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This month feature recent Nimzo and Queen's Indian action, with all games coming from the Olympiad in Baku.

Download PGN of September ’16 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 with ...b6, White plays Bd2 [E52/E21]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 Bd3 Bb7 6 Nf3 0-0 7 Bd2:

There's a growing trend for the innocuous-looking Bd2 to appear in a few Nimzo Rubinstein lines. At the Olympiad, Li Chao reached this position twice as White on consecutive days, first against Short and then against Almasi. In both games he managed to gain a decisive advantage, but tragically for him and the Chinese team, his final score was 0/2.

Short chose the most popular response, 7...d5, after which Li Chao fixed the structure with 8 cxd5 exd5. Later in the game Li Chao used an effective plan we've previously seen in similar lines. See Li Chao - Short, N, Baku Olympiad 2016, for analysis of a very eventful game.

The next day, Almasi instead opted for 7...d6:

White typically castles here but Li Chao played 8 Qc2 ruling out ideas based on ...Bxc3 and ...Ne4. See Li Chao - Almasi, Z, Baku Olympiad 2016.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 b6 5 Bd3 Dutch Setup [E43]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 Bd3 Bb7 6 Nf3 Ne4 7 0-0 Bxc3 8 bxc3 0-0:

Magnus Carlsen reached this position as White (although by a strange move order; if you don't already know, see if you can guess his first move!). 9 Qc2 f5 reaches the main line, but White is under no obligation to play Qc2 when Black captures early on c3. Instead Carlsen chose 9 Ne1 and Black's next move was an instructive mistake allowing White to get a dominating position. See Carlsen, M - Hossain, E, Baku Olympiad 2016, for details.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d6 [E32]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d6 7 f3 d5!?:

This is an idea we've seen before. Black taking two moves over ...d5 does make a strange impression, but the reasoning is that the extra move f2-f3 maybe even harms White. 8 Bg5 can be met aggressively by 8...c5!? (see the notes to Sakaev,K-Zhigalko,S/St Petersburg 2010). In Laznicka, V - Tomashevsky, E, Baku Olympiad 2016, White chose the more modest (and safer) 8 cxd5 exd5 9 e3.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 cxd5 exd5 [E48]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 cxd5 exd5 7 Nge2 Re8 8 0-0 Bd6:

White's main plan in this position involves f2-f3 and a slow build-up on the kingside. It's well know that the immediate 9 f3 should be met by 9...c5!, but at the Olympiad Navara chose the flexible move 9 Bd2 and soon gained the advantage - see Navara, D - Stefansson, H, Baku Olympiad 2016, for analysis.

Queen's Indian: 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Bb4+ [E16]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Bb4+ 6 Bd2 Bxd2+ 7 Qxd2 0-0 8 Nc3 Ne4 9 Qd3 f5:

It's true that White has scored well against 9...f5, and in this line in general. However, Vallejo Pons was willing to play this line as Black at the Olympiad, and despite the final result it seems to be okay for Black. See Wojtaszek, R - Vallejo Pons, F, Baku Olympiad 2016.

Queen's Indian: 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Bb7 [E17]

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 g3 b6 4 Bg2 Bb7 5 0-0 Be7 6 c4 0-0 7 d5:

Finally this month, here's a good example of what can happen if Black doesn't know what he's doing against the 7 d5 gambit, which scores well (64% according to the online database) at least in part because some players are not sufficiently prepared to meet it. See Adly, A - Almedina Ortiz, E, Baku Olympiad 2016, for a crushing win for White against sub-optimal defence.

Till next time, John

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