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This month we look at some new ideas in a variety of Nimzo-Indian lines.

Download PGN of January ’18 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 b6!? [E32]

4 Qc2 b6 5 e4 c5 6 d5 Qe7 7 Nge2:

There continues to be some interest in 4...b6, but I’ve noticed that 7 Nge2 has scored well for White - much better than the main alternative 7 Be2 - and Black is struggling to come up with something completely convincing. The key line is 7...exd5 8 exd5 d6 9 Bd2 0-0 and now 10 f3!:

White spends a move to prevent ...Ng4, even if it means giving up the c4-pawn. Previously Black has grabbed the pawn with 10...Ba6 11 0-0-0 Bxc4, but in a recent game Black tried the novelty 10...Nfd7, See Atalik, S - Horvath, A for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 Nf3 0-0 [E35]

4 Qc2 0-0 5 Nf3 d5 6 cxd5 exd5 7 Bg5 c5 8 e3 h6 9 Bh4:

This position can also be reached by 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 c5 7 Nf3!? 0-0 8 e3 h6 9 Bh4, and indeed this was the move order chosen in Nepomniachtchi, I - Howell, D. We’ve recently seen a couple of Ding Liren games where Black successfully combined ...0-0 with the aggressive ...g5, but in this position 9...g5 appears to be less justified, at least after the typical 10 Bg3 Ne4?!, and Nepo’s response was quite convincing.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Nf3 c5 5 g3 [E20]

After 4 Nf3 c5 5 g3 cxd4 6 Nxd4 0-0 7 Bg2 d5, the main line is still 8 cxd5 Nxd5 9 Qb3, but the immediate 8 Qb3 remains an important alternative:

After 8...Bxc3+ 9 bxc3 e5 10 Nb5 dxc4 11 Qa3! the open lines for the bishops give White decent compensation for the pawn. See Hammer, J - Ostenstad, B.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 b6 [E52]

4 Nf3 b6 5 Bd2!? Bb7 6 e3 0-0 7 Bd3 d5:

A number of top GMs have played an early Bd2 in the Nimzo-Indian, and it’s no longer viewed as toothless. Here we’ve transposed to the Tal Variation, where an early Bd2 and Rc1 is a viable plan for White. After the typical 8 cxd5! (releasing the pawn tension makes sense in the lines with Bd2) 8...exd5 9 0-0 Black played the subtle retreat 9...Be7!? and soon reached a favourable position. Find out how in the notes to Yu Yangyi - Wang Hao.

Nimzo-Indian Main Line: Karpov Variation [E54]

4 e3 c5 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 cxd4 7 exd4 dxc4 8 Bxc4 0-0 9 0-0 b6 10 Bg5 Bb7 11 Rc1 Nc6:

The recent game Repka, C - Levin, E followed a typical IQP course after 12 a3 Be7 (12...Bxc3!? is another option we’ve previously seen) 13 Re1 h6 14 Bf4! Bd6 15 Ne5 Ne7 and now White played 16 Qd2!? lining up a possible Bxh6 sac:

Carlsen tried a similar set-up against Nepo recently. It looks dangerous, and Repka was successful in the game, but Black has enough defensive resources.

Nimzo-Indian Main Line: 7...dxc4 8 Bxc4 Nbd7 [E55]

4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 0-0 dxc4 8 Bxc4 Nbd7 9 Qb3:

Previously we’ve considered White’s two most popular choices, 9 Qe2 and 9 a3. 9 Qb3 has some similarities with 9 Qe2 with the rook ready to come to d1. It also allows White to meet ... cxd4 with Qxb4. See the recent game Babula, V - Ponizil, C for details.

Queen’s Indian: 4 e3 [E14]

4 e3 Bb7 5 Bd3 d5 6 0-0 Bd6 7 b3 0-0 8 Bb2:

The main line here is 8...Nbd7 9 Nc3 a6 (in last month’s update we looked at 9...Re8!? in Li Chao2-Wang Hao/Riyadh 2017).

8...dxc4!? is rare choice. It would be nice for Black if this straightforward approach is a viable one, and it certainly worked out well for Black in Usmanov, V - Grandelius, N.

Till next time, John

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