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Nimzo and Queen's Indian action this month, including some Grandmaster clashes from the recent FIDE Grand Prix tournament in Beijing.

Download PGN of July '13 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 d6 [E32]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 d6:

5...d6 remains a decent alternative to the main line 5...d5, and certainly some Nimzo players will prefer the type of positions reached after 5...d6. Following 6 a3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 Black has usually played 7...e5, but in this update we'll take a look at a couple of games with 7...c5:

Sometimes the two lines transpose, for example if Black follows up ...c5 with ...e5 (or vice versa), but there are one or two subtle differences in the move orders.

Cabrera - Ortiz Suarez, Barbera del Valles 2013, continued 8 Bd3 Qc7 9 Ne2 b5!. This was Black's sneaky idea behind 8...Qc7 - if White takes on b5 then Black traps the bishop with ...c4! As a consequence Black is assured of immediate counterplay.

The option White has if Black chooses the 7...c5 move order is 8 e5 - see the notes to Wiedermann - Banusz, Austria 2011, for details.

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2 0-0 5 Nf3 c5 [E39]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 Nf3 c5 6 dxc5 Na6 7 g3 Nxc5 8 Bg2 Nce4 9 0-0:

This line isn't supposed to be particularly threatening for Black, but it was recently seen in Mamedyarov - Topalov, Beijing 2013. 9...Nxc3 10 bxc3 Be7 is the prescribed course of action for Black, and it would have been interesting to see just what Mamedyarov had planned against that. Instead Topalov chose the rare 9...Bxc3 and equalised before going wrong later on.

Nimzo-Indian Karpov Variation [E54]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 0-0 cxd4 8 exd4 dxc4 9 Bxc4 b6 10 Bg5 Bb7 11 Ne5:

11 Ne5 is one of the sharpest lines of the Karpov Variation, since Black is more or less forced to accept some kind of concession in return for piece exchanges which would normally ease his position. Black often accepts doubled f-pawns by playing ...Nbd7, either here or after an exchange on c3. In Norri - Gavrilov, Jyvaskyla 2013, Black chose the immediate 11...Nbd7 and was later able to exploit the presence of his dark-squared bishop.

Queen's Indian 4 g3 Ba6 5 b3 [E15]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 b3 Bb4+ 6 Bd2 Be7 7 Nc3:

Topalov did as much as anyone to popularise 7 Nc3 (the main line is 7 Bg2), winning a few high-profile games some years ago. These days Black players are less easily surprised by 7 Nc3 and better prepared, and despite his best efforts Topalov was unable to make any inroads against Leko's solid defence in two recent games - see Topalov - Leko, Beijing 2013.

4 g3 Ba6 5 Qb3 [E15]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Ba6 5 Qb3 Nc6 6 Nbd2 Na5 7 Qc3 c5 8 dxc5 bxc5 9 e4 Bb7:

This line is looking okay for Black. The main continuation here is 10 e5 Ne4 11 Nxe4 Bxe4, where White has chances of a very small edge. Morozevich instead tried 10 Bd3 against Karjakin, but got less than nothing, see Morozevich - Karjakin.

Bogo-Indian 4 Nbd2 0-0 [E11]

Finally this month, a line that is causing Black a few difficulties in the Bogo: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 Bb4+ 4 Nbd2 0-0 5 a3 Be7 6 e4 d5 7 e5 Nfd7 8 Bd3 c5 9 h4!?

This move has actually become more popular than the old main line 9 cxd5, and crushing wins such as Kapnisis - Markidis, Achaia 2013, are only going to encourage more White players to throw their h-pawns up the board!

Till next time, John

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