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There were nine other world-class players competing, but the Saint Louis rapid and blitz tournament was all about a certain Garry Kasparov! He was understandably quite rusty, and he did struggle in the rapidplay section, but he delighted his supporters by finishing very strongly in the blitz section.
He played on the white side of the Nimzo on a few occasions, and even unleashed an amazing new idea which we’ll look at in this update.

Download PGN of September ’17 Nimzo and Benoni games

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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 h4!?:

A completely new idea! Kasparov played this move three times at Saint Louis, in the blitz section of the tournament, first against Aronian, then Nakamura and finally Anand. He scored 1.5/3 but got excellent positions in two of the games.

Nakamura reacted aggressively with 9...c5, a logical choice given that 9 h4 is a non-developing move, but was shocked by 10 dxc5 bxc5 11 h5! h6 12 g4!:

Out of nowhere, Black has some problems to solve - see Kasparov, G - Nakamura, H.

In the first game Aronian played 9...Bb7, and later this was repeated by Anand - see Kasparov, G - Aronian, L for analysis.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5 7 Bg5 [E32]

4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5 7 Bg5 dxc4 8 Qxc4 b6 9 Rc1!?:

Although 7 Bg5 allows Black the option of 7...c5, it also gives White an extra option compared to 7 Nf3 if Black captures on c4, namely to delay the development of the knight in favour of a rook move. We’ve previously seen 9 Rd1, which has been played many times, but Eljanov’s 9 Rc1 is very rare. In Eljanov, P - Lenderman, A White manages to gain a small but persistent edge from the opening.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 h6 [E35]

4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 h6 7 Bh4 c5 8 dxc5 0-0 9 e3 Be6:

Kasparov seemed to be less prepared in this line. Le Quang Liem avoided the sharp 8...g5, made famous by its use in Kasparov’s 1993 match with Nigel Short, and instead played the trendy and solid ...0-0/...Be6 idea. After 10 Nf3 Nbd7 11 a3 Bxc3+! 12 Qxc3 g5! 13 Bg3 Ne4 Black was fine all the way up to an extraordinary end - see the analysis in Kasparov, G - Le Quang Liem.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 g3 [E20]

4 g3 0-0 5 Bg2 d5 6 Nf3:

I was surprised to see that this is a line we haven’t yet studied on this site, so some coverage is overdue. Traditionally, most players have chosen 4 Nf3 to enter the Kasparov Variation (4...c5 5 g3), which avoids this line, but in recent times there’s been more of a willingness to enter it. It’s very similar to the Catalan, but with Black’s bishop on b4 rather than e7. The key difference is that after Black’s most popular reply 6...dxc4, White doesn’t regain the pawn so basically it’s a proper gambit. This line hasn’t enjoyed a particularly good reputation, but White’s surprise win in Sambuev, B - Wei Yi does demonstrate that, at the very least, White gets good practical chances.

Nimzo-Indian: Karpov Variation [E54]

4 e3 0-0 5 Nf3 d5 6 Bd3 c5 7 0-0 dxc4 8 Bxc4 cxd4 9 exd4 b6 10 Qe2 Bb7 11 Rd1 Bxc3 12 bxc3 Qc7:

The critical line as we’ve seen numerous times is 13 Bd3, offering the c3-pawn. If Black is willing and able to navigate the very sharp lines after the bishop retreat (and that’s quite a big ‘if’), 11...Bxc3 12 bxc3 Qc7 is a good practical choice because White’s other options offer nothing and even give Black chances to seize an advantage. In Kravtsiv, M - Ding Liren.

White avoided the pawn sacrifice by playing 13 Ne5, but Ding Liren’s response was very convincing.

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

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

This is one of Rapport’s favoured lines and we’ve already seen two of his earlier games with it this year, against So and Aronian. At the World Cup he tried it again, this time against Ding Liren, and the Chinese GM gained an advantage with a very subtle novelty 9 Re1!?. See the analysis in Ding Liren - Rapport, R.

Till next time, John

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