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This month we check out some ideas for Black in the Karpov, Kasparov, Fischer and Botvinnik-Capablanca variations. Does any other opening have so many world champion variations?

Download PGN of July '14 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: Botvinnik-Capablanca Variation 4 e3 d5 5 a3 [E49]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 0-0 7 cxd5 exd5 8 Bd3 c5 9 Ne2 b6 10 0-0 Ba6 11 f3 Re8 12 Ng3 Bxd3 13 Qxd3 Nc6:

For a long time this line was simply considered better for White, but more recently there's been an acceptance that these positions are fully playable for Black. Eljanov - Bologan, Poikovsky 2014, is a model game from Bologan and serves only to reinforce the new way of thinking.

Nimzo-Indian: Fischer Variation 4 e3 b6 5 Nge2 Ba6 [E45]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 Nge2 Ba6:

Van der Stricht-Fridman, Rosmalen 2014, is more than anything else just a very nice Nimzo game by Black, who uses the h-pawn disruptor 6 Ng3 h5!? followed by some creative light-square strategy.

6 a3 Be7 7 Nf4 d5 8 cxd5 Bxf1 9 dxe6!? Ba6 10 exf7+ Kxf7 11 e4 remains a critical variation in this line. White gives up a piece in return for two pawns and an exposed black king:

Black has suffered in games after 11...c5 12 e5 (see, for example, Aronian-Medvegy in the archives). However, 11...Bc4! is a much better option for Black. See Haugli - Istratescu, Dieppe 2013, for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: Karpov Variation 9...h6!? [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 h6!?:

Recently we've seen quite a bit of ...h6 (for example in Agdestein-Kramnik, Stavanger 2014, June update). Here we see the ...h6 idea taken to the extreme (or maybe its logical conclusion?). By playing it on move nine Black does of course prevent 9...b6 10 Bg5, which is still White's most popular choice in the Karpov Variation. Check out two recent games in Loiseau - Gharamian, Paris 2014, and Wang - Holt, Arlington 2014.

Nimzo-Indian: Kasparov Variation 4 Nf3 c5 5 g3, 11...Rb8!? [E20]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Nf3 c5 5 g3 cxd4 6 Nxd4 0-0 7 Bg2 d5 8 cxd5 Nxd5 9 Qb3 Nc6 10 Nxc6 bxc6 11 0-0 Rb8!?:

Previously 11...Rb8 was seen as inferior to Black's main choice, 11...Qa5. However, in recent times a number of GMs have been willing to play 11...Rb8 and have demonstrated that with careful play Black has excellent equalising chances. Edouard - Wojtaszek, Saint-Quentin 2014, is one such case, with Wojtaszek converting to the dark side after getting nothing as White four years earlier - see Wojtaszek - Mista, Czechia 2010.

Till next time, John

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