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This month we look at some new ideas from recent games in the Nimzo-Indian and Modern Benoni

Download PGN of February '15 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo Indian: 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bf4!? [E35]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bf4!?:

6 Bf4 is a very rare move. In the main lines the bishop usually ends up on the h2-b8 diagonal, but only after getting pushed back after ...h6 and ...g5.

It's worthwhile comparing the positions to those after 6 Bg5 h6 7 Bh4 c5 8 dxc5 g5 9 Bg3. In most cases you would feel that Black's lack of kingside weaknesses would benefit him in the 6 Bf4 lines, but there are also one or two differences that favour White. See the game Fodor - Lenderman, London 2014, for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: Botvinnik-Capablanca Variation 14...h5 [E49]

4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 a3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 c5 8 cxd5 exd5 9 Ne2 b6 10 0-0 Ba6 11 f3 Re8 12 Ng3 Bxd3 13 Qxd3 Nc6 14 Bb2:

This line has enjoyed a revival in recent times and this shows no sign of letting up. The key idea for Black here is ...h5. We've already seen 14...c4 15 Qd2 h5! (see the notes to Volkov-Del Rio de Angelis, Vrachati 2011) but in this update we focus on the immediate 14...h5. After 15 Rae1 g6 (to prevent Nf5) we look at two games:

a) 16 e4 is covered in Gagarin - Romanov, Stockholm 2014.

b) 16 Nh1!? is covered in Berkes - Kovacevic, Hungary 2014.

Nimzo-Indian: Karpov Variation 12 Ne5 Bxc3 13 bxc3 Rc8 [E54]

4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 0-0 dxc4 8 Bxc4 cxd4 9 exd4 b6 10 Bg5 Bb7 11 Qe2 Nbd7 12 Ne5 Bxc3 13 bxc3 Rc8:

We recently studied 13...Rc8 (13...Qc7 14 Nxd7 Nxd7 is the most common continuation) when we looked at the game Hawkins-Kramnik, London 2014. Here we're revisiting this line, if nothing else to appreciate quite a beautiful miniature in Szelag - Socko, Rostock 2015.

Modern Benoni: Old Classical Variation 9...Re8 10 Nd2 Nbd7 11 Re1 [A77]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 Nf3 g6 7 Nd2 Nbd7 8 e4 Bg7 9 Be2 0-0 10 0-0 Re8:

White has many options at move 11 in this variation of the Old Classical. Previously we've looked at 11 h3, 11 f4, 11 Qc2, and the main line, 11 a4. In this update we consider yet another option, 11 Re1. After 11...Ne5 12 h3 we look at two possibilities for Black:

a) 12...a6!? is an interesting new idea - it seems that Black isn't afraid of f4 after all! Is this really a good idea? See Ladva - Ezov, Tallinn 2015, for analysis.

b) 12...g5 is the usual choice for Black. See Brown - Rapport, Athens 2012, for a very creative way to play this position as Black.

Modern Benoni: Modern Classical Variation 9 Bd3 Re8 10 0-0 a6 [A70]

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 c4 c5 4 d5 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 Nc3 g6 7 h3 Bg7 8 e4 0-0 9 Bd3 Re8 10 0-0 a6 11 a4 Nbd7 12 Bf4 c4:

Finally this month, a reminder of the maxim "to get squares you have to give squares". 12...c4 is a tempting pawn push because it gives Black some space and the c5-square for the knight. However, as I've learned to my cost before, Black has to be very wary of giving up control of the d4-square. Houska - Heer, Caleta 2015, shows a convincing response by White.

Till next time, John

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