caused Kasparov to give up the line in favour of 8 cxd5. See Nakamura - Kramnik, Dortmund 2011, for details.

Till next time, John

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