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There’s more Nimzo-Indian action in this month’s update, including two noteworthy ideas for White in the Saemisch Variation, and an intriguing option for Black against 4 e3.

Download PGN of July ’23 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian Saemisch: 4 a3 Bxc3+ 5 bxc3 c5 6 e3 Nc6 [E29]

The Saemisch Variation continues to provide fertile ground for new discoveries, and we’ll look at two new ideas for White in this update.

4 e3 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 c5 7 Bd3 Nc6 8 Ne2 b6 9 e4 Ne8 10 0-0 Ba6 11 Nf4!?:

According to my online database, 11 Nf4 is a completely new move. It’s not even in the top six of Stockfish’s initial choices, which makes it exactly the sort of move that carries useful surprise value.

After 11...cxd4 12 cxd4 Nxd4 13 Bb2, the opening of the position favours the bishop pair and this offers White compensation for the pawn loss. See Gledura, B - Durarbayli, V for analysis.

4 e3 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 c5 7 Bd3 Nc6 8 Rb1!?:

8 Rb1 is yet another idea for White in the Saemisch. It’s interesting to note that, among move which have appeared more than ten times, 8 Rb1 is the highest scoring one for White. Initially there appears to be little point to 8 Rb1, especially as the rook will be blunted after the natural ...b6, but all will be revealed in the notes to Grischuk, A - Karjakin, S.

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

4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 d6 6 e5 Nfd7!?:

A game involving 5...d6 is a welcome break from the main theoretical battleground reached after 5...d5. In the recent encounter Van Foreest, J - Iturrizaga Bonelli,E the Spanish GM kept the tension with 6...Nfd7 (6...dxe5 remains the most popular response). After 7 Nf3 Nc6 8 exd6 cxd6 9 Bd3 e5! is the key idea:

Instead of spending a tempo to safeguard the h7-pawn, Black starts immediate counterplay in the centre.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5 6 Nf3 [E32]

4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5 7 Nf3 dxc4 8 Qxc4 b6 9 Bg5 Ba6 10 Qa4 c5:

This key position has been reached many times. 11 dxc5 is White’s most popular choice, and here 11...bxc5 12 h4!? was covered in Kashlinskaya,A-Zhu,J/Riga 2021. In a recent game White was successful with a similar idea after 11 Rd1 cxd4 12 Nxd4 Qc7? (an unfortunate novelty) 13 Bxf6! gxf6 14 h4!:

White is already doing very well - see the notes to Bu Xiangzhi - Sadhwani, R.

Nimzo-Indian 4 f3 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 [E20]

4 f3 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 c6:

We’ve seen this idea in more than one position. Black’s plan is to recapture on d5 with the c-pawn, keeping two pawns in the centre. If White proceeds quietly, Black’s idea is to increase the pressure on c4 with ...b6 and ...Ba6, to force White to resolve the tension in the centre.

With the 4 f3 move order, White has an extra option with the gambit 7 e4!?. After 7...dxe4 8 fxe4 e5 9 Nf3 play becomes sharp and Black needs to be very careful. See the notes to the recent game Barski, R - Garcia Martin, M for an analysis update on this line.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 Re8 [E47]

4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 Re8!?:

This is a rare move, but noticeably it has been tried by some strong GMs, including Gukesh, Dubov and Artemiev. Initially the rook move seems strange, but if you dig deep enough some merits can be found. For example, after 6 Nf3 d6 7 0-0 Bxc3 8 bxc3 e5 Black finds a logical way to justify 5...Re8. See Van der Stricht, G - Laurent-Paoli, P for details.

Nimzo-Indian 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 a3 [E49]

4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 a3 dxc4!?:

6...dxc4 continues to gain interest and increasingly looks like a legitimate alternative to 6...Bxc3+. 7 Bxh7+ has scored well in practice, but mainly in older games. Recently it’s been discovered that Black has nothing to fear after 7...Nxh7! 8 axb4 Nc6! See the notes to Kozak, A - Matlakov, M for an update on this line.

Till next time, John

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