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Some more new ideas in the Nimzo-Indian in this month's update, plus a sharp way for Black to meet 4 g3 in the Queen's Indian.

Download PGN of February '13 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 d5 [E36]

We begin with a promising new idea for Black in the 4 Qc2 Nimzo 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 dxc4 7 Qxc4 b6 8 Bf4 0-0!?:

Normally after 8 Bf4 Black offers the c7-pawn with 8...Ba6, or defends it with 8...Nd5, but 8...0-0!? looks like an interesting alternative way to gambit the pawn. See Al Sayed-Georgiev, Gibraltar Masters 2013, for details.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 b6, 7...Ba6 [E32]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 b6 7 Bg5 Ba6 8 Qf3:

This whole line with 7...Ba6 has gone slightly out of fashion, at least among the top players, although I'm not 100% sure why. A recent game caught my eye, if only because White came up with a creative idea which led to Black getting tripled g-pawns! Find out how this happens in Nezad - Dzagnidze, Gibraltar Masters 2013.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d6 [E32]

The 6...d6/7...Nbd7 move order remains quite a popular option, its main merit being that it allows Black to maintain some flexibility over the development of his light-squared bishop, 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d6 7 Bg5 Nbd7 8 e3 b6 9 Ne2 c5 10 Rd1 Qc7:

Typically White plays 11 Qc2 here, planning Nc3, but in Dzagnidze - Georgiev, Gibraltar Masters 2013, White tried the novelty 11 Bf4!? which forces Black to make an immediate decision in the centre.

Nimzo-Indian: Karpov Variation [E54]

In a previous update we saw Leko being the victim of a wonderful played IQP game by Naiditsch in the Karpov Variation. Here Leko gains a measure of revenge against the IQP, albeit against a different opponent. After 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 c5 6 Nf3 d5 7 0-0 cxd4 8 exd4 dxc4 9 Bxc4 b6 10 Bg5 Bb7 11 Rc1:

He begins with the slightly unusual 11...h6 and later carries out a convincing defensive plan which puts the onus on White to come up with something new. See Sokolov - Leko, Wijk aan Zee 2013, for analysis.

Queen's Indian: 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 c5!? [E15]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 c5!?:

This pawn advance previously had a reputation for being a bit dodgy, but in recent times a few grandmasters have been willing to try it, including Vugar Gashimov. Mickey Adams is known for his solid opening choices, so when he is happy to "risk" 5...c5 it's time to sit up and take notice!

White can enter a Hedgehog by just castling, but the critical response is most certainly 6 d5! exd5. Here we look at three recent games:

a) 7 Nh4 g6 8 Nc3 Bg7 9 0-0 d6!? (9...0-0 is more common) 10 Bg5 Qd7! was played in Dzagnidze - Adams, Gibraltar Masters 2013. Playing ...d6 a bit earlier than normal gives Black's queen another option to break the pin.

b) 7 Nh4 g6 8 Nc3 Bg7 9 cxd5 Now we've got a Fianchetto Benoni with two wrinkles:

1) Black has played ...b6 and ...Bb7. While ...b6 is sometimes seen in the Fianchetto Benoni, it's more usually in conjunction with ...Ba6. The bishop isn't best placed on b7, as it hits a brick wall of pawns on d5 and e4 (White will almost certainly play e2-e4).

2) White has moved his knight from f3 to h4, which very rarely happens in the Fianchetto Benoni.

It's difficult to decide who if anyone this imbalance favours, but Vallejo makes a good case for Black's chances in Siebrecht - Vallejo Pons, Bundesliga 2012.

c) 7 cxd5!?. Instead of using the pin on the long diagonal to regain the pawn, either with 7 Nh4 or 7 Ng5, White offers a gambit similar to the popular one after 4...Ba6 5 Qc2. See Sargissian - Socko, Warsaw 2012, for details.

Till next time, John

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