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This month we're focussing on the Queen's Indian, with some new ideas including a stunning novelty for Black in the Queen's Indian/Nimzo-Indian hybrid line.

Download PGN of December '15 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Queen's Indian/Nimzo Hybrid: 4 Nc3 Bb4 5 Bg5 Bb7 [E13]

We begin the action this month with a very creative novelty as early as move seven in this line: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 Nc3 Bb4 5 Bg5 Bb7 6 Nd2 h6 7 Bh4. Black normally plays one of 7...c5, 7...Bxc3, 7...Be7 and 7...0-0 here (see games in the archives for details) but in Karason - Stefansson, Reykjavik 2015, the Icelandic GM played the astonishing 7...e5!?:

Black plays a kind of delayed Budapest Gambit! He can argue that the loss of time with ...e6 and then ...e5 is counterbalanced by White's Nf3-d2. Even so, it's amazing that ...e5 is possible given that dxe5 will attack a knight that's pinned!

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 Nc3 Bb4 5 Bg5 Bb7 6 Qc2:

This queen move is nowhere near as popular as 6 e3 or 6 Nd2, but it's not entirely harmless. A very logical reaction is 6...c5, but 7 d5! looks like a favourable version of what's becoming a typical gambit for White in the Queen's Indian. See Van der Heijden-Meng, Dutch League 2015, for analysis.

Queen's Indian: 4 g3 Ba6 5 Qc2 c5 6 d5 [E15]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 Qc2 c5 6 d5 exd5 7 cxd5 Bb7 8 Bg2 Nxd5 9 0-0 Nc6 10 Rd1 Be7 11 Qa4 Nf6 12 Nh4:

Peter Leko's games in this popular gambit are always worth following, especially given that he's played this line with both White and Black. In Wojtaszek - Leko, European Teams, Reykjavik 2015, he successfully equalises as Black simply by following what an opponent had previously played against him!

Queen's Indian: 4 g3 Bb7, Kramnik's 7 Re1 [E17]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 0-0 0-0 7 Re1:

Kramnik's favourite 7 Re1 continues to be a challenging try for White in the 4...Bb7 main line. Previously we've looked at 7...Na6, 7...c5 and 7...d6, and here we'll cover two more options for Black:

a) With 7...d5 Black allows a pawn structure which is generally considered to be slightly favourable for White, but at least now Re1 becomes a less relevant move. See the recent game Gelfand - Bacrot, Ashdod 2015, for details.

b) 7...Ne4

This knight move is a rare choice, but noticeably it's been tried by the likes of Tiviakov and Korchnoi, and now also by Tkachiev who shows that Black doesn't have too much to fear in this line. See Jakovenko - Tkachiev, European Teams, Reykjavik 2015.

Queen's Indian: 4 e3 Bb7 5 Bd3 Bb4+ [E14]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 e3 Bb7 5 Bd3 Bb4+:

Black has numerous options against 4 e3. Previously we've looked at 5...d5, 5...c5, 5...Be7 and 5...g6. 5...Bb4 is yet another decent choice. After 6 Nbd2 0-0 7 0-0 d5 we reach a position just like the Tal Variation of the Nimzo-Indian, with the only difference being the knight is on d2 rather than c3:

See how this change affects things in the notes to Shengelia - Harikrishn, Czech Republic 2015.

Bogo-Indian 4 Bd2 a5 5 Nc3 [E11]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 Bb4+ 4 Bd2 a5 5 Nc3:

Strictly speaking this is the Bogo-Indian, but when White plays an early Nc3, as here (it's the main alternative to 5 g3), it feels more like a Nimzo again, with some Queen's Indian thrown in after the logical 5...b6. Following 6 e3 the game normally continues 6...Bb7 7 Bd3 0-0 8 0-0 d6 (or 8...d5). However, in Eljanov - Bacrot, Ashdod 2015, the French GM chose the very rare 6...d5!?:

Even though it's hardly been played in this position, the idea isn't new. Black keeps the option of playing ...Ba6 instead of ...Bb7.

See you in 2016! John

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