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This month we take a look at some Nimzo-Indian and Modern Benoni games that have caught my attention from recent tournaments, including the Chess Olympiad in Tromso.

Download PGN of August '14 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2 Nc6: Zurich Variation 6 g4 [E33]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 Nc6 5 Nf3 d6:

We start with a new idea and a move which still surprises, even though we've seen it enough by now to get used to it.

By choosing the Zurich Variation, Black was probably hoping for a relatively quiet life in Mamedyarov - Ivanisevic, Tromso 2014. He didn't get it though. Mamedyarov unleashed 6 g4!? and was richly rewarded for his creativity - a winning position after just 12 moves!

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 Mainline 8...Nc6 9 Bd3 [E57]

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 Nc6:

7...dxc4 8 Bxc4 Nc6 is an invitation to the main lines, which White normally accepts with 9 a3 Bxc3 10 bxc3 Qc7. However, White can also play 9 Bd3, after which an IQP position is likely. A typical continuation is 9...cxd4 10 exd4 Be7 11 a3 b6 12 Re1 Bb7 13 Bc2 Rc8 14 Qd3 g6!

Now: a) 15 h4. Matthew Sadler's move looks like a novelty in this actual position, although of course the idea of h4 is well-known. See Sadler - Ortiz Suarez, Tromso 2014.
b) 15 Bh6 Re8 16 Rad1 reaches a typically complex IQP position which looks slightly better for White. See Kislinsky - Froewis, Moscow 2012, for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: Tal Variation 9 b4 [E52]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 b6 7 0-0 Bb7 8 a3 Bd6 9 b4 We've previously looked at a number of games with 9 cxd5 exd5 10 b4, and 9 b4 is White's main alternative. The main line from here runs: 9...dxc4 10 Bxc4 a5 11 b5 Nbd7 12 Bb2 e5

The most popular move here is 13 Re1, preparing e3-e4 and so inducing ...e4 by Black. In Babula - Navara, Pardubice 2014, White played more slowly with 13 h3, but Navara's response was much more than adequate.

Modern Benoni: Fianchetto Variation 9...Re8, 12...Rxf4 sac [A62]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 Nf3 g6 7 g3 Bg7 8 Bg2 0-0 9 0-0 Re8 10 Bf4 Ne4 11 Nxe4 Rxe4 12 Nd2:

This is a key positon for the 9...Re8 10 Bf4 variation. Black must choose between 12...Rb4 and 12...Rxf4. It seems like GMs are beginning to trust 12...Rxf4 more than they previously did, and here we'll look at two recent games with this exchange sacrifice.

13 gxf4 Bxb2 14 Rb1 Bg7 15 e4 Nd7:

and now:
a) 16 Re1 is covered in Ding Liren-Bacrot, Tromso 2014.
b) 16 Qf3 is covered in Kobo - Rausis, Riga 2014.

Modern Benoni: Fianchetto Variation 11 Nd2 Main Line [A64]

Finally this month, a Modern Benoni game of mine from last month's British Championship. 10 Nd2 a6 11 a4 Nbd7 12 Qc2:

12 Qc2 is rare in this position, but certainly not bad. The queen often finds herself on c2 in this line in any case. See Willmoth - Emms, Aberystwyth 2014, for analysis.

Till next time, John

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