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This month's update is a round-up of some recent Nimzo-Indian games that have caught my eye, including all those played at the Candidates tournament. (Will Carlsen-Anand II provide another 4 f3 Nimzo to match the previous one?)

Download PGN of March '14 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: 4 f3 0-0 5 e4 d5 [E20]

We begin with the 4 f3 Nimzo, which is becoming more and more popular at the elite level and was seen twice at the Candidates.

In Mamedyarov - Aronian, Khanty-Mansiysk 2014, Aronian came up with an interesting new idea for Black, 4 f3 0-0 5 e4 d5 6 e5 Nfd7 7 cxd5 exd5 8 a3 Bxc3+ 9 bxc3 f6 10 exf6 Qe8+ 11 Qe2 Qf7!:

11...Qf7 is a creative way for Black to grab the initiative, with Black offering a gambit pawn in order to exploit the open e-file. It looks really dangerous for White, but Mamedyarov came up with an equally impressive solution.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 f3 d5 5 a3 Be7 [E20]

Nakamura - Carlsen, Zurich 2014, followed a line which was recently covered on this site, 4 f3 d5 5 a3 Be7 6 e4 dxe4 7 fxe4 e5 8 d5 Bc5 9 Bg5:

Nakamura chose 9 Bg5 instead of the much more popular 9 Nf3, and managed to get a completely winning position before blundering the game away. Although transpositions are possible, there are one or two subtle differences between 9 Bg5 and 9 Nf3 - see the notes for details.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 f3 c5 5 d5 b5 6 e4 [E20]

Fier - Adams, Caleta 2014, goes headlong into one of the sharpest lines, 4 f3 c5 5 d5 b5 6 e4 0-0 7 e5 Ne8 8 f4 d6 9 Nf3 exd5 10 cxd5 Nc7 11 Bd3 f5 12 0-0 c4 13 Bc2 Bb7 14 Kh1:

Previously here we've seen 14...dxe5, which turned out badly for Black in Henrichs-Lalith, Vlissingen 2013. Adams prefers 14...Nba6 to grabbing the pawn, but soon comes under pressure anyway after my ChessPublishing colleague sacs a piece in a chaotic and topsy-turvy battle.

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

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 Nf3 d5:

Some grandmasters have shown interest in this move recently (as well as the similar line 4...d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 c5 7 dxc5 h6 8 Bh4 0-0!?). It does appear to be a perfectly reasonable alternative to the main line with 5...c5. In Grandelius-L'Ami, Reykjavik 2014, White chooses 6 cxd5 exd5 7 Bf4, instead of the more natural 7 Bg5 or 6 Bg5, but this causes Black no problems whatsoever after 7...c5!.

4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5 7 Nf3 dxc4 8 Qxc4 b6 9 Bg5 Ba6 10 Qa4 Qd7:

No-one is making any impression against the Kramnik Variation at the moment, at least not against Kramnik himself! Kramnik reached this position twice in the Candidates and drew effortlessly on both occasions. See Andreikin - Kramnik, Khanty-Mansiysk 2014, for details.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 b6 [E43]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 Bd3 Bb7 6 Nf3 Ne4 7 0-0 f5:

In this very well-known position White's most popular options are 8 Qc2, 8 d5 and 8 Ne2. One rare option is 8 Bxe4, which forces Black to block the diagonal but at a considerable cost - giving up the light-squared bishop. The notes to Das - Gujrathi, Kolkata 2014, explain why Black doesn't need to fear this move.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 g3 [E20]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 g3:

Finally this month, here's a way for Black to play against 4 g3. White normally tries to reach the Kasparov Variation via the move order 4 Nf3 c5 5 g3. Against the 4 g3 move order Black has options to employ the traditional Nimzo strategy: capturing on c3 and then playing against the doubled c-pawns. 4...0-0 5 Bg2 d6 6 Nf3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 Nbd7 8 0-0 Rb8! preparing ...b6 and ...Bb7 or ...Ba6, is an idea worth checking out - see the notes to Shomoev - Kryvoruchko, Yerevan 2014, for details.

Till next time, John

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