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These days it seems that top GMs are less likely to wait for classical events to unleash new ideas in the opening. This update includes just one classical time limit game - all the rest are rapid and blitz!

Download PGN of July ’18 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: Karpov Variation [E54]

4 e3 0-0 5 Nf3 d5 6 Bd3 c5 7 0-0 dxc4 8 Bxc4 cxd4 9 exd4 b6 10 Bg5 Bb7 11 Rc1 Nc6 12 a3 Be7:

There’s been a couple of recent games in this line, and it seems that ...Nc6 remains a reliable way to meet an early Rc1.

a) Vachier Lagrave, M - So, W actually started as another line: 4 Nf3 0-0 5 Bg5, but an IQP was reached after 5...c5 6 e3 cxd4 7 exd4 h6 8 Bh4 d5 9 Be2 dxc4 10 0-0 Nc6 11 Bxc4 Be7 12 Rc1 b6 13 a3 Bb7 14 Re1, which is also reached after 13 Re1 h6 14 Bh4 from the diagram. Here the typical idea 14...Nh5! was fine for Black, who gained an edge after 15 Bg3 Nxg3 16 hxg3 Bf6 17 d5 Na5!

b) 13 Ba2 Rc8 14 Re1 h6 15 Bh4 Nh5 is similar, but after 16 Bg3 Nxg3 17 hxg3 Bf6 18 d5 the bishop is safe from a ...Na5 attack. Flores, Di - Shankland, S continued 18...exd5 19 Nxd5!:

White sacrifices two pawns for an attack. This is more dangerous than it looks!

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 c5 5 Bd3 Nc6 6 Nge2 [E42]

4 e3 c5 5 Bd3 Nc6 6 Nge2 cxd4 7 exd4 d5 8 0-0 dxc4 9 Bxc4 0-0 reaches a typical IQP position, except with White’s knight on e2 rather than f3:

After 10 a3, 10...Bd6! is more ambitious than 10...Be7 and seems to work quite well against Ne2 IQPs. White would like to pin the knight, but 11 Bg5? runs into 11...Bxh2+!, so in Vachier Lagrave - Ding Liren White avoided this trick with 11 h3. In the game Ding Liren soon got into trouble, but there seems to be a fairly easy way to avoid it.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Nge2 d5 [E46]

4 e3 0-0 5 Nge2 d5 6 a3 Bd6 7 c5 Be7 8 b4 c6 9 Nf4 Nbd7 10 Nd3 b6 11 Be2 a5 12 Bb2 axb4 13 axb4 Ba6 14 0-0 Bc4 15 Qc2 Qc7:

The realisation that this type of position is perfectly okay for Black is one reason why 7 Ng3 has become more popular than 7 c5. White isn’t worse, but Black is ultra-solid and there’s always the possibility of pawn breaks. The recent game Caruana, F - Anand, V does nothing to alter this view.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 h6 [E35]

4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 h6 7 Bh4 c5 8 dxc5 g5 9 Bg3 Ne4 10 e3 Qa5 11 Rc1:

This rook move has overtaken 11 Nge2 as White’s most popular choice here. A critical line runs 11...Nc6 12 Bd3 Nxg3 13 hxg3 d4! 14 exd4 Nxd4 15 Qd1 Bxc5 16 Nf3 Bg4:

In the recent game Vallejo Pons, - So, W White tried 17 Kf1!?, a novelty, although it was previously suggested here! By not castling, White keeps pressure down the h-file. So immediately went astray and landed in big trouble.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5 7 Bg5 [E32]

4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5 7 Bg5 h6 8 Bxf6 Qxf6 9 Nf3 c6 10 h4!?:

Earlier this year at the Candidates tournament, we saw Mamedyarov produce the novelty 10 g3, also against Aronian. Now he comes up with another novelty! White’s plan is pretty direct: g4-g5! See Mamedyarov, S - Aronian, L for analysis.

Till next time, John

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