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This month we're back on the Nimzo-Indian, with some interesting games in the 4 Qc2, 4 e3 and 4 f3 lines.

Download PGN of May '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!?:

The provocative 4...b6!? is a move we've seen quite a bit of recently, and it doesn't look like it's going away in a hurry. The critical response, as we've seen, is 5 e4, but for those not intent on punishing Black, 5 a3 is the most likely choice. White is aiming to get back into the main lines. The problem is that after 5...Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 White might not be granted his wish, since Black isn't obliged to castle anytime soon. Abdelnabbi - Fedoseev, Dubai 2015, is a recent example where Black successfully steers the game into unfamiliar territory.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 c5 5 dxc5 0-0 6 Nf3 [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:

The absolute main line won't appeal to everyone playing Black, mainly because of its forcing nature. White is getting a small endgame edge in some lines, and the initiative in return for a pawn in others. In the recent game Black grabbed a pawn after 14...Bd6 15 Re1 Nd7 16 Bf4 Bxe5 17 Bxe5 Nxe5 18 Qxe5 Qxc4!? and managed to equalise with some accurate defence. See Bulski - Jakubowski, Prague 2015, for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 c5 5 dxc5 0-0 6 a3 [E39]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 c5 5 dxc5 0-0 6 a3 Bxc5 7 Nf3 b6 8 Bf4 Bb7 9 Rd1:

9...Nc6 is Black's most popular choice in this position from the Macieja Variation, but another perfectly viable move for Black is 9...Nh5!?. One of White's options in reply is 10 Bc1, getting the bishop out of harm's way. Against this Black can try 10...Nf6 (challenging White to find a better move than 11 Bf4) or 10...f5. See Sarkar - Hamitevici, Reykjavik 2015, for analysis and an amazing king walk!

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 a3 [E53]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 a3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 dxc4 8 Bxc4 c5 9 Nf3 Qc7 10 Ba2:

In this mainline position, Black normally plays 10...b6 or 10...Nbd7 followed by ...b6 (there's also the option of 10...Nc6 11 0-0 transposing to the old main line). In Savchenko - Predke, Moscow 2015, Predke instead chose the rare but very interesting 10...b5!?. If White carries on as normal, Black's extra space on the queenside given by ...b5 could prove to be very useful for Black.

Nimzo-Indian: Karpov Variation [E54]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 0-0 dxc4 8 Bxc4 cxd4 9 exd4 b6 10 Qe2 Bb7 11 Bg5 Nbd7 12 Rac1!:

If Black delays capturing on c3 in the Karpov Variation, then Rc1! by White can be awkward to meet. For sure, Black is okay with careful play, but he can no longer rely on the automatic ...Bxc3, bxc3, ...Qc7 plan because White is able to recapture on c3 with the rook. See Bisby - Gao Rui, Reykjavik 2015, for details.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 f3 c5 [E20]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 f3 c5 5 d5 d6 6 e4 0-0:

To me this looks like a perfectly decent way for Black to meet 4 f3, especially for those happy to play with the Nimzo/Benoni structure. Previously we've seen that 7 Nge2 can be met by 7...b5!? (see the notes to Timofeev-Topalov, Eilat 2012). In the recent game White chose 7 Bd3, which allows him to meet 7...b5 with 8 Nge2. However, 7...Nbd7! followed by ...Ne5 looks like an effective response by Black. See Mamedyarov - Grigoriants, Moscow 2015, for analysis.

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

Finally this month, a strong improvement for White from the game Stopa-Anand, London 2014, which we analysed in the December update:

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 f3 d5 5 a3 Be7 6 e4 dxe4 7 fxe4 e5 8 d5 Bc5 9 Bg5 h6 10 Bh4 Bd4 11 Nb5 Bxb2 12 Rb1 a6 13 Bxf6 gxf6 14 Nxc7+ Qxc7 15 Rxb2 Nd7 16 Qf3 b5:

This was all played in Stopa-Anand at the London Classic. In a more recent game, Stopa reached the same position again, but here he improved on 17 Rc2 with 17 Nh3! and soon reached a very good positon. See Stopa - Soors, Reykjavik 2015, for details.

Till next time, John

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