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This month’s update contains recent action and new ideas in the Nimzo-Indian and Queen’s Indian, including an interesting novelty in the 4 a3 Queen’s Indian.

Download PGN of July ’17 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Queen’s Indian: 4 a3 Bb7 [E12]

4 a3 Bb7 5 Nc3 d5:

The 4 g3 line has been all the rage in recent years but there are signs that the Petrosian Variation is making a bit of a comeback, and in this update we cover two recent games in which White was successful.

In Li Chao - Eljanov, P, White played 6 Qc2!?, a move that may transpose to the main line 6 cxd5 Nxd5 7 Qc2. Black does have other options, though, including Eljanov’s 6...dxc4!?. After 7 e4 c5 we reach the following position:

Typically White has chosen either 8 d5 or 8 dxc5 here, but Li Chao unleashed the dangerous novelty 8 Bf4!? and Black was soon in trouble.

The game Kunin, V - Sjugirov, S headed straight down the main line: 6 cxd5 Nxd5 7 Qc2 Be7 8 e4 Nxc3 9 bxc3 0-0 10 Bd3 c5 11 0-0

Theoretically speaking Black may well be okay in this line, but White’s kingside attack can easily become very dangerous so Black needs to be careful. In the game a couple of seemingly minor inaccuracies led to a crushing win for White.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 [E53]

4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 cxd5 exd5 8 dxc5:

Normally in this line it’s Black who breaks the tension in the centre, but in recent years cxd5 has become an option for White that is attracting some attention. However, it’s difficult to believe that this approach can really worry Black. 8...Bg4! may not be the only good option, but it was certainly effective enough for an easy equality in Carlsen, M - So, W..

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 a3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 dxc4 [E49]

4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 a3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 dxc4 8 Bxc4 c5 9 Ne2 Qc7 10 Ba2 b6:

Carlsen has recently preferred 5 Bd3 and 5 Nf3 to his earlier choice of 5 Nge2. This non-forcing line which he recently played against Aronian feels like an ideal choice for him, and he was certainly able to give Black numerous problems to solve, which the Armenian grandmaster was unable to do - see Carlsen, M - Aronian, L for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 d5 [E41]

4 e3 d5 5 Bd3 e5!?:

We’ve seen Black have success before with this Albin-style idea. Barring recaptures on d5, it’s very unusual for Black to move his e-pawn twice in the Nimzo as early as move five! Despite this apparent loss of time, Black seems to be able to develop quickly and create early threats. This is a dangerous line for the unwary, and Becker, M - Mesaros, F added to the collection of quick black wins in this line.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 d5 [E32]

4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 d5 6 e5 Ne4 7 Bd3 c5 8 Nf3 cxd4 9 Nxd4 Nd7 10 Bf4 Qh4:

It seems that 10...Qh4 is overtaking 10...Ndc5 as Black’s main move in this sharp line, and indeed it was Kramnik’s choice in a recent game against Nisipeanu. The main line runs 11 g3 Qh5 12 0-0 and now 12...g5! is a key idea for Black.

The resulting positions are very complicated. Overall Black seems to be doing okay, although in the game there was a possibility for White to gain an edge - see Nisipeanu, L - Kramnik, V for details.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 b6 [E32]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 b6!?:

4...b6 continues to attract attention and has been played many times in 2017. A key line is 5 e4 c5! 6 d5 Qe7 7 Nge2 exd5 8 exd5 d6 9 Bd2 0-0:

Previously we saw that 10 0-0-0 Ng4! is fine for Black (see Bocharov-Tomashevsky, Novosibirsk 2016). More challenging is the pawn sacrifice 10 f3! Ba6 11 0-0-0 Bxc4 12 Ng3 Bxf1 13 Rhxf1 - see the recent game Zahedifar, A - Alavi, H for analysis.

Till next time, John

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