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In this update we look at some new wrinkles in the Tal Variation, and some dangerous d5 lines in the Nimzo and Queen’s Indian.

Download PGN of May ’17 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: Tal Variation: 4 e3 b6 5 Bd3 Bb7 6 Nf3 0-0 7 0-0 d5 [E52]

4 e3 b6 5 Bd3 Bb7 6 Nf3 0-0 7 0-0 d5 8 cxd5 exd5 9 a3 Bd6 10 b4:

The Tal Variation continues to be popular, and recently there has been a couple of interesting developments.

Mamedyarov, S - Adams, M continued 10...Nbd7 11 Qb3 a6 12 a4 Qe7! 13 Rb1 and here Mickey played 13...c6!? (instead of the more common 13...Re8).

We previously saw this unusual-looking pawn move, prophylaxis against b4-b5, in a similar position in the game Michalik-Navara. Mamedyarov responded with 14 a5 and ended up winning convincingly, but that certainly doesn’t mean 13...c6 is bad and in the notes we look at possible improvements for Black after 14 a5.

10...a6 11 Qb3 Qe7 12 Rb1 Nbd7 13 a4 transposes to the Mamedyarov-Adams game, but the 10...a6 move order also gives White the added possibility of 11 Ne5!?, which Navara has played recently:

White’s ideas are similar to those after 9 Ne5, but following 11...c5 12 bxc5! bxc5 13 Rb1! there’s also pressure down the b-file and, as demonstrated in Navara, D - Nguyen, T, Black must be very wary of tricks!

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Nf3 c5 [E50]

4 e3 0-0 5 Nf3 c5 6 Bd3 b6 7 d5!?:

With 6...b6 Black is trying to reach the Keres Variation, which would arise after 7 0-0 Bb7, but 7 d5!? puts a spanner in works. This pawn move was first played in 1955, by Efim Geller, while Victor Korchnoi also tried it (as well as his 5 Bd3 c5 6 d5!? he played against Karpov).

A recent game followed earlier ones involving Geller and Korchnoi: 7...exd5 8 cxd5 Nxd5!? 9 Bxh7+ Kxh7 10 Qxd5 Bxc3+ 11 bxc3 Qf6!:

and now White played the novelty 12 Bb2! (instead of Geller and Korchnoi’s choice of 12 0-0) intending queenside castling and an attack on the kingside. See Harikrishna, P - Eljanov, P for analysis.

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

4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 d5 6 e5 Ne4 7 a3 (instead of 7 Bd3) 7...Bxc3+ 8 bxc3 c5 caused some interest a few years ago. It has since gone out of fashion but remains an interesting line:

The main line here is 9 Bd3, but 9 Bb2 is another option and this was chosen in the recent game Finegold, B - Caruana, F, which prompted me to revisit some old analysis I did when covering this line in Dangerous Weapons: The Nimzo-Indian.

Queen’s Indian: 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 Nc3 [E17]

4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 Nc3:

Recently we’ve seen some action in the line 6 0-0 0-0 7 Nc3 Ne4, including two games with Rapport playing Black. In this month’s update I’ve turned my attention to 6 Nc3, which may transpose to 6 0-0 but can also lead to independent lines.

a) 6...Ne4 normally transposes to 6 0-0 after 7 Bd2 Bf6 8 0-0, but recently Topalov tried 8 Qc2 Nxd2 9 Qxd2 d6 10 h4!?:

White delays castling, and in some lines he may be able to utilise this by attacking on the kingside. See Topalov, V - Eljanov, P for details.

b) After 6...0-0 White can avoid a transposition into main lines by shunning kingside castling in favour of 7 Qc2!?:

This move prevents ...Ne4, prepares e2-e4, and forces Black to react quickly or end up with a passive position. The Polish GM Bartlomiej Macieja has recently twice been successful with 6 Qc2, and here we look at both games.

The main line runs 7...c5 8 d5 exd5 9 Ng5 (We’ve also previously considered 9 Nh4 and 9 cxd5) and now:

b1) In Macieja, B - Salazar, F Black played 9...g6?!, a move White has scored well against. We also briefly consider 9...Nc6 and 9...Na6.

b2) 9...h6 is Black’s most common response to 9 Ng5. Here White’s most ambitious reply is 10 h4!? - see Macieja, B - Benitez Lozano, J for analysis.

Till next time, John

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