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In this update we study some new developments in the Nimzo-Indian, Queen’s Indian and Bogo-Indian from two recent over-the-board events: the FIDE Grand Swiss in Riga and the European Team Championship in Slovenia. There’s a definite lack of internet blitz this month!

Download PGN of November ’21 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Nf3 d5 6 Bd2 [E52]

4 e3 0-0 5 Nf3 d5 6 Bd2 b6 7 cxd5 exd5 8 Rc1 Re8 9 Bd3 Bb7 10 0-0 Bf8 11 Ne5 c5 12 f4 Nc6 13 Ne2 Rc8 14 Be1:

Last month we examined the new idea 8...c5!?, but in this update we return to a key main line in the Bd2 Nimzo. Earlier this year we studied 14...cxd4 15 exd4 Ne4 16 Bb5! Re6 17 h3! which is quite promising for White - see the notes to Vidit,S-Dominguez Perez, L/ 2021. In the recent European Team Championship, Danish GM Jonas Buhl Bjerre, who won a gold medal for his board performance, played 14...Ne4!, which looks like a strong novelty - see the notes to Keymer, V - Bjerre, J.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 a3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 dxc4 8 Bxc4 c5 9 Nf3 [E53]

4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 a3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 dxc4 8 Bxc4 c5 9 Nf3 Qc7 10 Ba2 b5!:

9...b5 is a move we’ve seen once before. The double advance is more ambitious than the usual 10...b6 and has scored well for Black, who in many lines benefits from the space gained on the queenside. The recent game Mihov, F -Kjartansson, G provides another example of Black’s possibilities in this line.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5 7 Nf3 [E32]

4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5 7 Nf3 dxc4 8 Qxc4 b6 9 Bg5 Ba6 10 Qa4 c5 11 dxc5 bxc5 12 h4!?:

Earlier this year we studied 10...Qd7 11 Qc2 c5 12 dxc5 Rc8 13 Bxf6 gxf6 14 Rd1 Qb5 15 h4!? in Duda,J-Sevian,S/Krasnaya Polyana 2021, and here’s a more recent example of the h-pawn push, enabling Rh3, which is becoming increasing popular. See Kashlinskaya, A - Zhu, J for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 f3 c5 [E20]

4 f3 c5 5 d5 0-0 6 e4 d6 7 Nge2 b5 8 Nf4 exd5 9 Nfxd5 Nxd5 10 Qxd5 Qb6!:

This is one of the numerous critical positions in the 4 f3 c5 variation. The main choice for White here is 11 Bf4, but at the FIDE Grand Swiss Fabiano Caruana played the rare 11 cxb5. This is the engine’s first choice, so it’s not surprising it has come to Caruana’s attention. However, Sevian’s response was convincing and Black soon gained a promising position - see the notes to Caruana, F - Sevian, S for analysis.

Queen’s Indian: 4 g3 Ba6 5 b3 Bb7 [E15]

4 g3 Ba6 5 b3 Bb7 6 Bg2 Bb4+ 7 Bd2 a5 8 0-0 0-0 9 Nc3 d6:

Black’s set-up is quite a popular one for those who enjoy pure Queen’s/Nimzo Indian positions. We’ve seen previously how Black can gain typical counterplay from a solid base, for example after 10 Qc2 Nbd7 11 Rad1 Bxc3 12 Bxc3 Be4 13 Qc1 a4! (Morovic Fernandez,I-Adams,M/ Istanbul 2000).

However, 10 d5! seems to put a put a huge spanner in the works. This pawn advance is a common idea of course, but it’s rare in this position. The evidence suggests that it leads to promising play for White - see the notes to Seo, J - Teclaf, P.

Queen’s Indian: 4 a3 Bb7 5 Bf4 [E12]

4 a3 Bb7 5 Bf4 c5:

This Bf4/a3 hybrid idea continues to attract interest at grandmaster level. Earlier this year we studied 6 Nc3 cxd4 7 Qxd4, played in Shankland,S-Ding,L. At the European Team Championship the Romanian GM Mircea-Emilian Parligras unleashed the novelty 6 d5?!. With White spending time on a2-a3, this typical sacrifice shouldn’t work here but as always it’s easier to refute a gambit from the armchair than over the board. See Parligras, M - Blohberger, F for analysis.

Bogo-Indian: 4 Bd2 a5 5 Nc3 [E11]

4 Bd2 a5 5 Nc3 b6 6 g3:

Given that Bd2 has become a recognised weapon in the Nimzo-Indian, there’s certainly an attraction to playing Bd2 followed by Nc3 in a position where Black has committed to ...a5. However, perhaps 6 e3 is the more consistent follow-up. In a recent game White played 6 g3 instead, but 6...Ba6! 7 b3 0-0 8 Bg2 c6! aims for a closed Catalan set-up with ...d5 in which White’s queenside minor pieces are sub-optimally placed. See Sanikidze, T - Van Foreest, J for analysis.

Till next time, John

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