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Back to the Nimzo-Indian this month, and to some games that have caught my eye this summer.

Download PGN of August ’16 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: 4 Nf3 0-0 5 Bg5 h6 6 Bh4 c5 [E21]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Nf3 0-0 5 Bg5 h6 6 Bh4 c5 7 Rc1:

7 Rc1 is a move we've seen before and it's becoming quite popular at the highest level. Black has so far struggled to find a convincing way to meet it, but even though Black eventually loses, his play in Gelfand - Inarkiev, Magas 2016, is well worth noting.

Nimzo-Indian: Kasparov Variation 4 Nf3 c5 5 g3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Qa5 [E20]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Nf3 c5 5 g3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Qa5:

This is a good option for those playing Black who are looking for a line with a typical Nimzo-Indian approach: give White to doubled c-pawns and then play against that weakness. At the highest level, however, it now seems that Black has problems achieving a fully equal position.

The main line runs 7 Bd2 b6 8 Bg2 Bb7 9 0-0 0-0 10 d5 Qa6:

From this position we'll look at two recent games and one from 2013.

a) 11 Nh4?! allows Black to safely capture on c4, and after 11...Qxc4! Black is already a bit better. See the notes to Torres Rosas - Albornoz Cabrera, Varadero 2016.

b) 11 Re1! looks like the most difficult move for Black to meet. 11...Ne4 and now:

b1) 12 Qb3 was a new and successful idea for White in Edouard - Idani, Bandar-e Anzali 2016.

b2) 12 Qc2 also led to a win for White in Ipatov - Panjwani, St Louis 2013.

Nimzo-Indian: Romanishin Gambit [E36]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 c5:

The Romanishin Gambit doesn't seem to be as common as it was a few years ago, but it is still played by GMs and appears to be in decent shape. It's very possible that many White players are simply avoiding it.

In Machan - Smith, Pardubice 2016, Black wins very quickly by following an old recommendation from the inventor of the opening!

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 cxd4 8 exd4 dxc4 9 Bxc4:

Emms - Eggleston, British Championship 2016, wasn't a happy game for me, as I blew a big advantage in the middlegame. After 10 Qe2 Bb7 11 Rd1 Bxc3 12 bxc3 Black avoided the critical pawn grab 12...Qc7 13 Bd3 Qxc3 in favour of 12...Nbd7, and White is probably a touch better in this line.

Finally this month, in Klimov - Bagheri, Urmia 2016, Black chose to capture on c3 very early: 9...Bxc3 10 bxc3 Qc7:

Exchanging so early on c3 is quite unusual, as it gives White more options. For example, Ba3 comes into play. In the game White offered a gambit with 11 Bd3!?. Black declined, but erred and soon found himself on the end of a decisive attack.

Till next time, John

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