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This month features Nimzo action and ideas from the European Championship, World Team Championship and Norway Chess 2017, including more success for White with Bd2!

Download PGN of June ’17 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 cxd5 exd5 [E48]

4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 cxd5 exd5 7 Nge2 Re8 8 Bd2:

Magnus Carlsen endured a miserable Norway Chess 2017, and for a long while it looked like he would fail even to win one game. Eventually, in the penultimate round against Karjakin, he was finally able to win in an entertaining and tense Nimzo-Indian battle.

Carlsen has previously played 4 e3 0-0 5 Nge2 against the Nimzo-Indian, but here he chooses another line that suits his general approach of avoiding forcing variation and delaying the main battle until later. See Carlsen, M - Karjakin, S for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: Karpov Variation [E54]

4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 c5 6 Nf3 d5 7 0-0 cxd4 8 exd4 dxc4 9 Bxc4 b6 10 Bg5 Bb7 11 Qe2 Bxc3 12 bxc3 Nbd7 13 Rac1 Qc7:

This is an archetypal position for the Karpov Variation. White has the two bishops but Black is very solid and possesses a slightly stronger pawn structure. If White has any ambition of making life even a little bit difficult for Black he must play the key move 14 Nd2! as seen in the recent Ponomariov, R - Macieja, B..

Nimzo-Indian: Tal Variation [E52]

4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 b6 7 0-0 Bb7 8 cxd5 exd5 9 a3 Bd6 10 b4 a6 11 Ne5!?:

Navara was successful with this move in last month’s update, and he has tried it again. Black responded with the novelty 11...Nc6!?. It looks strange for the knight to block the c-pawn, but Black had an interesting and quite effective idea in mind. See Navara, D - Neiksans, A for details.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Nf3 d5 6 Bd2!? [E51]

4 e3 0-0 5 Nf3 d5 6 Bd2!?:

Bd2 lines against the Nimzo are becoming increasingly popular, and they won’t go away when they are continuing to score well! This particular line typically reaches the Tal Variation or something very similar. Fedoseev, V - Gajewski, G continued 6...b6 7 cxd5 exd5 8 Rc1:

The bishop on b4 usually drops back to d6 (after the preparatory ...a6 to prevent Nb5). Gajewski instead chose the less active 8...Be7, but this modest retreat isn’t bad and it does leave Black better prepared to meet Ne5.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 Nc6!? [E51]

4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 Nc6!?:

6...Nc6 is a rare choice for Black and is new to this website. It looks odd to develop the knight on c6 in front of the c-pawn (the second time in this update!), but Black does have a concrete plan in mind: ...dxc4, ...Bd6 and ...e5. In his book on the Nimzo-Indian, Gligoric called this the Taimanov Variation.

The main line runs 7 0-0 dxc4 8 Bxc4 Bd6 9 Bb5, seemingly preventing 9...e5 but Black plays it anyway!

See why this is possible in the notes to Navara, D - Ivanisevic, I..

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 Nge2 Bf5:

This sharp line is seen less often these days, with many playing Black preferring the more solid approach with 8...0-0. Aleksandrov, A - Moiseenko, A continued 12 Bxb8!? (the main line is 12 Be5 but this is another critical try) 12...Rxb8 13 Nd4:

Here Moiseenko played 13...Bg6?!, which has a poor reputation (13...Bd7! is the move). It soon became clear that he had nothing new and had simply been caught out.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 Nf3 [E32]

4 Qc2 0-0 5 Nf3 d5:

5...d5 has become a serious alternative to the well-developed 5...c5 lines, and there are some transpositions to watch out for.

We’ve previously considered both 6 cxd5 exd5 and 6 Bg5, but in a recent game White instead chose 6 a3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3!? (7 Qxc3 is the most popular choice here, transposing to the main line 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5 7 Nf3) 7...c5 8 e3 Nc6:

Now it’s looking more like a 4 e3 Nimzo with an early Qc2 (indeed, 9 Bd3 dxc4 10 Bxc4 Qc7 11 0-0 would be a direct transposition to ECO code E59). Instead 9 cxd5 exd5 10 dxc5! led to a clear advantage for White in the recent game Shankland, S - Ding Liren, but Black does have improvements and should be okay.

Till next time, John

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