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In this month's update we take a look at some ideas and novelties in a number of Nimzo-Indian variations: Reshevsky, Keres, Karpov, Kasparov, Zurich and 4 f3.

Download PGN of January '13 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: Reshevsky Variation [E46]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Nge2 d5 6 a3 Bd6 7 Ng3:

7 Ng3 is White's main alternative to 7 c5; it's certainly a logical choice for players who prefer open positions to the closed ones typically reached after the pawn push. Black basically has a choice of two strategies here:

1) Play ...c6 and prepare the ...e5 pawn break; or

2) Play the pawn break ...c5.

In Ivanisevic - Grandelius, Al-Ain 2012, Grandelius chooses the first option with 7...c6, but Ivanisevic cuts across Black's plans with 8 e4!?. This pawn advance feels logical - it certainly utilises the knight's position on g3. Grandelius's response, however, does look quite convincing.

In Sadilek - Horvath, Aschach 2012, Black instead chooses 7...c5, and following 8 dxc5 Bxc5 9 b4 Be7 10 cxd5 exd5 the IQP position is typical in all aspects except that White's knight is on g3 rather than f3.

Nimzo-Indian: Keres Variation [E43]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Nf3 b6 5 e3 Bb7 6 Bd3 0-0 7 0-0 c5:

Black succeeds with a surprising novelty and plan in the game Hammer - Amanov, Las Vegas 2012: 8 Qe2 Bxc3 9 bxc3 Bxf3!?. It's quite rare to see this bishop-for-knight exchange, and rarer still when White can recapture with the queen.

Nimzo-Indian: Karpov Variation [E54]

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 Qe2 Bb7 11 Bg5:

Yang - Kiewra, Los Angeles 2012, provides a good example of what can go wrong for Black if doesn't handle the IQP position arising from the Karpov Variation with care. 11...h6, though unusual, is probably okay, but after 12 Bh4 Kiewra's novelty 12...Re8 followed by 13...Be7 looks unconvincing and Black was soon facing a decisive attack.

Nimzo Indian: Zurich Variation [E33]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 Nc6 5 Nf3 d6 6 Bd2 0-0 7 a3 Bxc3 8 Bxc3:

Normally here Black chooses to prepare ...e5 with either ...Qe7 or ...Re8, and there are merits and drawbacks to both options. In Jones - Panjwani, Hastings 2012, Black decided to play both moves: 8...Re8 9 e3 Qe7, but mixing ...Qe7 and ... Re8 doesn't feel right and White has more than one way to keep an edge here.

Nimzo Indian: 4 f3 [E20]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 f3 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3:

6...c5 remains the main line and Black's most popular choice, but 6...c6 is an interesting alternative. Black wants to recapture on d5 with the c-pawn, keeping two pawns in the centre. If White proceeds quietly, Black's plan is to increase the pressure on c4 with ...b6 and ...Ba6, to force White to resolve the tension in the centre. White's most violent response to this plan is the gambit 7 e4!? - see Jakovljevic - Kurajica, Zadar 2012, for details.

Nimzo Indian: Kasparov Variation [E20]

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

5...Bxc3+ followed by 6...Qa5 is just one of many options for Black against the Kasparov Variation. In fact, those who play the Kasparov Variation must have quite a hard time keeping up with all the ways Black has of meeting it. White normally protects the c3-pawn here with either 7 Bd2 or 7 Qd3, but in Martinovic - Predojevic, Zadar 2012, White chose to give up his c-pawns with 7 Bg2!? and this rare gambit looks quite promising.

Happy New Year to everyone! John

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