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This month we look at some Nimzo-Indian games from recent tournaments, including the European Individual Championship.

Download PGN of March '15 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 b6 [E32]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 b6!? 5 e4 c5:

We studied 4...b6!? in the January update, and since then there's been some more action in this line.

One of the critical lines runs 6 d5 Qe7 7 Nge2 exd5 8 exd5:

Previously we looked at 8...d6 and 8...0-0, but in Ivanisevic - Baron, Jerusalem 2015, Black played the interesting novelty 8...b5!?.

Tony Kosten has tried 4...b6 in two recent games, and he's kindly provided annotations to those games in Abello - Kosten, Monte Carlo 2015.

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

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 b6 7 Bg5 Bb7 8 f3 h6 9 Bh4 d5 10 e3 Re8!?:

Back to an old main line, and here we revisit the unusual and tricky 10...Re8 (Black's most popular move is 10...Nbd7). With this rook move, Black challenges White to find a better option than the usual cxd5 exd5, after which the rook will be effective on the half-open e-file. Peter Wells's piece sac is a very interesting idea for Black - see O'Donnell-Wells, Bunratty 2015, for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 c5 [E39]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 c5 5 dxc5 0-0 6 Nf3 Na6 7 a3 Bxc3+ 8 Qxc3 Nxc5:

This line with 7 a3 is meant to be toothless and no threat to Black whatsoever, and Mamedyarov - Ivanchuk, Jurmala 2015, does nothing to change this opinion. After 9 e3 it's worth noting Ivanchuk's choice of ...d6 and ...e5 in favour of the more typical ...b6.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 d5 [E35]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 h6 7 Bh4 c5 8 dxc5 Be6 9 e3 0-0:

This solid approach by Black, whose plan is simply ...Nbd7xc5, is proving to be a very respectable alternative to the ultra-sharp lines beginning with 8...g5. White doesn't seem to be making any headway at all in this line, and results have been fine for Black. See Raznikov - Erdos, Jerusalem 2015, for details.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 b6 [E43]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 Nf3 Ne4 6 Qc2 Bb7 7 Bd3 Bxc3+ 8 bxc3 f5 9 0-0 0-0:

This line always used to be considered the dream scenario for Nimzo players who choose 4...b6, but things have changed a little in recent years. In Bukavshin - Vallejo Pons, Jerusalem 2015, White rejects the usual and safe 10 Nd2 in favour of 10 a4!?. Black's attacking plans with ...Rf6-h6(g6) look frightening for White, but computers aren't so easily scared which is probably why we're seeing more of moves such as 10 a4 and 10 c5.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Nge2 c6 [E46]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Nge2 c6:

We've seen this move a few times already. Black's idea is similar to 5...d5, but 5...c6 makes sure the bishop can retreat and stay on the b8-h2 diagonal, something which it is unable to do in the main line, 5...d5 6 a3 Bd6 7 c5 Be7.

White has some aggressive ways to meet 5...c6, but the modest approach with 6 a3 Ba5 7 Qc2 d5 8 Ng3 is a decent option:

This looks more like a Semi-Slav than a Nimzo, and following 8...Nbd7 9 Be2 e5 10 0-0 dxc4 11 Bxc4 exd4 12 exd4 we get an IQP. See Sadilek - Ganaus, Austria 2015.

Nimzo-Indian: Leningrad 4 Bg5 [E30]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Bg5 c5 5 d5 exd5 6 cxd5 d6 7 e3 Nbd7 8 Bd3 Qa5 9 Nge2 Nxd5 10 0-0:

The Leningrad Variation is unlikely to ever become a very popular choice for White players, not necessarily because of any particular line, but because Black has a choice of numerous options which all seem to be fine for him.

The pawn-grab line is still perfectly playable for Black, but it is sharp and Black needs to know the wrinkles. In Akshat - Abdulla, Chittagong 2015, White comes up with a novelty and Black is unable to find the best response.

Till next time, John

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