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First of all, many apologies for a late update - September has been a particularly busy time but I hope to be back on track in October.
There were plenty of interesting Nimzo-Indian clashes at the recent Chess Olympiad, and in fact all the games this month are from Istanbul.

Download PGN of September '12 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian 4 e3, 6...b6 [E52]

We begin with the decisive board-one clash in the final-round Ukraine-China match, Ivanchuk - Wang Hao, Istanbul 2012.

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 b6:

Ivanchuk varied from the usual 7 0-0 with 7 a3, and Wang Hao responded with 7...Bxc3+ 8 bxc3 c6!?. Black's 8th move is a novelty although it actually transposes to a position which has previously been reached via move-orders where Black has played an earlier ...c6. My feeling is that Black should be okay in this line, although in the game Wang Hao was unable to survive Ivanchuk's brilliant attacking play.

Karpov Variation [E54]

Next up, it's the Karpov Variation: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 0-0 cxd4 8 exd4 dxc4 9 Bxc4 b6 10 Bg5 Bb7

In Naiditsch - Leko, Istanbul 2012, the German GM chose an uncomplicated line with 11 Rc1 Nc6 12 Re1 Rc8 13 Bd3!, and won in fine style. This is a model game for anyone who likes to play IQPs.

Parma Variation 8...Nbd7 [E55]

Illescas Cordoba-Banikas, Istanbul 2012, saw the Parma Variation, and a critical gambit line: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 0-0 dxc4 8 Bxc4 Nbd7 9 a3 cxd4 10 axb4 dxc3 11 bxc3 Qc7 12 Be2!?

This pawn sacrifice came to prominence when Kramnik played it against Kasparov in their 2000 World Championship match. White gains considerable compensation in view of his active pieces and bishop pair. The modern preference after 12...Qxc3 appears to be 13 Rb1!?, as chosen by Illescas, instead of Kramnik's 13 Ba3.

Nimzo-Indian Leningrad Variation [E30]

A key development in a critical gambit line of the Leningrad Variation:

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Bg5 c5 5 d5 d6 6 e3 exd5 7 cxd5 Nbd7 8 Bd3!? Qa5 9 Nge2 Nxd5 10 0-0 Bxc3 11 bxc3 c4! 12 Bc2 0-0

Previously it was thought that 13 Ng3 gave White good compensation for the pawn, but Peter Leko's play with Black looks very convincing and might well have put this whole line out of business. See Georgiev - Leko, Istanbul 2012, for details.

13 Bh4 was also played at the Olympiad - see Yilmaz - Palac, Istanbul 2012.

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2 0-0, 6...d5 [E36]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 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:

The modern 6...d5 remains as popular as ever. In this line 12 Rc1 has replaced 12 Rd1 Qb6!, which is now simply regarded as a drawing line. So far Black has normally responded to 12 Rc1 in the same way, with 12...Qb6, but in So - Topalov, Istanbul 2012, the former World Championship instead chose 12...h6 13 Bh4 Qe7. This looks okay for Black, though not necessarily the way Topalov played it.

Nimzo-Indian Qc2/e3 Hybrid [E38]

Finally this month, some more creativity from the mind of Vassily Ivanchuk, who chooses a strange-looking mix of Qc2 and e3:

1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e6 3 d4 Bb4 4 Nf3 c5 5 e3 b6 6 Qc2!?

In truth this looks quite harmless, and yet in Ivanchuk's hands it's anything but, and after only 12 moves he'd already secured a clear advantage against a fellow 2700+ grandmaster! See Ivanchuk - Wojtaszek, Istanbul 2012, for details.

Till next time, John

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