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In this month’s update we continue covering games from the FIDE Grand Swiss, this time focussing on games in the Queen’s Indian, Bogo-Indian and Modern Benoni.

Download PGN of November ’19 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Queen’s Indian: 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 0-0 0-0 7 Nc3 [E18]

4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 0-0 0-0 7 Nc3 Ne4 8 Bd2 Bf6 9 Re1!?:

Since Ding Liren played this subtle rook move in 2017, numerous other players have followed him and so far White’s results have been impressive. A game from Round 1 continued 9...c5 10 d5 exd5 11 cxd5 Nxd2 12 Qxd2 (a novelty) 12...d6:

Here 13 Qf4! prevented ...Nd7, prepared the possibility of the pawn break e4-e5 and retained an edge for White. See the notes to Melkumyan, H - Bulmaga, I to find out how the game lasted only 10 more moves!

4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 0-0 0-0 7 Nc3 d5:

Although 7...Ne4 is by far Black’s most popular choice, especially in high-level chess, 7...d5 has also been played many times. The key difference between this position and the Closed Catalan is that White has the opportunity to capture on d5 when Black cannot recapture with the c-pawn. The resulting pawn structure after 8 cxd5 exd5 is known to be favourable for White, even if the positions are perfectly playable for Black. The position after 9 Ne5 was reached (via transposition) in Rakhmanov, A - Zatonskih, A:

Rakhmanov met Zatonskih’s 9...c6?! very effectively with the direct 10 e4! dxe4 11 Nxe4, after which White already enjoys a considerable advantage. Alternatives to 9...c6 are covered in the notes.

Queen’s Indian: 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 0-0 0-0 7 Re1 [E17]

4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 0-0 0-0 7 Re1 d5 8 cxd5 exd5 9 Nc3 Ne4 10 Nd2 f5 11 Ndxe4 dxe4 12 Bf4:

Combining ...Ne4 and ...d5 against 7 Re1 isn’t a particularly popular choice (more typically Black would play 9...Na6 10 Bf4 c5, or 9...Nbd7 10 Bf4 c5), but some grandmasters have shown that Black’s position is playable. Previously we’ve seen that 13...Bd6! is a good option here. In a Round 4 game in Douglas Black instead chose 13...a6, but after 13 h4 (White has sharper options) played 13...Bd6! anyway. See Ragger, M - Vovk, A for analysis.

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

4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 g6!?:

5...g6 could be a decent, albeit slightly risky surprise weapon for Black. If playing this double fianchetto line, it’s also worth investigating the similar double fianchetto lines in the Réti/English and King’s Indian Fianchetto Variation, where Black may favourably delay or even omit ...e6, but transpositions are possible too.

Previously we’ve covered the position after 6 0-0 Bg7 7 Nc3 Ne4, but the move order 6 Nc3 allows White to meet 6...Ne4 with 7 d5!? intending 7...Nxc3 8 Qd4!. After 6...Bg7 White may prevent the freeing ...Ne4 with 7 d5!? and hope to utilise the space advantage:

See the notes to Sarana, A - Le, Quang Liem.

Bogo-Indian: 4 Nbd2 0-0 5 a3 Be7 [E11]

4 Nbd2 0-0 5 a3 Be7 6 e4 d6!?:

This is an interesting alternative to 6...d5, and indeed it has been favoured by both Carlsen and Caruana. Black’s intention is an Old Indian set-up with ... e5. Initially this seems like a passive approach, especially given a tempo is lost with ...e6-e5. However, Black is exploiting the fact that in Old Indian / King’s Indian pawn structures, White’s knight on d2 is poorly placed - so poor that White often feels obliged to spend time improving it with Nb1-c3!

After 7 Be2 Black can play 7...Nbd7 8 0-0 e5, or even 7...c5, but in a Round 4 game Black instead chose 7...Nfd7!?:

This prepares ... e5 and also gets ready for ...f5 if White blocks the centre with d4-d5. After 8 0-0 e5 9 d5 a5 10 b3 f5!? Black gained strong counterplay.

See Nebolsina, V - Prithu, G for analysis and other options.

Modern Benoni Fianchetto: 9...Re8 [A62]

6 Nf3 g6 7 g3 Bg7 8 Bg2 0-0 9 0-0 Re8 10 Bf4 Bf5 11 Nh4 Bg4 12 Qd2:

The relatively new 10...Bf5 continues to be a popular choice for Black in the Benoni fianchetto line. After 12...b5! 13 Nxb5 Rxe2 Black got sufficient counterplay, but 13 Rfe1 may be more testing - see the notes to Adhiban, B - Harikrishna, P.

Modern Benoni: Old Classical: 9...Re8 10 Nd2 Na6 11 f3 [A79]

6 e4 g6 7 Nf3 Bg7 8 Be2 0-0 9 0-0 Re8 10 Nd2 Na6 11 f3 Nc7 12 a4 b6 13 Nc4 Ba6 14 Bg5:

This old line is still seen from time to time. Usually Black breaks the pin with 14...Qd7 and follows up with ...Bxc4, ...a6 and ...b5. In Douglas, however, Vladimir Akopian preferred to break the pin by chasing the bishop away, at a cost of weakening some light squares, with 14...h6 15 Bh4 g5. This is risky, as shown in Solomon, K - Akopian, V.

Till next time, John

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