ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
There’s a mixture of openings this month, as we look through Nimzo-Indian, Queen’s Indian and Modern Benoni games from recent events, including the Opera Euro Rapid won by Wesley So.

Download PGN of February ’21 Nimzo and Benoni games

>> Previous Update >>

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd2 d5 6 Nf3 b6 7 cxd5 exd5 [E52]

4 e3 0-0 5 Bd2 d5 6 Nf3 b6 7 cxd5 exd5 8 Rc1 Bb7 9 Bd3:

Support for the Bd2 set-up is continuing to gather momentum, and it was seen again at the recent Opera Euro Rapid event. Vidit, S - Dominguez Perez, L is another strong advert for the line, with Black having problems despite seemingly doing all the right things. Dominguez Perez chose 9...Re8, and the game continued logically with 10 0-0 Bf8 11 Ne5 c5 12 f4 Nc6:

With 13 Ne2!, Vidit was able to maintain his powerful knight on e5. It’s true that the knight retreat allows Black’s knight to enter e4, but Vidit demonstrates that this doesn’t have to be a major inconvenience for White.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 f3 c5 [E20]

4 f3 c5 5 d5 0-0 6 e4 b5:

In recent times there’s been much interest in the line 5...b5 6 e4 d6 (or 5...d6 6 e4 b5), which avoids the sharp e4-e5 option. In a game between Teimour Radjabov and Wesley So, also from the Opera Euro Rapid, So decided to allow e5 by choosing 5...0-0 6 e4 b5. Radjabov, however, declined the invitation and instead played 7 Nh3!?. After 7...bxc4 8 Bxc4 Nxd5 9 Bxd5 exd5 10 Qxd5 a typical position is reached:

So played 10...Nc6, soon gained a clear advantage and won comfortably. However, analysis demonstrates that there are key improvements for both sides. See Radjabov, T - So, W for details.

Nimzo-Indian, Saemisch: 4 a3 Bxc3+ 5 bxc3 c5 6 e3 0-0 [E29]

4 a3 Bxc3+ 5 bxc3 c5 6 e3 0-0 7 Bd3 Nc6 8 Ne2 b6 9 0-0 Ba6 10 e4 d6?!:

Every now and again in the Saemisch, someone will try to get away without playing the well-known prophylactic idea 10...Ne8 (or 9 e4 Ne8). Ezat, M - Jakubowski, K is a model example of what White should do when this happens.

Queen’s Indian: 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Bb4+ [E16]

4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Bb4+ 6 Bd2 c5:

It’s rare for Carlsen to play the Queen’s Indian as Black (he generally prefers the QGD after 3 Nf3), but it’s interesting to see which lines the World Champion chooses when he does. Against Daniil Dubov, Carlsen avoided more solid options in favour of a line which aims for some strategical imbalance. The game continued 7 Bxb4 cxb4 8 0-0 0-0 9 Nbd2 a5 10 Re1 d6 11 e4:

Here Carlsen chose 11...Nfd7?!, preparing ...e5 followed by ...Nc6. Dubov’s response, however, looks convincing. See Dubov, D - Carlsen, M for analysis of this and alternatives.

Queen’s Indian: 4 a3 Bb7 [E12]

4 a3 Bb7 5 Bf4!?:

This rare line has gained some interest at grandmaster level recently, and we’ve already seen it work well in Vidit,S-Navara,D/Prague 2020. In effect, White is playing a Bf4 Queen’s Indian but without allowing ...Bb4+. 5...d5 6 cxd5! Nxd5 7 Bg3 intending e4 is White’s main idea, as played in Vidit-Navara, and this looks quite promising for White.

Sam Shankland tried 5 Bf4 against Ding Liren at the Opera Euro Rapid. Ding responded with 5...c5 6 Nc3 cxd4 7 Qxd4 Nc6 8 Qd3 Nh5!?:

which looks like a decent option for Black - see Shankland, S - Ding Liren.

Modern Benoni: 6 Nf3 g6 7 Nd2 Nbd7 8 e4 Bg7 9 Be2 0-0 10 a4 Re8 [A77]

6 Nf3 g6 7 Nd2 Nbd7 8 e4 Bg7 9 Be2 0-0 10 a4 Re8 11 0-0 Ne5:

In this key position from the Classical Variation, 12 Qc2 is White’s main choice, and we’ve also previously considered 12 Ra3 and 12 Re1. However, in a recent game against Leela Zero, Stockfish chose 12 Ndb1!?. The Ng1-f3-d2-b1 manoeuvre certainly creates a strange impression. However, there is a concrete idea behind it. White prepares to kick away the e5-knight with f2-f4 and prevents Black from securing the knight’s post with ...g5. Although 12 Ndb1 is rare, it has been played by a few GMs including the noted theoretician Alexey Dreev. On the evidence of Stockfish - LCZero, 12 Ndb1 certainly could be added to the list of options for White.

Modern Benoni: 6 Nf3 g6 7 Nd2 Bg7 8 e4 0-0 9 Be2 Na6 [A73]

6 Nf3 g6 7 Nd2 Bg7 8 e4 0-0 9 Be2 Na6 10 0-0 Nc7 11 a4 b6 12 Re1!?:

The main line is 12 Nc4 Ba6, but 12 Re1 is another good option for White and it scores well. Black has to be careful here. After the natural 12...Rb8 13 h3 Re8?! White responds with 14 Bb5!. I remember being caught out by this idea when facing the Dutch Grandmaster Peng Zhaoqin, and it’s extremely awkward for Black to meet. See Yanayt, E - Sevian, S for analysis.

Till next time, John

>> Previous Update >>

Feel free to share your ideas and opinions on the Forum (the link above on the right), while subscribers with any questions can email me at