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Firstly, a big thank you to Grandmaster Ashwin Jayaram for stepping in during my absence and providing excellent games and analysis in last month’s update.
This month’s update includes an incredible new idea in the Nimzo-Indian, an interesting option for Black in the g3 Queen’s Indian and two good old-fashioned king hunts: one successful in the game and the other successful in the notes!

Download PGN of November ’17 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: Karpov Variation [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 Ne5 Nbd7:

This mainline position has occurred countless times at all levels of chess, but no-one (at least no-one on my database) has ever played the amazing sacrifice 12 Nxf7!?. That is exactly what happened in Debashis, D - Lalith, B, and following 12...Kxf7 13 d5! White gained a strong attack. Look out for a line in the notes which is a forced checkmate in 18 moves, with the black king reaching c2!

With accurate play, White probably has a draw at best after 12...Kxf7, but there are numerous pitfalls and Black needs to defend precisely, as Lalith did here.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Nf3 0-0 [E21]

4 Nf3 0-0 5 Bg5 c5 6 e3 cxd4 7 Qxd4!?:

4...0-0 is becoming an increasingly popular response to 4 Nf3 at the highest level, having been employed by Carlsen, Nakamura, Kramnik and Ding Liren. In Bai, J - Ding Liren, instead of recapturing with the e-pawn White chose the rare 7 Qxd4, which is the computer engines’ first choice. Ding Liren reacted violently with 7...Nc6 8 Qd3 h6 9 Bh4 d5 10 Rd1 g5!? 11 Bg3 Ne4 and later on the chess world was treated to a wonderful king hunt from the World Cup finalist.

Nimzo-Indian 4 g3 [E20]

4 g3 0-0 5 Bg2 d5:

In recent times there appears to be more of a readiness to enter this line as White, which is very similar to the Catalan, but with Black’s bishop on b4 rather than e7. We previously looked at Sambuev-Wei Yi from the 2017 World Cup, and since losing that game Wei Yei has twice tried this line as White. He chose 6 a3 (instead of 6 Nf3), a move also used by Mamedyarov, Nakamura and Topalov. After 6...Bxc3+ (6...Be7 is equally playable) 7 bxc3, Black has a choice:

a) 7...c6 is a typical idea which allows ...cxd5, a more desirable recapture on d5 if White plays cxd5. Black aims to follow up by putting pressure on the c4-pawn to induce White into the pawn swap. See Wei Yi - Zhao Jun for analysis.

b) 7...dxc4 is the main alternative and scores better for Black than 7...c6. This is covered in Sadorra, J - Wang Hao.

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

4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 d5 6 e5 Ne4 7 Bd3 c5 8 Nf3 cxd4 9 Nxd4 Nd7 10 Bf4 Ndc5 11 0-0 Bxc3 12 bxc3 Nxd3 13 Qxd3 b6 14 cxd5 Qxd5:

White has got good results in this line. Objectively the typical resulting positions might be level - computer engines don’t dislike Black’s game - but in practice it’s not easy for Black to completely defuse White’s initiative and attacking chances on the kingside. Sadorra, J - Hambleton, A continued 15 Rfd1 Nc5 16 Qg3 Qe4 and now 17 Bg5 which was a novelty; 17 Nb5 to sink the knight into d6 has been White’s most popular choice here. Later on Black was close to being in trouble on the kingside but accurate defence turned the tables. Look out for a sneaky trap which saves White half a point at the end.

Queen’s Indian: 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 g6 [E16]

4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 g6!? 6 0-0 Bg7 7 Nc3 Ne4:

5...g6 is an interesting option for Black to mix things up in the 4 g3 Queen’s Indian. With this double fianchetto line there are numerous different move orders to consider, including the Reti/English and even the King’s Indian Fianchetto Variation, where Black may favourably delay or even omit ...e6. It’s worth noting that neither game in this update came from a pure Queen’s Indian move order, and later on it will be worth looking at earlier options after 5...g6, but for now let’s take a look at the two games reaching the position after 7...Ne4:

a) 8 Bd2 0-0 9 Rc1is the normal reaction to ...Ne4 in the 4 g3 Bb7 main line, it’s obviously a consideration here too, and it was White’s choice in the recent blitz game So, W - Carlsen, M.:

However, compared to the 4 g3 Bb7 main line, Black seems to have gained a little, since ...g6 and ...Bg7 is more a harmonious set-up than ...Be7-f6. Indeed, in the latter scenario Black often ends up playing ...g6 and ...Bg7 anyway, so there’s even an argument that Black has gained two moves here! In any case, Carlsen soon reaches a very good position.

b) 8 Nxe4 Bxe4 9 Bg5! is a way to try and exploit Black’s ...g6 and ...Bg7 set-up:

9...f6 is possible, but 9...Qc8!? is the most creative response to 9 Bg5. Black is aiming for a harmonious set-up with ...d6, ...Nd7 and ...Qb7. See Theodorou, N - Stocek, J for analysis.

Till next time, John

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