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This month we look at some new ideas in various lines of the Nimzo-Indian, and also some key improvements in older lines.

Download PGN of August '13 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: 4 f3 c5 [E20]

We begin with a look at one of the sharpest lines in the 4 f3 Nimzo, 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 f3 c5 5 d5 b5 6 e4 0-0 7 e5:

Black has done fairly well after 7...Ne8 here, but in Henrichs - Lalith, Vlissingen 2013, White is successful with a new idea which certainly looks like an improvement over previous games.

I've also taken a look at 7...exd5!? in Paikidze - Kosteniuk, Sochi 2012. This move, a piece sac, was tried as far back as 1993 and was then discarded for 19 years, probably because White won convincingly. But in this game Kosteniuk comes up with a major improvement for Black.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 b6 [E52]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 b6 7 cxd5 exd5 8 0-0:

Black virtually always plays ...Bb7 in this position, and also in the more common one with pawns yet to be exchanged on d5. But in Johannessen - Leko, Tromso 2013, the Hungarian grandmaster was successful with the entirely logical but very rare 8...Ba6!?, forcing the exchange of White's best minor piece. The early signs are that this looks like quite an effective way for Black to play.

Nimzo-Indian Karpov Variation [E54]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 0-0 dxc4 8 Bxc4 cxd4 9 exd4 b6:

Two recent games caught my eye in the Karpov Variation. In the first, Nisipeanu - Krensing, Pardubice 2013, White tried the rare 10 Qb3!?, more or less forcing Black to capture on c3 immediately. This move seems quite challenging, or at least Black has to be a little careful.

In Gulko - Krush, Rockville 2013, Black answered 10 Bg5 Bb7 11 Re1 with 11...h6:

This pawn move is actually rare in this particular position, but overall the idea of a quick ...h6 for Black, especially before committing the bishop on b4, is becoming increasing popular. Gulko's response is very convincing and certainly worth noting because recently Black has been quite successful with the ...h6 plan.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 c5 5 Nge2 [E42]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 c5 5 Nge2 cxd4 6 exd4 d5 7 c5:

7 c5 hasn't been seen a great deal in recent times, with most grandmasters preferring 7 a3. Wells - Arkell, Torquay 2013, went 7...Ne4 8 Bd2 Nxd2 9 Qxd2 b6 10 a3 Bxc3 and here Peter chose 11 Qxc3!? instead of the usual 11 Nxc3. After 11...bxc5 12 dxc5 0-0 13 f4 White wants to plant his knight on d4 and get castled, after which his mobile queenside pawn majority will likely prove to be a decisive positional advantage. The obvious risk in this ambitious approach is White's slow development, and in the game White comes unstuck because of this. Keith's response as Black was very convincing, although I wouldn't completely write this line off for White.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 d6 [E32]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 d6 6 e5 dxe5 7 dxe5 Ng4 8 a3:

Finally this month, a win by David Howell on his way to becoming the 2013 British Champion. Previously after 8 a3 Black has tried both 8...Be7? and 8...Bc5, but in Ward - Howell, Torquay 2013, David shows that the simple 8...Bxc3+ is the safest option for Black. After 9 Qxc3 Nc6 10 Nf3 f6! Black seems to have a full share of the chances.

Till next time, John

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