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This month we take a look at recent Nimzo-Indian, Modern Benoni and Queen’s Indian games, including another outing for Rapport’s favourite 4 g3 Bb7 Queen’s Indian, a solid line that he somehow makes exciting!

Download PGN of March ’17 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Queen’s Indian: 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Bb4+ [E16]

4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Bb4+ 6 Bd2 a5:

Last month we saw Rapport playing 5...Be7 6 0-0 0-0 7 Nc3 Ne4 (against So and Aronian at Wijk aan Zee), but recently he’s also been playing 5...Bb4+ 6 Bd2 a5. This is another solid line for Black, but there’s always life in a position if both sides commit to playing for a win, as they certainly did in the entertaining game Ding Liren - Rapport, R.

Queen’s Indian: 4 a3 c5 [E12]

4 a3 Ba6 5 Qc2 c5 6 d5 exd5 7 cxd5:

This is a position we’ve seen a few times before, and typically Black chooses 7...g6 and a Benoni-type set-up. Instead 7...Bb7 aims to win a pawn in a similar way to the 4 g3 Ba6 5 Qc2 gambit. However, the small difference in the variations (a3 instead of g3) favours White after 8 e4! - see the game Artemiev, V - Petrosyan, M for analysis.

Modern Benoni: 6 Nf3 g6 7 Bf4 a6 [A61]

7 Bf4 a6 8 Nd2!?:

White normally responds to 7...a6 with 8 a4, but 8 Nd2!? remains an effective surprise weapon and an awkward move for Black to face. It’s easy for Black to get into trouble if he doesn’t know his stuff, and still very playable for White even if Black is prepared. See Sargissian, G - Ponomariov, R for an update on this line.

Modern Benoni: Fianchetto Variation: 9...Re8 [A62]

7 g3 Bg7 8 Bg2 0-0 9 0-0 Re8 10 Bf4 Bf5!?:

10...Bf5 is still a fairly new idea, and it’s one we’ve covered before. After 11 Nh4 Black has played 11...Bc8 inviting White to find a better move than 12 Nf3 (see Georgiadis-Bok in the archives). However, in a recent game Black instead came up with the novelty 11...Bg4!?. What is Black’s idea after the obvious response 12 h3 here? Find out in Feller, S - Donchenko, A.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 d5 [E32]

4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 d5 6 e5 Ne4 7 Bd3 c5 8 Nge2:

8 Nge2 normally transposes to the main line after 8...cxd4 9 Nxd4 Nd7, but it has been overtaken in recent years by 8 Nf3 which reduces Black’s options. I didn’t realise until now that one of these options is 8...Nxf2!? See the game Mohammad, N - Yatzenko, A for analysis of this intriguing move.

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

4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 h6 7 Bh4:

In recent years 7...c5 8 dxc5 0-0 9 e3 Be6 has been shown to be a good alternative to the ultra-sharp main line beginning with 8...g5, but it seems that Black has further options. In a recent game Black delayed ...c5 in favour of 7...0-0 8 e3 Be6 which looks like another perfectly reasonable choice. See Lalith, B - Abdusattorov, N for details.

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 Qb3!?:

10 Qb3 more or less forces Black to capture on c3 immediately, something he would otherwise not do. The price White pays for this is a misplaced queen on b3. After 10...Bxc3 11 bxc3, we’ve previously covered 11...Bb7, but 11...Nc6!, as played in the recent game Landa, K - Inarkiev, E, looks like an improvement. Overall 10 Qb3 shouldn’t worry Black theoretically, but it’s not bad as a surprise weapon.

Till next time, John

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