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This month's update contains a bit of a mix of lines - basically some recent Nimzo-Indian games which have particularly caught my eye. In addition, Chris Ward annotates another of his recent games, again in the Nimzo/Queen's Indian Hybrid!

Download PGN of May '14 Nimzo and Benoni games

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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 g3 Nxc5 8 Bg2 Nce4 9 0-0 Nxc3 10 bxc3 Be7 11 e4 d6 12 e5 dxe5 13 Nxe5 Qc7 14 Qe2:

This line is not quite as harmless as it was once believed to be, with Black not appearing to have an obvious route to clean equality. 14...Nd7 15 Bf4 Nxe5 16 Bxe5 Bd6 17 Rfe1! keeps a very small edge for White, as we've seen previously in Dreev-Azarov, Tromso 2013. In Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son-Vaibhav, Sharjah 2014, Black opted for the alternative, 14...Bd6 15 Bf4 Ne8 but the pawn sac 16 c5! definitely gives White compensation.

Nimzo-Indian 4 Bg5 Leningrad 7...Qe7 [E30]

4 Bg5 c5 5 d5 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 d6 7 e3 Qe7:

This is a tricky move order for Black, and one which I suggested in Easy Guide to the Nimzo-Indian. By playing ...Qe7 and also delaying ...h6, Black brings into play the option of ...exd5 followed by ...Qe5. Batchimeg - Hou Yifan, Khanty-Mansiysk 2014, went 8 Bd3 Nbd7 9 Nf3 h6 10 Bh4 and now 10...Nb6! looks like the way to justify an early ...Qe7/...Nbd7 combo. Hou Yifan's subsequent play looks very convincing, even if White's play wasn't the best.

Nimzo-Indian: Tal Variation [E52]

4 Nf3 b6 5 e3 Bb7 6 Bd3 0-0 7 0-0 d5 8 cxd5 exd5:

The most popular plan for White in the Tal Variation is definitely 9 a3 Bd6 10 b4 a6 11 Qb3 followed by b4-b5, as we've seen before on this site. In Eljanov - Wang Hao, Vugar Gashimov Memorial, Shamkir 2014, White chooses a radically different plan: 9 Qc2 a6 10 a3 Bd6 11 e4!?. This gives Black different problems to solve, but Wang Hao was up to the task.

4 Bd2 d5 5 e3 0-0 6 Nf3 b6 7 Be2 Bb7 8 0-0:

This isn't quite the Tal Variation; it's an innocuous version with White's bishops more passively placed than usual. I say "innocuous", but this isn't quite the whole story because Black's most popular choice in this position is actually a blunder! Can you see what it is, and why it's a blunder? Find out in Ivanisevic - Farago, Deizisau 2014.

Nimzo-Indian: Hübner Variation [E41]

Last month we looked at the Hübner Variation via the 4...0-0 move order. The recent game Piorun - Laznicka, Deizisau 2014, is a timely reminder of how effective the Hübner Variation can be via the traditional move order, 4 e3 c5 5 Bd3 Nc6 6 Nf3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 d6 8 e4 e5 9 d5 Ne7 10 Nh4 h6!:

By delaying castling, Black can play ...g5 without having to worry about weakening his king's position.

Nimzo-Indian: Dutch Variation [E43]

4 Nf3 b6 5 e3 Bb7 6 Bd3 Ne4 7 0-0 f5:

In this mainline position we've seen White try a number of moves: 8 Qc2, 8 Ne2, 8 d5 and recently 8 Bxe4. Yet another option is 8 Ne5 - see Debashis - Amin, Dubai 2014, for analysis.

Nimzo/Queen's Indian Hybrid: Milov Gambit 8 d5 [E13]

4 Nf3 b6 5 Bg5 Bb7 6 Nd2 h6 7 Bh4 c5 8 d5!?:

See Chris's annotations to Ward - Coles, London League 2014.

Till next time, John

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