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First of all, please accept my apologies for this late update - it's been a very busy time but I hope to be back to punctuality in June. In this update we study some new Nimzo ideas which caught my eye while following recent super-GM clashes.

Download PGN of May '13 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: Karpov Variation [E54]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 dxc4 7 Bxc4 c5 8 0-0 cxd4 9 exd4 b6:

The Karpov Variation continues to be very popular. Perhaps the reason for this is that many players prefer to establish a pawn structure (here an IQP) as quickly as possible rather than keeping the tension.

In Nisipeanu - Gordon, Legnica 2013, White uses the set-up with Qe2 and Rd1 and we reach a sharp pawn sac line, 10 Qe2 Bb7 11 Rd1 Bxc3 12 bxc3 Qc7 13 Bd3! Qxc3:

Objectively Black is probably okay here, but any slight slip can be fatal, as demonstrated perfectly in this game - although it takes some wonderful play by Nisipeanu to prove so.

In Topalov - Aronian, Sandnes 2013, Aronian chose 11...Nbd7 instead of 11...Bxc3. Black keeps his options over trading on c3, but allows complications following the pawn break 12 d5!?.

Korobov - Lysyj, Legnica 2013, includes an intriguing new idea for Black, 10 Re1 Bb7 11 Bd3 h6!?:

White very often plays Bg5 in the Karpov Variation... so Black decides to prevent it. Natural enough, don't you think? But this move is actually a novelty! I guess that previously everybody thought that it wasn't worth a tempo - and a weakened kingside structure - to prevent the pin. That sounds fair enough, but here Lysyj makes quite a convincing case for its inclusion!

Finally in the Karpov Variation, in Ponomariov - Kamsky, Zug 2013, Kamsky decides to trade quickly on c3, 10 Bg5 Bxc3 11 bxc3 Nbd7 12 Bd3 Bb7:

Obviously this position is playable for Black, but there are probably more negatives than positives in playing ...Bxc3 so early on - see the analysis for details.

Nimzo-Indian Defence: 4 Qc2 d5 [E35]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 c5 7 dxc5 h6 8 Bh4 g5 9 Bg3 Ne4 10 e3 Qa5:

Judging from the evidence of two recent games, White is finding it tough going gaining any meaningful advantage in this line.

In Radjabov - Topalov, Zug 2013, Radjabov went straight down the main line: 11 Nge2 Bf5 12 Be5 0-0 13 Nd4 but Topalov's excellent preparation secured a painless half-point.

In Li Chao-Hou Yifan, Xinghua 2013, White instead chose 11 Rc1, the move which gained Morozevich a clear advantage against Carlsen last year, but Hou Yifan equalised comfortably with 11...Qxa2.

Nimzo-Indian 4 f3 d5 [E27]

Finally this month, here's a new (well, old but forgotten!) way for Black to meet the 4 f3 Variation:

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 f3 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 0-0 (the main line is 6...c5 7 cxd5 Nxd5) 7 cxd5 exd5 8 e3 Nh5!?:

Black's idea with 8...Nh5 is to disrupt White's smooth development and to force some sort of concession. This looks like an interesting alternative to the "Botvinnik-Capablanca" line reached after 8...c5 9 Bd3 b6 10 Ne2 Ba6. See Timofeev - Almasi, Legnica 2013, for analysis.

Till next time, John

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