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Please accept my apologies for a late update this month. This update covers some Nimzo-Indian action in 4 Qc2, 4 f3 and 4 e3 lines, from recent tournaments including the European Team Championship, European Club Cup and the Chinese Team Championship.

Download PGN of November '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!?:

This provocative move shows no sign of fading yet. Indeed, in the game Wang Hao-Ding Liren, Shenzhen 2015, Black reaches an excellent position after just 12 moves! A key improvement for White, however, is analysed in the notes.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5 7 Nf3 dxc4 [E35]

4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5 7 Nf3 dxc4 8 Qxc4 b6:

This line continues to be a very reliable option for Black. White is struggling to cause Black any problems. It's true that White is close to getting a little something in Wojtaszek - Aronian, Reykjavik 2015, but after one false move it's Black who actually gets the edge.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 f3 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 c5 7 cxd5 exd5 [E25]

4 f3 d5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 c5 7 cxd5 exd5 8 e3 Qc7:

8...Qc7 is a tricky move, the point of which is to disrupt White's intended Bd3, Ne2 development because of a queen fork on c3. Believe it or not, it's actually possible for White to allow 9 Bd3!? cxd4 10 cxd4 Qc3+ (see Avila Jimenez, J - Cruz, C/Salou 2008 in the archives) but in the recent game Baron - Williams, Skopje 2015, White was successful with 9 Ne2 followed by a kingside pawn storm.

Nimzo-Indian: Reshevsky Variation 6...Bd6 [E46]

4 e3 0-0 5 Nge2 d5 6 a3 Bd6:

This line continues to be popular, with more and more players seemingly choosing 5 Nge2 over 5 Bd3.

The main line is still 7 c5 Be7 8 b4 c6. Here White usually moves the knight to f4, but 9 Bb2 Nbd7 10 Ng3 is an alternative way to play - see the recent game Wang Hao-Lysyj, China 2015, for details.

The other option for White is 7 Ng3 when Black normally plays either 7...c5 or 7...c6. In the latter case, we reach a Semi-Slav type position where Black is aiming for ...e5, either with or without ...dxc4:

In Johansson - Cramling, Sweden 2015, White played 8 Be2 and an IQP was reached following 8...Nbd7 9 0-0 dxc4 10 Bxc4 e5 11 Ba2 exd4 12 exd4.

White can also use the knight on g3 by playing 8 e4, but this doesn't look too threatening - see Sjodahl - Smith, Sweden 2015, for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: Karpov Variation 10 Bg5 Bb7 11 Rc1 Nc6 [E54]

4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 0-0 cxd4 8 exd4 dxc4 9 Bxc4 b6 10 Bg5 Bb7 11 Rc1 Nc6 12 a3:

Finally this month, a miniature in the Karpov Variation. Usually Black retreats the bishop to e7 here, with typical IQP play. The ...Bxc3 plan is normally associated with ...Nbd7, and also when White must recapture with the b-pawn. However, 12...Bxc3!? has been pretty successful for Black, no more so in this recent game where White resigns nine moves later! Find out why in Brunner - Alekseev, Skopje 2015.

Till next time, John

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