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John Emms the Nimzo-Indian move by move EVERYMAN CHESS John Emms the Nimzo-Indian move by move EVERYMAN C! First published in 2011 by Gloucester Publishers Limited, Northburgh House, 10 Northburgh Street, London ECIV OAT Copyright © 2011 John Emms Reprinted 2012 ‘The right of John Emms to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Allrights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored ina retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the publisher. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available ftom the British Library. ISBN: 978 1 85744 765 1 Distributed in North America by The Globe Pequot Press, P.O Box 480, 246 Goose Lane, Guilford, CT 06437-0480. All other sales enquiries should be directed to Everyman Chess, Northburgh House, 10 Northburgh Street, London EC1V OAT tel: 020 7253 7887 fax: 020 7490 3708 email, website: Everyman is the registered trade mark of Random House Inc. and is used in this work under licence from Random House Inc. To Daniel Everyman Chess Series Chief advisor: Byron Jacobs Commissioning editor: John Ems Assistant editor: Richard Palliser ‘Typeset and edited by First Rank Publishing, Brighton. Cover design by Horatio Monteverde. Contents Bibliography Introduction 1 Samisch Variation: 4 a3 2.The 4 £3 Variation 3 Rubinstein Variatioi 4Rul 4 e3 Main Lit .d Variation: 4 Bj Index of Games. Bibliography Books Challenging the Nimzo-Indian, David Vigorito (Quality Chess 2007) Chess openings for Black, Explained, Lev Aburt, Roman Dzindzichashvili and Eugene Perelshteyn (CIRC 2005) Dangerous Weapons: The Nimzo-Indian, John Emms, Chris Ward and Richard Palliser (Everyman Chess 2006) Easy Guide to the Nimzo-Indian, John Emms (Everyman Chess 1998) Mastering the Nimzo-Indian, Tony Kosten (Batsford 1998) Nimzo-Indian Defence Classical Variation, Ivan Sokolov (Everyman Chess 1995) Nimzo-Indian Kasparov Variation, Chtis Ward (Everyman Chess 2003) Play the 4 f3 Nimzo-Indian, Yuri Yakovich (Gambit 2004) Play the Nimzo-Indian, Edward Dearing (Everyman Chess 2005) Starting Out: The Nimzo-Indian, Chris Ward (Everyman Chess 2002) The Nimzo-Indian Defence, Svetozat Gligoric (Cadogan 1993) The Nimzo-Indian: 4 ¢3, Carsten Hansen (Gambit 2002) Electronic sources, DVDs and databases Chess Informants Chess Today Nimzo Indian 4.88 and Samisch Variation, Vadim Milov (ChessBase 2002) Mega Database (ChessBase) The Week in Chess Talso made use of analysis and notes from my monthly Ninzo-Indian column hosted by Introduction What is the Nimzo-Indian? ‘The Nimzo-Indian Defence arises after the opening moves 1 d4 Nf6 2 4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4. £4£it att The Nimzo-Indian was the creation of Aron Nimzowitsch, who was one of the World’s strongest players in the 1920s, as well as a hugely influential writer. He was also the leader of the Hypermodem School of chess. The hypermodem approach to chess openings advocated long-range control of the centre with pieces as opposed to classical occupation with pawns which previously had been thought to be compulsory. The Nimzo-Indian bears all the hallmarks ofa hypermodem opening. After 1 d4 White would ideally like to follow up with e2-e4. Black prevents this move, not with the classical 1 ... dS but with a piece: 1 ... Nf6!. Afier 2 4 €6 3 Ne3 White is again ready to play ¢2-c4. Black could still occupy the centre with 3... d5 but instead uses another piece to prevent White’s advance: 3... Bb4!. The Ninvo-Indian doesn’t always stick to hypermodem principles though; in some main lines Black does quickly occupy the centre with pawns. Another feature to mention straightaway is Black’s rapid development. In the diagram position Blick is already prepared to castle if he needs to, whereas it willtake White at least three more moves before he can castle kingside. The Attraction of the Nimzo-Indian I’ve been playing the Ninzo-Indian for over 30 years, starting as a junior all the way up to grandmaster level. I swapped around with other openings but always remained loyal to the Nimzo. T’'m sure one of the reasons I’m still attracted to the Nimzo-Indian is that I’m always learning something new about it, even afler all these years. I discovered quite a few new things during the writing of this book. ‘The Nimzo-Indian is such a flexible opening with so many different possibilities and so many ways to play it New ideas are always cropping up too, not just novelties in existing lines but whole new variations. Even so, probably the greatest attraction of the Nimzo-Indian is its relabiliy. The Ninzo-Indian is undoubtedly a sound opening and has no chance of being refuted anytime soon. Yet it also offers players enough imbalances in the position to be able to outplay opponents — the two most typical ones being superior pawn structure versus bishop pair and centre (see Chapter 1-2), and lead in development versus bishop pair (See Chapter 5). I feelit’s these two qualities — soundness and imbalance — which have attracted virtually all the World’s leading players to the Nimzo-Indian at one time or another. ‘What this book covers I’ve always thought that one of the most difficult periods of'a game is when our opening knowledge runs out, when we are “out of book” — when we have to think for ourselves! This happens in 99% of the games we play, and I’ve tried to address the situation in this book by focussing on the following: 1. Typical situations in opening and middlegame positions (and very occasionally thematic endings). 2. Typical plans for both sides and how players react to these. 3. Typical and thematic tactical opportunities for both sides. 4, The principles and guidelines of each variation covered. 5. The key questions we should be asking ourselves during study and in game situations, P've akso presented the opening theory for each variation covered, and highlighted move-order issues and possible transpositions into other lines in the book. In general I’ve chosen to cover well known lines, but I’ve ako favoured lines which I feel teach us a great deal about the basic principks of the Ninzo-Indian, for example fighting against the doubled c-pawns or exploiting a lead in development when White avoids the doubled pawns Being a Ninwo-Indian player for such a long time, I can’t help but have a certain bias to the Black side of this opening, and this book is aimed more at those who play (or want to play) the Ninzo-Indian as Black. T’ve covered a sufficient number of lines so that those playing Black can choose at least one option against every main line White can phy. I do feel, though, that the general study of Nimzo-Indian positions, as well as the opening theory, will also be of value to those who prefer playing the White side. There is a huge number of players whose ideas have contributed immensely to the development of the Nimzo-Indian, and some of these players are featured in this book. Their creative efforts over the board make the task of studying and writing about the Nimzo-Indian much casier, and for this they deserve a huge amount of appreciation. If I had to name just a very few high-profile players, I would mention Anatoly Karpov, ‘Vladimir Kramnik, Michael Adams, Peter Leko, Pavel Eljanov and current World Champion Vishy Anand, all of whose games are well worth following to obtain a better fel for the Nimzo and to check for new ideas. On the White side I should mention Garry Kasparov, Magnus Carken, Kramnik (again) and Alexander Morozevich. The Move by Move Series The Move by Move series tries to replicate — as much as possible — lessons between chess teachers and students, and encourages the practising of skils just as much as the assimilation of knowledge. Throughout this book you will come across questions which could be asked by students or teachers, and you will also be invited to try exercises of varying degrees of difficulty. To get the most out of the games, please pause at questions before moving on, and spend some time on each exercise before checking the answer. I've highlighted some of the more difficult exercises and also included a few hints in places. Finally, many thanks go to all those who have been kind enough to offer inspiration, advice and assistance in the creation and development of Move by Move. Special thanks go to Darren Reed. John Emms Kent September 2011 Chapter One Samisch Variation: 4 a3 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Ne3 Bb4 Let’s begin our Nimvo-Indian journey by secing what happens if White attacks the bishop straightaway: 4 a3 Bxc3+ 5 bxc3. Zasee & £Lta4 422 1a 4/a3 is knowm as the Sémisch Variation. Instead of ignoring the bishop on b4, White immediately forces Black to exchange it for the knight. This is certainly quite a radical solution. White uses up a move (a2-a3), one he could otherwise have spent on developing, to force Black to do something he’s quite happy to do — infict White with doubled c-pawns. The advantage from White’s point of view is that at least the situation is resolved quickly and he can now focus on other goals, Nevertheless, the Stimisch Variation isn’t seen as a major threat to the Nimzo-Indian and isn’t hugely popular at the moment. Question: Then why begin with the Samisch? Answer: In one way the Stimisch could stil be viewed as a critical test of the Nimzo-Indian. White is basically questioning Black’s whole opening strategy. He thinks so lttle of Black’s “threat” to take on 3 he is wiling to expend a whole move to forve Black to carry it out! Furthermore, I feel that studying the sharp imbalanced positions which the Saimisch Variation provides is a good starting point, and also a basic testing ground for would-be Nimzo-Indian players. If you don’t enjoy the positions where you are fighting against the doubled c-pawns, it’s possible that the Nimzo-Indian is simply not the opening for you. Equally, it’s exactly these types of position which initially attract many players to the opening Black has a number of good ways of playing against the Stimisch. For this book I’ve chosen to study 5... b6, which I feel is the most principled and perhaps the most ambitious way for Black to start the fight against the doubled pawns. Before I give anything more away, let’s move on to the first game! Game 1 L.Labensky-M.Brodsky Ukrainian Championship, Rivne 2005 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 a3 Bxc3+ 5 bxc3 b6 6 £3 Exercise: Where should Black develop his light-squared bishop: b7 or a6? 6 B is White’s most popular and most ambitious move. Basically he is looking to create an imposing centre as quickly possible, by playing ¢2-e4, Black’s previous move, 5 ... b6, didn’t directly attack the centre (in comparison to say 4 ... d5) so White has fee rein to do this. Answer: 6 ... Ba6! Question: Why is 6 ... Ba6 better than 6 ... Bb7? Answer: Brodsky is not just developing his pieces; he’s developing them with a specific plan — to target White’s weak pawn on 4, If Black doesn’t exploit this opportunity to do so, the reasoning behind 3 ... Bb4 and 4 ... Bxc3+ is lost. For exampk, 6 ... Bb7?! doesn’t look such a bad move, but after, say, 7 e4 d6 8 Bd3 Nbd7 9 Ne2 0-0 hat passively placed, in that it’s dificult to create real counterplay. Meanwhile, White is free to build up an on the kingside. 10 ... c5 11 Ng3 Rc8 12 Bb2 Qc7 13 #4! RAMS 14 e5! Ne8 15 Qe2, as in A.Chilov-E.Pandavos, Kava 1999, is the kind of grim position Black must do his utmost to avoid. Ted Exercise: Where should Black develop his queen’s knight: directly to ¢6, or to d7 after .. d6? Answer: 7 . Ne6! The best move, and consistent with all of Black’s previous play. Remember Black’s plan of targeting the c4-pawn? The knight is headed for aS where it can do just this. 7 ... d6 8 Bd3 Nbd7 is solid, but again Black has fewer chances to obtain quick counterplay this way. Notice that 8 ... Nc6?? (instead of 8 ... Nbd7) provides a good reminder not to mix plans. Here it’s a blinder due to 9 Qa4! Bb7 10 d5 winning a piece. 8B 8 BgS and 8 eS are considered in the next two games. 8... NaS! Brodsky singk-mindedly continues his attack on the c4-pawn. Question: Shouldn't Black finish his development first, say with 8 ... 0-0, befbre he does anything else? Answer: Black could castle here, and this could even lead to positions discussed in the next chapter (4 8 0-0), But by attacking c4 as quickly as possible Black is trying to take the initiative. By having to meet the threats to c4 White’s own developing plans are stalled. eS White could defend the c4-pawn immediately, but it’s obviously very tempting to advance in the centre and force the f8-knight to move again. If9 Qe2 a typical sequence is 9... d6 10 Nh3. Exercise: The c4-pawn is attacked twice and defended twice. Can you see a mini-plan for Black to attack the pawn fora third time? (Hint: It takes two move moves.) Answer: Black can utilize his queen: 10 ... Qd7!? preparing ... Qa4, or possibly ... Qc6. Remember this idea, because it crops up in many similar positions. White could respond with 11 Rb1 so as to answer ... Qad with Rb4. Here are two contrasting examples ffom this complex position: a) 11 ... 0-0-0 12 NZ €5%! 13 c5! Bxd3 14 Nxd3 exd4 15 cxb6 axb6 16 cxd4 Kb7 17 0-0 was very nice for White in D-Bocharov-B.Predojevic, Moscow 2011: 1. His centre is strong; 2. The weak c4-pawn has been eliminated; and 3. He enjoys promising attacking chances against Black’s king. b) 11 ... c5 is more thematic. First, by preventing Rb4 Black can now consider ... Qa4 again, Second, Black can now bring another piece to bear down on the c4-pawn, with ... Re8 lining up ... cxd4 to uncover the rook. After 12 0-0 Qa4! 13 B& Nxed 14 d5 e5 15 BgS Nd7 16 N@2 16 17 Bel bS White didn’t have cnough play for the pawn in V.Belous-V.Fedoscey, St Petersburg 2011. Instead, 12 ¢5!? dxeS 13 dxeS Neg 14 NQ! planing Ne4 looks more challenging to me. Returning to the position after 9 Qe2, Black has a less critical but perhaps safér option in 9 ... Nb3. The point of this move is simply to swap off one of White’s bishops after 10 Rb1, with 10 ... Nxcl 11 Rxcl. Question: Doesn't this reduce the pressure on the c4-pawn? Answer: Yes it does, but on the positive side White has been stripped of one of his major attacking pieces, so Black needn't be so worried about a kingside attack. And of course those weaknesses on the queenside won't go away. After I1 ... 0-0 12 eS NhS (or 12 ... Ne8) 13 Nh3 Qh4+ the position looks fine for Black. Let’s retum to the game and to the position after Labensky’s choice of 9 e5: Question: Which square should Black’s knight choose: h5 or e8? Answer: 9. Ng8! This retreat could be viewed as the sacrifice Black has to make in order to create such a rapid attack on A. Initially 9 ... NhS looks quite attractive, as Black threatens both the c4-pawn and a nasty check on hd. However, 10 Nh3! is a strong reply for White, meeting the threat with a threat of his own. Can you see it? IfBlack takes on c4 White can carry out his idea: 10... Bxc4? 11 Bxc4 Nxcd 12 g4! Qh4+ 13 Nf2 and the knight on hS is lost. 0 ... Qh4+ is stronger, but 11 Kfl! threatens to trap the queen with Bg5 and still causes problems; e.g. 1... h6 12 NiQ! and if 12 ... Bxo4? White again has 13 Bxo4 Nxcd 14 g4!. 10 Qa4 10 Qe2 can be answered the same way: 10 ... c5 and if 11 dxc5? Black plays the clever 11 ... Nb3! 12 RbI Nxc5 witha great position. The knight stands on a fine outpost on c5, but Blick could just simply take the bishop on d3 and then pile up on 4 with ... Re8, ... Qh4+ etc. 10...¢5 Let’s assess 10 ... 5, a key Nimzo-Indian move: 1. It fixes the o4-pawn, although at the moment the pin on the d3-bishop was enough to do this. 2. It gives Black more space in which to operate on the queenside. 3. It allows Black to exert more pressure on c4 with ... Qe7 and ... Re8. 4, It attack’s White’s centre: the d4-pawn and, less directly, the e5-pawn. 5. White is given the chance to play dxc$ if the right opportunity arises. If the position opens up, his two bishops could benefit. 6. Black’s dark squares, in particular d6, have been weakened. Black always needs to keep these considerations in mind when deciding whether or not to play... ¢5. In this particular instance, I would say the positives heavily outweigh the negatives. fe ml Re At Exercise: Can you find a tactic for Black if White plays 11 dxc5? 11 Be3 Answer: 11 dxc5 can be met by 11 ... Bxc4! 12 Bxc4 Qh4+! regaining the piece with some advantage; e.g. 13 3 Qxed 14 Qxed Nxc4 15 exb6 axb6 16 & Ne7 17 NB Nd5 when both of Black’s knights are actively placed, whereas White’s c1-bishop is a miserable piece. Black will continue pressing for light-square dominance with moves such as ... Ke7, ... Rfe8 and ... Ra4. 11s Qe7 Brodsky defends ¢5, attacks e5 (thus discouraging dxc5) and ako sets up an X-ray threat to the e4-pawn with ... oxd4. 12 Rel Labensky defends against ... cxd4 ideas, as now affer cxd4 the rook protects c4. All well and good, but the plan is flawed as we shall see ina couple of moves. Objectively White’s best bet here may be to make things messy with 12 dxc5!. One possible continuation is 12 ... QxeS 13 Kf2 Qxe3 which just looks good for Black, but White has a remarkable resource in 14 ‘Ne2! and if 14 ... Qxd3 then 15 Rad1 Qxc4 16 Qxd7+ K{8 17 Qd6+ forces a draw by perpetual check: 17 o. Ne7 18 Qd8+! would be embarrassing! 12... Ne7 13 Ne2 Exercise: Can you find a very strong idea for Black here? Answer: 13 .. Qc6! Brodsky’s little queen move has devastating consequences. White can no longer hold on to the c4-pawn. Because White’s whoke strategy has been to protect c4 before trying anything active, once the c4-pawn does g0 his position falls apart — he is too passively placed to expect any real compensation. 14 Qe2 If 14 Qxc6 Nexc6 and the c4-pawn drops next move. The problem for White is that 15 dxe5 is very strongly met by 15 ... Nxe5!. This is why Brodsky played ... Ne7 before ... Qc6, so he could recapture with this knight and put pressure on 5. 14... Bred Not only winning a pawn, but also gaining some key squares, for example d5 for the knight. Black’s advantage is already close to decisive, and I won't go into too much detail over the remaining moves. i 15 dxc5 Nd5! 16 Bf2 bxc5 17 Bxc4 17 Bxh7 loses to 17 .., Bxe2 18 Kxe2 g6 19 Bxg6 NA+, 17... Nxe4 18 Qe4 Nde3 ‘The ending is very good for Black despite his extra pawn getting doubled. 19 Qxc6 dxc6 20 Nf4 0-0-0 21 Bxe3 Nxe3 22 Ke2 Ned! Question: 22 ... NdS looked logical too. Why did Black choose 22 ... Ne4? Answer: Black’s knight on c4 hits eS and a3, and is much stronger than its counterpart. A key general point to remember is that, whether Black wins or exchanges White’s c4-pawn, the square it leaves behind tends to become a strong outpost for Black’ pieces, especially a knight. 22.... Nd5 23 Nxd5 cxd5 is obviously good for Black, but not as straightforward as the game. 23 Nd3 RAS 24 £4 Ke7! Excellent technique. Brodsky gradually improves his position and for the moment leaves his knight on the monster c4-square. The immediate 24 ... Nxa3? would carelessly allow White back into the game with 25 c4! Rd4 26 Ral Nxc4 27 Rxa7. 25 Rhfl Rb8 26 Re2 After 26 Rb1 Rbd8 27 Rfill it’s the right time to take on a3: 27 ... Nxa3 28 Ral NbS 29 4 Nc3+ wins. White can temporarily save the a-pawn with 26 a4 but then 26 ... Rb3! leaves him completely tied down, 26 ... Nxa3 27 Ra2 Rb3 28 Rel a5 29 Nb2 c4 30 Ndi NbS The a-pawn can’t be taken because of... Nxc3+. 31 Ra4 Ra3 32 Rxa3 Nxa3 33 Ral Nb5 34 Kel a4 35 Ne3 Exercise: Find the best way to win for Black. 1f35 Rxa4 Black had 35 ... Rxd1+! and 36 ... Nxc3+. Answer: 35 ... Nxc3! Black is not affaid to trade advantages if it means he can win more easily. 35 ... Rd3! 36 Nxc4 Nxc3 was also good enough, but Black had to avoid giving White needless counterplay with 35 ... Rc5? 36 Rxad Nxc3 37 Ra7+. 36 Nxe4 Afier 36 Nxd5+ exd5 White has no chance against a dominant knight and three onrushing queenside pawns, especially since the rook has no way of getting active. For example, 37 Kd2 d4 38 Ke2 Kc6 39 Rfl 23 40 5 exfS 41 Rxf a2 42 Kb2 d3 43 Rfl Nd5 44 Kxa2 Ne3 and 44 ... 2. 36... Rod Winning a third pawn. 37 Nb2 Rxf4 38 Ra3 Re4+ 39 Kf2 Re2+ 40 Kf3 0-1 After 40 ... Rxb2.41 Rxc3 Black wins immediately with 41 ... Rb3! Black wins so many games like this in the Samisch Nimzo-Indian, simply because White doesn’t have to make any obvious-looking mistakes in the opening for it to happen. White makes a few logical developing moves, protects c4 as best he can, and then ... bang! 13 ... Qc6 and Black has a winning position! Game 2 D.Yang-D. Ippolito SPICE Spring Invitational, Lubbock 2010 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 a3 Bxc3+ 5 bxc3 b6 6 £3 Nc6 7 e4 Ba6 8 BgS 8 Bg5 is rich more aggressive than 8 Bd3. Whereas 8 Bd3 prepared defence of the c4-pawn with Qe2, 8 BgS sets up attacking ideas such as e4-e5. With Black’s dark-squared bishop off the board, the pin on the ‘6-knight becomes a major issue for Black to deal with in numerous lines. 8...h6 9 Bhd Of course Black is happy if White releases all the pressure with 9 Bxfb? Qxi8. 9. NaS Ippolito chooses the most direct approach ~ attack c4! Black need not worry about 4-c5, as ... g5 saves the piece. Question: What happens if Black first completes development by castling kingside? Answer: Early kingside castling is usually inadvisable in this line, and certainly in this position! If9 ... 0- 0?! 10 e51 (forcing a weakness) 10 ... g5 11 Bf NhS 12 h4! and Black’s king is stuck on a side he would really rather not be. White obviously enjoys good attacking chances here. A decent alternative to 9 ... Na5 is 9 ... g5 10 B2 Qe7 preparing ... 0-0-0. For example, 11 h4 0-0-0 12 d5!? NaS 13 c5!? Bxfl 14 d6! cxd6 15 cxd6 Qf 16 Kxfl Ne8 17 5 #6! 18 Qd3 Kb7 19 RbI fkeS 20 Qe4+Ne6 21 Bxb6! axb6 22 Qe3 Nxd6 23 Qxb6+ Ka8 24 Qa6+ Na7 25 Rb6 Rb8 (25 ... g4!) 26 Rxd6 4.27 Rxd7 Qc5 with a very complicated position, M.Carlen-P.Leko, Monte Carlo (blindfold) 2007. 10e5 ‘A major alternative here is 10 Qa4, so we should take a closer look at it. Exercise: Weigh up the pros and cons of 10 ... c5 and 10 ... Qe8. ‘Which do you think is the best move? Answer: Black has to continue developing and organizing an attack on c4. We've already scen that ... c5 is a way to do this, but we've also touched upon its weaknesses. If Black plays 10 ... c5 here, White will continue 11 ¢5! g5 (forced) 12 Bf NhS 13 hdl. In the space of a few moves, Black has seriously weakened his dark squares by playing both ... c5 and ... 25. I’mnot saying that this position is necessarily bad for Black, only that it compares unfavourably with, for example, the ... c5 plan seen in our previous game. In practice Black has chosen 10 ... Qe8!. This move is dual-purpose: 1. It takes the sting out of e4-e5 — Black can now simply move the knight rather than play ... g5. 2. It introduces the plan of ... Qb7-c6 which, as we've already seen, can be a very effective idea! Here are a few practical examples: a) Black is not affaid to accept doubled pawns: 11 Bxfb gxf6 12 Nh3 Qb7 13 Qb4?! (13 NB Qc6 14 Qxc6 dxc6 would transpose to note ‘c’) 13 ... Re8 14 Kf2 cS! (an excellent temporary pawn sacrifice, activating Black’s pieces) 15 dxcS Rc8! 16 cxb6 Nxe4 17 Nét (17 bxa7?? Qxa7+ would lead to a quick mate — Rybka says 8 moves!) 17 ... Re6! 18 Bxc4 Rxc4 19 Qb2 axb6 20 Qd2 Qc7 21 g4 5! 22 NhS Ke7 (Blick is already better, but now White blunders) 23 gx? Qc5+! and White resigned in M.Hoffinann- P.Harikrishna, Caleta 2011, in view of 24 Qe3 Rg2+!. b) 11 Bd3 Qb7 (intending ... Qc6!) 12 e5 Nd5! 13 cxdS Bxd3 14 Ral Qa6, P.Rainieri de Luca-V.Vehi Bach, Barcelona 2003. Black hasn’t won the c4-pawn, but once again he controls the key square, and he continued to do so: 15 dxe6 fre6 16 Nb3 g5 17 Bg3 0-0-0 18 Nf Bg6 19 Rcl. Now White threatens c3- cA so Black plays 19 ... Qed! 20 Qxc4 Nxc4 with a slight advantage: he has the stronger minor pieces and pawns. ©) 11 Nh3 might be White’s best option. 11 ... Qb7 and now: cl) 12 NB Qe6 13 Qxe6 (13 Qb4!?) 13 ... dxc6 14 Bxfb gxfb 15 Ng 6 (15 ... Ke7 16 Ne3!) 16 ext exf5 (both sides have weaknesses but I slightly prefer Black here) 17 Ne5 (17 Ne3 #4 18 Ng# 0-0-0 19 0-0- 0 Bxc4 was good for Black in J. Waxman-W.Browne, Fort Worth 1984) 17... 5 18 Ng6 Rg8 19 Nh4 £& 20 K®2 Kd7 21 NB hd 22 Rel Rae8 23 Rxe8 Rxe8 24 Ng7 Rh8 (24 ... Re3!2) 25 g3 Bxc4 26 Bh3+ Ke7 27 gxft Kf? 28 NB Re8 29 Ne3 BbS ¥4-% V.McCambridge-G.Sosonko, New York 1984. 2) 12 d5!? prevents Blick’s ... Qc6 plan, so it must be a consideration. Black needs to avoid what happens in the following game: 12 ... c6 13 Rdl 0-0 14 e5 Nh7 15 Be7 Rfe8 16 d6 Nf 17 Né& c5 18 Bd3 Qc6 19 Qc2! Bxc4 20 Be4 Bb3 21 Qf! QbS 22 Qg3! Budl 23 BR g5 (or 23 ... 96 24 Qh4 KH7 25 Bg5) 24 bd Be2 25 hxgsS and Black resigned in M.Pracejus-P.Ellinger, correspondence 1997, in view of 25 ... Qb1+ 26 Kf2 Qxhl 27 gxh6+ Ng6 28 Nxg6. A crushing kingside attack by White! Black’s long-winded version of the ... Qe6 plan scems to be too slow here, so instead of 13 ... 0-0 I would be much more tempted to open the position with 13 ... xd5! trying to exploit Black’s slight lead in development and the opening of the e-file. Let's retumn to the game and the position after Yang’s more direct 10 e5. 10... g5 The only move. 11 BR 11 ex®5? gxh4 is good for Black, who just follows up with ... Qxi®. 11... NBS! This is stronger than 11 ... Ng8 which is met by 12 Qad! followed by a quick h2-h4. Notice that the pawn on g5 makes ... NhS more attractive ~ with protected and another square available on g7, there’s very little danger of the knight being trapped. 12 b4 Once again 12 Qad to protect 4 is a possibility for White, and here Black has responded with 12 ... BI. Question: What is the point of 12 ... 5? Shouldn't Black just develop, say with 12 ... Qe7 preparing 12... 0-0-0? Answer: Having induced ... g5, White’s main pawn break to gain activity (or counterplay, if we feel that Black is the aggressor!) is h2-h4, releasing the rook on its home square. 12 ... {5 not only gains space on the kingside, it also prepares to meet h4 with ... g4!, seizing more space and blocking in White’s rook, Some examples: a) 13 h4 gl is fine for Black. If 14 fkg4 fig 15 Qc2 Black can sacrifice a pawn: 15 ... Qe7 16 Qe4 Bb7 17 Qxg4 Q{7 followed by ... 0-0-0, ... Rhg8 ete, with tremendous pressure on both sides on the board. b) 13 0-0-0 Qe7 14 bd 0-0-0 (the immediate 14 ... g4! is also good) 15 Ke2 g4! and White is suffering. In the game G-Markzon-G.Kacheishvli, Philadelphia 2010, he tried to mix things up with 16 d5? but Black soon won: 16 ... exd5 17 Rxd5 Bb7 18 Bd4? Ng3! and White resigned. ©) 13 ex Qxf6 reduces White’s centre and activates Black’s queen, and 14 Nh3 N& 15 Nxft gxét is already a bit better for Black. Let’s follow A.Deze-G.Dizdar, Sibenik 1986, for some model play by Black: 16 h4 hS 17 c5 Bxfl 18 Kxfl Re8 19 Rh2 Q6 20 Rdl QdS!. ls £ Question: Why the exclamation mark for 20 ... Qd5? Answer: We saw in our previous game that c4 is a key square, even afier the white pawn has disappeared. Control of this square is vital, and now Black’s knight is able to influence the game with great effect: 21 Rel Nc4 22 Qc2 bxe5 23 Ql oxd4 24 cxd4 RIB 25 Re2 Rb8 26 Kgl Rb3 and Black went on to convert his huge advantage. 12.5 Question: We saw ... 5 in the note above, and it was played so that Black could answer h4 with ... 94. But why here? Isn't it too late for this? Answer: It’s true that Black doesn’t have time for ... g4, but 12 ... 6 still slows down White’s play on the kingside. Or, to put it another way, it allows Black to fight back on that wing. ‘That said, there appears to be little wrong with just taking the c-pawn. After 12 ... Bxe4 13 hxg5 Qxg5 (13 ... bxg52? loses a piece due to the pin, after 14 Bxe4 Nxc4 15 g4) 14 Nh3 Qe7 15 Bxe4 Nxc4 16 gt Ng? 17 Qa4 NaS 18 Nf Black has been driven back and White undoubtedly enjoys some compensation, but i’s probably only enough for the pawn deficit. One interesting line here is 18 ... hS 19 Bh4 hxg4! 20 Bxe7 Rxhl+ 21 K® Rxal 22 Bf Ra2+ 23 Kgl Ral+ 24 K®2 Ra2+ with perpetual check, as given by Gavrikov. Question: Black is always taking on c4 with the bishop rather than the knight. Why is this so’? Answer: Occasionally Black takes on c4 with the knight, but generally the bishop capture is better, for the following reasons: 1 ... Bxc4 usually leads to an exchange of light-squared bishops, removing one of White’s bishop pair and accentuating Black’s control of the light squares, and of c4 in particular; 2. The knight is the piece which benefits most from the c4-outpost, and after an exchange of bishops the cA-square becomes available to the knight; and, perhaps most importantly 3 ... Nxe4 offen puts Black in an awkward self-pin, with the knight being unable to move without exposing the a6-bishop. Expanding on the final point, in this position 12 ... Nxc4? would simply be a blunder. White just responds with 13 Qa4! winning a piece! Let’s return to the position in the game after Ippolito’s 12 ... 5: 13 bxgs This looks the most consistent and logical move, especially since Black is forced to capture with the queen to avoid losing a piece to g2-4. Let’s take a look at a few alternatives: a) 13 exf? Oxi is again too accommodating as it allows Black to develop quickly. Let’s see how chess legend Tigran Petrosian built up a dominating position from here: 14 c5 Bxfl 15 Kxfl g4! (now the rook on hl looks silly) 16 Qd3 0-0 17 Rel Nf 18 Qc2 Ne4 (once more the knight utilizes the c4-square) 19 g3 (19 fxg4 Nd3!) 19 ... QB! 20 Rel (20 QxfS allows a beautifl double-knight mate: 20 ... Nd2 mate!) 20 ... Qd3+ 21 Qxd3 Nxd3 22 Rdl Ndb2 23 Ral gxf3 and Black won easily in V.Simagin-T-Petrosian, Moscow 1950. b) 13 c5 Bxfl 14 Kxfl. Exercise: Can you find how Black can complete his development in an active way? Answer: Black can play 14 ... Qc8!. Now he is ready to play either ... Qb7 or... Qa6+ followed by ... 0-0-0 connecting the rooks. Black quickly gained a decisive advantage in S.Volkov-ILysyj, Tomsk 2006, after 15 Rb1 Qa6+ 16 Qe2? Ne4! 17 Rb4 Ne3+! 18 Kel Nxg2+ — not bad work considering White was a Grandmaster rated over 2600! ‘Abo, the tactics favour Black if White tries anything ambitious: 14 ... Qc8! 15 g4 trg4 16 fxg4 Qb7! 17 Rh2 (or 17 QB Ng3+! 18 Bxg3 Ri) 17 ... Nf 18 hxg5 Ned! and Black, with his queen and monster knights, enjoys a strong initiative. One nice line is 19 gxh6 Qe4 20 Ra2 (20 NB Qxf3!) 20 ... RAB! 21 H7 Ng2! 22 b8Q Nce3+ 23 Ke2 Qxg4+ and mate follows quickly. ©) 13 g3!? is a sneaky move, creating a hidden threat of 14 hxgS Qxg5 15 #1. Black met this in F.Berkes-Z.Almasi, Kazincbarcika 2005, with 13 ... 4! (13 ... Kf? connecting queen and rook so that Black can meet hxgS with ... hxg5 is also possible) and afler 14 hxgS Qxg5 15 Nh3 Qg8! 16 ext (16 g4 is probably better, but Black still has enough counterphay after 16 ... Ng3 17 Bxg3 fxg3, e.g, 18 c5 Bxfl 19 Kal h5) the simple 16 ... Bxe4 17 Bxc4 Nxc4 (Gavrikov) would have been fine for Black. 13 ... Qxg5 14 Nh3 Qg6 15 g4!? After this move, which certainly isn’t the only option, the position gets very complicated with both kings becoming exposed. 15... fxg4 16 Bd3 Forced, as 16 fxg4?? loses to 16 ... Qe4+!. But now Black won’t have to retreat his knight to the miserable g7-square and counterplay on the kingside is assured. 16 ... Qf7 17 fxg4 Nf4! 18 Nxf4 Qxf4 19 Qe2 Inan earlier game White threw in a tempting check, with 19 Bg6+. Exercise: Find the best king move to escape the check. Answer: Black should play 19 ... Kd8! intending to reach safety castling “by hand” with ... Kc8-b7. Remember this idea, as it crops up more than occasionally in Ninzo-Indian Stimisch positions. After 20 Qe2 Kc8 21 Qe3 RIB 22 Qxf Rx® 23 Rxh6 Rxg4 24 c5 Kb7 25 Bc2 RIB Black enjoys a clear advantage, E.Agrest-A.Sokolov, St Petersburg 1993. His pieces are much better coordinated than White’s and of course he also possesses the stronger pawn structure. 19... 0-0! Ippolito boldly plays for the win. Black would ideally lke to castle queenside, but Ippolito was probably concemed about the line 19 ... 0-0-0 20 Be3! Qg3+ 21 BQ! Qé 22 Be3! when he nust either retreat his queen or accept a repetition of moves. 20 Bh4 1f20 g5 Black can ignore the pawn and carry out his threat created by casting: affer 20 ... Bxo4! 21 Bod Nxcd 22 gxh6 Kh7! 23 Rel RB the king is shiclded by the h7-pawn and I fecl that if anyone is better here itis Black. 20 ... Bb7 21 Rg1? Exercise: Find the move which gives Black a decisive advantage. With 21 Rgl White’s eyes widen to the tempting possbiliies on the kingside, but he misses a sucker punch. He needs to accept a slightly worse endgame with 21 Rél Qxfl+ 22 Qxfl Rxfl+ 23 Bxfl. Answer: 21 ... Nb3! A bolt ftom the blue! Of course the rook is threatened, but possibly what Yang overlooked before now was the devastating threat of... Nel. I know ffom painful experience that knight moves to empty squares on the cighth rank are notoriously easy to miss. 22 BI6!? Exercise: Find the cleanest route to victory for Black. 22 Bf is a good swindling attempt, but Ippolito doesn’t fall for it. Alternatives are no better: if 22 Rbl then 22 ... Nel! is immediately winning; on 22 Rdl Black wins material with 22 ... BB!; and 22 Bg3 Qg5 also doesn’t help White. Answer: 22... BI3! Precision play ftom Black, snuffing out any cheapos. 22... Nxal? 23 g5! would allow White right back into the game. 23 Rfl ‘The difference after 23 Qf2 Nxal 24 g5 is that 24 ... Qcl is mate! 23... Bxe2 Winning a piece. The rest is easy for Ippolito. 24 Rxf4 Bxd3 25 Ra2 Rf7 26 Rh2 Rh7 27 Rf3 Bg6 0-1 8 BgS looks like a more challenging move than 8 Bd3. White played much more aggressively in this game than in the previous one and was willng to gambit the c4-pawn in retum for activity. Black could take the pawn on move 12 but Ippolito choice of 12 ... £3, fighting back on the kingside, is another logical way to play it. Game 3 V.Moskalenko-V.Neverov Ukrainian Young Masters, Kharkov 1984 1 c4 e6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Ne3 Bb4 4 a3 Bxc3+ 5 bxc3 b6 ‘Another frequent move order to reach the mainline position is 5... Nc6 6 £8 b6 7 ¢4 Ba6. 6B This is a good place to summarize White’s main alternatives: a) Let’s begin with 6 c3. Question: Isn’t this move a litle slow? If White’s most promising plan is to advance in the centre, surely he should be trying to play €2-e4 in one go? Answer: It would make sense, but actually it’s not quite a simplistic as that. For example, let’s see what might happen if Black continues with the normal plan: 6 ... Ba6 7 Bd3! Nc6 8 e4 NaS and we have reached a familiar position (from Game 1) except White’s &pawn is back on 2 rather than B. Paradoxically, this “missing” tempo actually favours White, because after 9 e5! Ng8 there’s no pawn to block the queen, and 10 Qg4! is strong. Blick is forced to make an undesirable concession here with either 10 ... Ki8 or 10 ... g6. It’s worth remembering that the role of f2-f3 is to force through e2-e4, but the pawn itself is of limited value on f3 and sometimes even a hindrance! In view of this variation, Black’s most accurate move is probably 6 ... Bb7 and after 7 8 Nc6 8 e4 he could just play 8 ... Ba6 reaching our main line with both sides having played an extra move to get there. There are other options too; for example, 8 ... d6 (or 8 ... NaS) 9 Bd3 NaS 10 Ne2 (10 Nh3!?; 10 Bg5!2) 10 ... Qd7 11 0-0 Ba6 12 Ng3 Bxc4 13 Bxc4 Nxcd 14 Qe2 Qc6 and White had no real play for the missing pawn in S.Gligoric-P Keres, Zitich 1953. Question: What happens after 6 ... Bb7 if White develops with 7 NB? Answer: In general Nf3 and the pure Stimisch don’t mix very well, as the knight is not in a good position to aid the e4 advance. Here this is especially so, since Black can take a grip of the e4-square very quickly. Afier 7 ... Ne4! 8 Bd3 5 9 Qc2 0-0 10 0-0, Black has a firm grip of the position and is at east equal It’s worth pointing out that this resembles another Nimzo-Indian line, 1 d4 Nf® 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 €3 b6 5 Bd3 Bb7 6 NB Ne4 7 Qc? 5 8 0-0 Bxc3 9 bxc3 0-0 but here Black is a tempo up since White has “wasted” a move on a2-a3. 10 ... d6 intending ... Nd7 would be fine, but in K.Borsuk-Y.Kuzubov, Kramatorsk 2001, Black was rewarded affer some ambitious play: 10 ... Rf6!? 11 N42 Rh6! 12 £ Qh4! 13 fked Qxh2+ 14 KA Rg6 15 Kel Rxg2 16 Qb1? (after 16 exf Black has perpetual check, but not necessarily anything better) 16 ... Qh4+ 17 Kdl Qedt 18 Kel fxo4 19 a4 exd3 20 Qxd3 Ne6 21 Ba3 e5 22 d5 04 0-1 b) 6 Bg is obviously a usefil move to play if White doesn’t yet want to commit in the centre. ‘Transpositions are possible; for example, 6 ... h6 7 Bh4 Nc6 8 8 Ba6 9 e4 reaches Yang-Ippolito (Game 2). Question: What about 8 NB in this position, instead of 8 8? Answer: The development with NB is more favourable here than it was above (although that’s hardly a compliment!). The key differences here are: 1. White’s dark-squared bishop is more actively placed; and 2. Black cannot get a firm grip of the e4-square. Nevertheless, Black has nothing to fear, as long as he remains a little flexible: I feel that a good continuation here is 8 ... Bb7! (it’s time to postpone the plan ofhitting c4, since if 8 ... Ba6 then 9 Nd2! is a good answer — the knight is well placed on d2 against this plan, protecting c4 and covering e4 too) 9 Nd2 Qe7 10 3 g5 11 Bg3 d6 12 h4 0-0-0 13 Be2 Nd7 14 Nb3 6 with a complex position in which Black’s kingside activity means he is by no means worse, E.Bacrot-M.Carken, Baku 2008. I should note that this game arose via another variation: 1 d4 Ni 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 NB b6 (4 ... c5 is covered in Chapter 8) 5 BgS Bb7 6 Nd2 h6 7 Bh4 No6 8 a3 (8 €3 is more usual) 8 ... Bxc3 9 bxc3. ©) Finally, I should briefly mention the rare try 6 e4!? which isn’t a true gambit since 6 ... Nxe4 7 Qpt regains the pawn. Here I feel Black should follow 7 ... Bb7 8 Qxg7 Qf 9 Qxf Nxfb with a decent position, R.Schlehoefer-I. Varasdy, Dortrmnd 1987. Certainly Black should take the centre pawn otherwise White would be getting away with not having to prepare 04. Now ket’s return to the main line, 6 3. 6... Ba6 7 4 Ne6 8 e5 a £ Exercise: Black must make a farniliar decision. Should the knight advance to h5 or retreat to g8? We've previously considered both 8 Bd3 and 8 Bg5 for White. Here Moskalenko chooses the most forcing move, 8 ¢5. Answer: 8 .. Ng8! 8 ... NhS? is inadvisable on this occasion as the knight lacks stability. White replies 9 Nh3!, taking measures against ... Qh4+, and Black is actually struggling to find a good answer to the threat of 10 e4 winning the knight. 9... doesn’t help in view of 10 Bg5!. ONhb3! Question: Why the exclamation mark for this move? Answer: The h3-square is an excellent stepping stone for the knight. From here it can: 1. Advance aggressively to g5, where it hits 7 and also eyes the e4-outpost; 2. Retreat to 2, again eyeing e4. 3. Move to ft and then possibly h5; and 4. Support BgS. Instead 9 Bd3 would transpose to Labensky-Brodsky (Game 1) after 9 ... NaS. 9... NaS 10 Qad 10 BgS can be met by 10 ... #8. Then 11 Bh4 Qe7 (or 11 ... Bxc4 12 Bxe4 Nxc4 13 Qe2 b5 14 0-0 with some compensation for White) 12 £4 (12 Qa4!?) 12 ... Qf7! (to make way for ... Ne7) 13 Nf Ne7 14 exf6 NBS! was a strong pawn sacrifice in F Liardet-A.Sokolov, Geneva 1996. Affer 15 fxg7 Qxg7 16 BgS h6 17 Qh5+ Qf7! 18 Be2 0-0! 19 Qxf7+ Rxf7 20 BhS hxg5 21 Bxf7+ Kxf7 22 fxe5 Nxc4 Black was in compkete control 10 ... Qh4+!? Question: Why did Neverov play this check? What does it achieve? Answer: 10 ... Qh4+ is quite a clever “spoiling” move, White can deal with the check in a number of ways, but each one has to accept a small concession. There’s a bit of risk involved for Black because on occasions the queen doesn’t have many squares available, but luckily there always seems to be at least one good one! 10 ... Ne7 is the most common choice, and this can lead to very sharp positions. Two examples: a) 11 Bd3 0-0 (11 ... h6 is also possible) 12 BgS (Milov suggests the unclear sacrifice 12 NgS h6 13 NH7!? Re8 14 Bxh6!2) 12 ... h6 13 Bhd dS 14 Bbl g5 15 Qc2 Ng6 16 Nf4!! exh4 17 Nxg6 Re8 18 Nk8! Jed to a famous win for White in A.Kotov-P.Keres, Budapest 1950. However, there are some significant defensive resources in this line. One key improvement is 13 ... Qe8! (instead of 13 ... d5) 14 Bol dé! 15 Qc2 Ng6, as indicated by Knaak, when White’s attack looks like it will simply fall flat. b) 11 Ng5 hé (I feel that 11 ... 0-0 is riskier this time, because of 12 Qc2!) 12 Ne4 0-0 13 BE NBS (the sneaky 13 ... Qe8!? is again interesting, intending ... d5 against most things, including 14 Bxh6 d5!) 14 h4!? (intending g4 without allowing ... Qh4+) 14 ... d5! 15 exd5 (if 15 exd6 cxd6 and ... Rc8 or ... d5 is coming) 5 ... Bxfl 16 Kxfl exd5 17 p4!? Ne7! (Black must avoid 17 ... Nxh4 because of 18 Nfé+! gxff 19 Rxh4 fke5 20 Rxh6 ext 21 Qc2 5 22 gxfS with a very strong attack) 18 Ng3 Ng6 19 Bel f6! and Black gains good counterplay, M.Sharif.J.Sampouw, Jakarta 1978. Let’s return to 10 ... Qh4+: 11g3 Against 11 Nf2 I feel that Black’s most consistent follow-up is 11 ... £5, when both 12 exf6 Nxf® 13 Bd3 0-0 14 0-0 and 12 g3 QhS 13 Be2 fke5 14 & Qg6 15 tkeS Ne7 offer level chances. 11... Qhs! Black’s queen could also retreat to ¢7 satisfied with weakening £3, but Neverov’s more ambitious 11 ... QhS seems justified especially with White’s queen absent from dl. 2kR Ofcourse White must avoid 12 £7? Qf! when he loses one of his rooks! Let’s look at 12 Bg2: Exercise: Can Black capture on c4? Try to calculate the consequences. Answer: This is a line where Black’s queen seems to lead a charmed life, and comes out unscathed at the other end: 12... Bxed! 13 N&t QB 14 Bh3 (or 14 g4 Qg5! 15 h4 Qe7) and now 14 ... Bb3! and Black is slightly better at least. Black has to sce up to 14 ... Bb3 before he plays 12 ... Bxc4. 12... f61 With White’s king on 12, opening the ffile is obviously a promising plan. 13 Nf4 QF7 14 Bd3?! After this move White is actually in some trouble, although it does take some excellent play by Neverov to show us why. White would be better off moving the bishop to 2, supporting B, or keeping it on fl. 14 d5!? tries to seize the initiative and is certainly worthy of attention. For example, 14 ... 0-0-0 15 Bh3 Bxc4!? (15... £5 and 15 ... Re8 are alternatives) 16 Nxe6! (if 16 dxe6 dxe6 17 Qxc4 Nxc4 18 Bxe6+ Qxe6 19 Nxe6 Rd7 20 exf Nxf and Black is slightly better) 16 ... Re8 17 Nc5! RxeS! 18 Bxd7+ (18 Nxd7? Re2+ 19 Kgl 65! is winning for Black) 18 ... Kb8 19 Be6 ¥4-14, I.Golyak-M.Nizynski, correspondence 1995. A very interesting miniature, with a draw agreed here on account of 19 ... Re2+ 20 Kgl Rel+ 21 Kg2 Re2+ with perpetual check. 14.... fxe5 15 dxe5 g5! This is a very strong move, perhaps somewhat surprisingly so because you would expect Black to develop further before making this hinge. In fact its advance is perfectly timed. There’s nothing at all wrong with 15 ... Ne7 but White would at least have the opportunity to secure the knight on #4 with 16 h4!. 16 Nk3 DE Exercise: Black bas a decision to make. Should he exploit the f-file pin with 16 ... g4 or protect the pawn with 16 ... h6? White would no doubt prefer the knight on e2 rather than b3, but 16 Ne2? Bb7! demonstrates why 15 ... 5 was so strong. To defend the £8-pawn White would have to tie himself up in knots with 17 Ngl since 17 Nd4 is met by 17... ¢51. Answer: 16. h6! Excellent controlled ply by Neverov. The knight is sidelined on 13 and will find it difficult to rejoin the action by normal means. Neverov realizes that this advantage in itselfis very significant. The impatient 16 ... 24? just allows the knight right back into the game, and after 17 NgS Qe7 18 Be3 T’'meven beginning to favour White. 17 Bxg5!? This sacrifice has a desperate feel to it, but actually it comes very close to working, only really failing because of brillant move by Neverov later on. The problem for White is that quiet play is not good enough. For example, 17 Rfl Ne7 18 Kgl Bb7 and White’s knight is still a poor piece. Meanwhile, Black has a very easy plan of action with .. 0-0-0, ... RB, ... Ng6 etc. 17... hxgS 18 Nxg5 Qe7! Black has to allow the check, since 18 ... Qg7? runs into 19 Nxe6!. 19 Bg6+ Kf8 20 Nf7 Exercise: Try to work out Black’s best move. (Warning: difficult!) After 20 Nf7 Black must retum some of his material advantage because the h8-rook has no safe square. It’s just a question of how much ... ‘Answer: 20... RhA!! This is an amazing response, leading to a large or possibly even decisive advantage for Black. 20 ... Rh6 21 Nxh6 Nxh6 is less convincing, and looks roughly equal. 21 Radi This move loses without a fight. It's remarkable how non-threatening White’s bishop and knight are, despite being in the immediate vicinity of Black’s king. If White takes the rook Black suddenly gets a strong attack on White’s bare king. Nevertheless, this is probably what White should try, because Black has virtually no chance of going wrong in the game. 21 gxh4 Qxh4+ and now: a) 22 Kg? Bb7! (threatening ... Qg4+) 23 Bed (if23 h3 Nxc4! with a very nasty ... Ne3+ threat) 23 ... Bxed 24 fred Qxed+ and Black’s attack remains strong whatever White does with his king. b) 22 Kgl Ne7! 23 Qxd7 (23 Be4 Re8 leaves the knight stranded) 23 ... Nxg6 24 Qxe6 N& 25 Qh6+ Qxh6 26 Nxh6 Nxc4 27 Ng# Rd8. The material count is roughly level, but Black’s pieces dominate and White would do very well to survive this position. 21... Rxed! Why not? 22 Qxd7 Qxd7 23 Rxd7 BbS! 24 Rad If White tries to keep the rook with 24 Rd2 he loses further material after 24 ... Ne7 25 BhS Be8!. 24 ... Ne6 25 Rxe4 Bxc4 26 Rdl Nge7 27 BhS Na5 A piece for two pawns ahead, Black is easily wining, Neverov doesn’t become distracted from the ‘winning plan of creating a passed pawn on the queenside. 28 f4 Ke7 29 Kgl b5! Not filling for 29 ... Nxc3? 30 Rel!. 30 Ng5 Nxc3 31 Rel Nd5 32 Bg4 Nd4 33 Kf2 Nb6 34 h4 a5 35 Ne4 a4 36 h5 Nb3 37 Rhl b4! 38 axb4 a3 39 Nc5 Nxc5 40 bxc5 Nd7 41 Bf3 Rb8 42 Ke3 a2 43 h6 Rbi 44 h7 a1Q 45 Rxbl Qc3+ 0-1 Black wins affer 45 ... Qe3+ 46 Kf Qc2+! 47 Ke3 Qxh7. A very entertaining game, briliantly played by Neverov. I feel that his choice of 10 ... Qh4+ is a good alternative to the usual plan with 10 ... Ne7. The Delayed Samisch: 4 €3 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 White certainly doesn’t have to play a2-a3 as carly as the fourth move, and many Stmisch players will sneakily delay it a move or two, waiting for Black to show his hand. In this section we will look at the move order 4 ¢3 0-0 5 a3, while in the next chapter we'll cover 4 8 0-0 5 a3. 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 06 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 Ease =F Rit 27 tit 4 €3 (the Rubinstein Variation) is one of While’s most popular replies to the Nimzo-Indian, and is covered in Chapters 3-4. Here, though, White is only using it as a means to transpose to the Sémisch. 44.00 Question: Could Black anticipate a Samisch and play 4 ... b6 here? Then 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 would lead us back to our previous games. Answer: Yes he could, but White doesn’t have to play ball Instead he could carry on developing with 5 a3 or play 5 Nge2 so that he is ready to recapture on c3 with the knight and avoid the dreaded doubled pawns. None of this means that 4 ... b6 is a bad move — in fact, it’s a perfectly viable line for Black against 4 ¢3. In this book, though, I’m focussing on the main move, 4 ... 0-0. 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 b6 6 ... c5 7 Bd3 Nc6 8 Ne2 b6 is considered by most sources to be the main line, but 6 ... b6 has scored well for Black and has been the choice of many strong grandmasters. Clearly there are similarities between this line and 4 a3 Bxc3+ 5 bxc3 b6, but there are also two key differences: 1. Because White has played ¢2-e3 — instead of f2-B and ¢2-c4 — his progress advancing in the centre is delayed. 2. Black is already committed to castling kingside, something he usually delays or even avoids in the 4 a3 Bxc3+ 5 bxc3 bé line. Let’s try to work out how these differences influence events in the next few moves. 7 Bas eB abe ae. Exercise: Where should Black develop his bishop: a6 or b7? After 7 Bd3 White is ready to play e3-e4. As we've already seen, if White has already played 2-3, Ba3 is usually a better choice than f2-f3 to prepare the e-pawn’s advance. If7 87! Ba6! 8 e4 Ne& 9 Bd3 White really would be a whole tempo down on a typical Ninwo-Indian line. Normally it’s White to play here after 1 d4 Nf 2 4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 £3 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Ne8 7 4 b6 8 Bd3 Ba6, a line we will study in Chapter 2. Answer: 7 ... Bb7! ‘As we saw in the notes to Moskalenko-Neverov (Game 3), if White chooses ¢3 and Bd3 instead of £3 and e4, a certain amount of flexibility is beneficial to Black, In the long run the bishop may end up on a6. However, for the moment on b7 it prevents e4 for at least one firther move and it forces White to act over the threat of ... Bxg2. Question: But what is wrong with the immediate plan of.... Ba6 and ... Nc6-a5? Answer: Let’s see: 7 ... Ba6?! 8 4 Ne6 9 NB! Ne8 10 Qe2 NaS 11 eS. EE WAEe t at (tit Compared to the normal Samisch set-up, White has been able to develop much more aggressively, with the knight on its most active square (instead of a pawn!). This means there is much greater danger to Black’s kingside than normal. Indeed, there is already a significant threat, which Black failed to spot in the following game: 11 ... 45? (11 ... h6 should be played) 12 Bxh7+! (a classic Greek Gift sacrifice — this works because a knight is on 8 rather than a pawn) 12... Kxh7 13 Ng5+Kg6 (or 13 ... Kg8 14 QhS and Black must give up his queen) 14 hd! Qe7 15 h5+ Kh6 16 Qd3! Qxg5 (if 16 ... Rh8 17 Nxf7 mate) 17 Bxg5+ Kxg5 18 Qc3+ Kg4 19 B+ with mate next move, Y.Kumbov-L.Koerhol, Ohrid 2009. Overall, Black should be ‘trying to prevent White ftom achieving this fivourable set-up. 8B Blocking the bishop’s diagonal with the pawn is White’s most common choice here, and now €3-e4 is back on the cards. It’s worth noting that if'Black later plays ... Ba6 we transpose to a mainline position, with both sides having played one extra move (¢2-e3-e4 for White and ... Bc8-b7-a6 for Black), and indeed this line is covered in the next chapter. Alternatively: a) We've already seen ftom the previous game that Black is happy to meet 8 NB, especially afler 8 ... Ned! 9 Qc2 5! clamping down on the e4-square. b) 8 Ne2!? is a rare but very interesting gambit. Question: Should Black accept the pawn offer? Answer: | feel that he should, for the following reasons: 1. White definitely gains some compensation (c.g. open g-file, time) but this is definitely a “real sacrifice”, and as such there’s a degree of speculation. 2. Just as importantly, if Black declines to take the pawn he accepts a concession in that White will most likely be able to achieve e4 without having to play B (c.g. afier 8 ... Nob 9 e4). So the critical test is 8 ... Bxg2 9 Rgl. Here are some examples from games: a) 9 ... Bed (it makes sense to trim White’s attacking potential by exchanging a pair of bishops) 10 Ng3 Bxd3 11 Qxd3 Ne6 12 4 Ne8 13 h4 5 14 Ra2 Kh8 15 B Qe7 16 Rag? Qf7 17 Ne2 NaS was P.Eljanov- V.Chuchelov, Dresden 2007. Clearly White’s active pieces equate to reasonable compensation; but Black's position looks resilient, g7 is well protected, he has no obvious weaknesses and of course has the extra pawn! b)9 ... BB 10 Rg3 Be4 (a subtlety rather than a wasted tempo; with the rook on g3 White’s knight can’t use that square) 11 18 Bg6!?. This bishop retreat is more challenging than exchanging on d3 — Black blocks the g-file and any exchange on g6 would block it further: 12 e4 NhS (12 ... Nc6!?) 13 Rg2 (Richard Palliser gives 13 Rh3 15 14 5 d6 “when Black has two minor pieces stranded on the kingside, but also some counterplay against White’s centre”) 13 ... d5 14 BgS Qd7 15 Qb3 dxe4 16 Bxe4 Ne6 17 Qa4 Bxe4 18 fied 16 19 Be3 NeS! and by this stage all of White’s compensation had fizded out in H.Ganaus-L-Lenic, Sarajevo 2010. No doubt there are possible improvements for both sides in these lines, but I stil feel Black should take the pawn on g2 and force White to show what he’s got. Let's return to the position after White’s usual choice, 8 13: ay Fe titt £41 ft 918 & 8... Ne6 It’s back to our Plan A: ... Ne6-a5 and probably ... Ba6 too. Black does have a sensible alternative in 8 ... cS 9 Ne2 Nc6 and I'll refer the reader to Dangerous Weapons: the Nimzo-Indian for coverage. I will just reproduce, without notes, the game E,Gellet-M.Fuwe, Ziirich 1953, which is one of the classic Nimzo-Indian encounters everyone should be aware of 10 e4 Ne8 11 0-0 NaS 12 Ng3 cxd4 13 cxd4 ReB 14 £1 Nxcd 15 6 16 16 RE b5 17 Rh4 Qb6 18 e5 Nxe5 19 fke6 Nxd3 20 Qxd3 Qxe6 21 Qxh7+ K£7 22 Bh6 Rh8 (yes, Euwe really did play this move!) 23 Qxh8 Re2 24 Rel Rxg2+ 25 Kfl Qb3 26 Kel QB and Geller resigned. IfBlack wants to try a différent plan then 8 ... NhS!? looks like a reasonable move here. For example, 9 Nb3 Qh4+ 10 Nf2 65! 11 0-0 Ne6 12 Qc2 (L.Pohugaevsky-L.Alster, Marianske Lazne 1959) and now 12 ... Ne7 and Black can play on the kingside. 9e4 Exercise: Black carries out a key Nimzo-Indian Samisch idea here ‘Try to figure out what this might be. (Hint: There have already been a few examples of the idea in the notes, but I’ve deliberately glossed over it so far!) Answer: 9... Ne8! The knight’s unprovoked retreat to e8 is a vital prophylactic idea which arises in many similar Simisch positions, and it’s one that must certainly be remembered. Once White achieves €3-e4 the possibilty of Bg5 opens up, and we've already seen that the pin on the 5-knight is especially awkward if Black has already castled kingside. If Black ignores this threat he could easily land himself in hot water. For example, 9 ... Na5 10 Bg5! h6 11 Bh4 Ba6 (11 ... g5 12 BQ breaks the pin but leaves the kingside weakened) 12 f and the threat of eS is looming. This is definitely something Black should do his best to avoid. 9 ... Ne8! prevents the pin, but it also possesses other qualities: 1. The sting is drawn ffom e4-e5, as it no longer arrives with a threat. 2. The knight might later go to d6, where it increases the pressure on the c4 weakness. 3. Black’s fpawn is ffee to advance, either to hold up White’s attack or to strike in the centre with ... . Allin all, not a bad return for one litle knight retreat! 10 Nh3! We saw in the Moskalenko-Neverov game that the h3-square is a more active base for the knight than 2. 10... Na5!? 10 ... Ba6 transposes to the 4 8 chapter (4 ... 0-0 5 23 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Ne8 7 e4 b6 8 Bd3 Ba6 9 Nh3 Nc6) with both sides having played an extra move. 10 ... NaS keeps White guessing for a move or two longer, but a transposition is still likely. For example: Ez wae £ATT 212 ‘Se a) 11 0-0 Ba6 transposes to the 4 £3 chapter, and Topalov-Leko (Game 6). b) 11 5 Qh4+ (Black should probably avoid 11 ... Ba6 12 Ng5) 12 Nf2. Here both 12 ... d6 and 12... 15 look reasonable, but best of all might be 12 ... Ba6 13 Qe2 c5 again transposing to the 4 3 chapter (Miedema-Kulaots, Game 4). Key Notes 1. A swift attack on the c4-pawn is a major plan for Black in the Stmisch. The most direct way to start the attack is by ... b6, ... Ba6 and ... Nc6-a5. Further pressure can often be applied by ... Qd7-a4 (after ... d6), or by... ¢5 followed by ... Rc8 or ... Qc7. 2. Both players should recognize that the Saimisch is basically a type of a gambit. White accepts a major weakness in his pawn structure, leading to a possible loss of a pawn, in retum for advantages such as an imposing pawn centre. Those playing Black must recognize that capturing the c4-pawn is sometimes only the beginning of the battle, Equally, White players must realize that it’s often unwise to grimly hang on to the c4- pawn, especially at the expense of active possibilities elsewhere (see Game 1, for example). 3. If Black wins the c4-pawn, or even ifit is exchanged, aflerwards the c4-square frequently becomes a vital outpost. It can be a particular effective outpost for a black knight (see Game 1). 4, Black must be ready to meet an early attack on the #5-knight with e4-e5 when, depending on the specific circumstances, the knight goes to either g8 or h5. In Games 1 and 3, the best option was back to g8, whereas in Game 2 it was to h5. 5. Due to the absence of Black’s dark-squared bishop, Bg5 becomes an important idea for White, especially in conjunction with 4-e5. Black often combats this with either ... h6 and ... g5 or by breaking the pin with ... Qc8 (which also intends ... Qb7-c6). In view of the potential danger caused by BgS, Black usually delays castling kingside and often avoids it alogether. 6. In the delayed Samisch with 4 €3 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3, Black’s king is already committed to the kingside. To combat the threat of BgS after €3-e4, Black plays the key move ... Ne8! which prevents the pin, draws the sting fom the e5 advance and also allows the knight the possibilty to join the attack on c4 via d6 Chapter Two The 4 f3 Variation Hase@ Fi aitaiie int (ta 4 B is another principled response to the Nimzo. White is simply continuing the battle which began at move 1. White has been trying to play ¢2-e4 and Black has been preventing it, first with 1 ... Nf and then ith 3 ... Bb4. After 4 White is again ready to play e2-e4. The 4 8 Variation is very similar to the Simisch Variation, and indeed there are transpositional possibilities because in most 4 lines White plays a2-a3 more or less straightaway. For this reason I felt that the Stimisch and 4 8 chapters should run consecutively. However, if you feel you need a break from Saimisch doubled c-pawn positions, you might wish to skip this chapter for the moment, move on to the next one, and then come back to it later. Black’s three main choices here are 4 ... d5, 4 ... c5 and 4 ... 0-0. In this book I’ve chosen to focus on 4 +» 0-0, partly because it mirrors Black’s approach against 4 a3 — carly pressure against the c4-pawn, White either transposes back to the Stimisch with 5 a3 or occupies the centre immediately with 5 e4. We shall study 5 3 first and then move on to 5 e4. White plays 5 a3 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 £3 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 With 5 a3 White transposes back into the Stimisch Variation. Once again I’m going to focus on the direct and quite natural ... b6, ... Ba6, ... Ne6-a5 approach by Black. However, because Black has already castled, some extra care with the move order is required. I won't give anything else away — let’s move on to the next game! Game 4 R.Miedema-K.Kulaots Cappelle la Grande 2008 1 d4 NIG 2 c4 €6 3 Ne3 Bb4 413 Note that the actual move order of the game was 4 a3 Bxc3+ 5 bxc3 b6 6 B 0-0 7 ed Ne8 8 Bd3 Bas 9 Nb3 No6 10 Qe2 NaS 11 e5 Qh4+ 12 NQ2, but I’ve adjusted it in order to consider other possibilities more conveniently. 4... 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Ne8 Question: | realize ... Ne8 is a key ica in the Samisch, but it looks a bit strange to play it so early. Couldn't Black at least delay it for a move or two? Answer: If Black’s plan involves ... Ne8, then playing it as early as this is probably the most accurate. I don’t feel that he can gain anything by delaying it, and it seems sensible to eliminate having to deal with, say, 6 ... 66 7 Bg5!?. Ofcourse Black has other ways to play, and 6 ... NhS 7 Nh3 f5 is a reasonable alternative. Ted b6 8 Bd3 8 Nh3 should probably transpose after 8 ... Ba6 9 Bd3 or 8 ... Ba6 9 e5 Nc6 10 Bd3. 8... Baé Hopefilly readers should know by now why 8 ... Bb7?! is not the best move here. There’s nothing wrong with 8 ... Ne6, though, as Jong as it’s followed up by... Ba6. 9 NIB Alternatives are covered next game. 9. Ne6 10 €5 10 0-0 NaS 11 Qe2 (or 10 Qe2 NaS 11 0-0) is covered in Topalov-Leko (Game 6). 10... Qh4+ Question: Why did Kukots throw in this check? Answer: Just as in Moskalenko-Neverov (Game 3), the queen check acts as a “spoiler”, aiming to slow down White’s play on the kingside. After 11 Nf2 the knight — temporarily at least — is less actively placed, with Bg5 and Ng5 no longer possible straight away. Black may have to move the queen again later on, but his argument is that this time is worth spending. The main alternative is 10... NaS when 11 Qe2 f6 (11 ... Qh4+ is still possible) 12 0-0 again reaches the main line, and Topalov-Leko (Game 6). However, White has a very interesting and dangerous alternative in 11 Ng5!? 5 (11... h6? 12 Nh7 traps the rook) 12 f4!? h6. At first sight there seems to be no point to White’s play. The knight retreats, Black takes on c4 and then what? However, sacrificing a piece with 13 Qh5! has produced two wins for White in grandmaster games: 13 ... bag 14 fxg5 g6 (otherwise White plays g6) 15 Qxg6+ Ng7 16 Qh6 Qe7 17 g6 Ne8 18 0-0 Qe7 19 Qg5 Nf (or 19 ... Nb3 20 RB!? Nxal 21 Rh3 Nf® 22 Rh6 Bb7 23 BE d6 24 h4 Bc6 25 exf Qxfb 26 Qg3 Be8 27 h5 Nb3 28 Rh7 1-0, F.Berkes-ILLysyj, Martuni 2009) 20 RB Bxc4 21 BE Nd5 22 Bxc4 Nxc4 23 Rh3 NxP# 24 Qué d6 25 Qg5 dxeS 26 Rh7 Qf 27 QhS Rac8 28 g7 Qxg7 29 Rxg?+ Kxg7 30 Qe2 and White won in M.Ulibin-M.Palac, Zagreb 2010. Initially | thought Black could just ignore the offer and play 13 ... Bxc4, but now I feel that White’s attack is dangerous here as welt: 14 Bxc4 Nxc4 15 hd! Qc8 (or 15... c5 16 Qg6 hxg5 17 hxg5 R&T 18 Qh7+ KB 19 g6) 16 Qg6! bxg5 17 hxgs Qb7 (Black’s only chance is to counterattack, otherwise Qh5 is decisive) 18 KQ2 Qed 19 Ra2 Qb1 20 Re2 Ned6! 21 exd6 Nxd6 22 RH7 RET 23 QhS KiB 24 Bd2 Ne4+ 25 Rxo4 Ques 26 g6 Qe2 27 Qe2! and White is probably winning. Ofcourse these games and the above analysis might just be the just the tip of the iceberg, No doubt there are improvements lurking for both sides, and in such a complicated line it’s incredibly difficult to assess the positions with any certainty. I’llIeave it up to readers who want to try this line to delve further into it. Let’s return to Kukiots’ choice of 10 ... Qh4+ which on reflection does look a whole lot safer! 11NR I can’t believe 11 Kfl is a serious attempt by White. I would very tempted here to break with 11 ... . 11... Na5!? ‘As an alternative to ganging up on c4, the plan with 11 ... looks decent. Two examples: a) 12 & fke5 13 g3 Qe7 14 tkeS NaS 15 Qe2 (15 Qg4!?) 15 ... dS 16 Qc2 h6 17 Bh7+ Kh8 18 cxd5 exd3 with a roughly equal position, E.Ovod-T.Kosintseva, Moscow 2007. b) 12 ext Nxi6 13 0-0 NaS 14 Rel!? and here I feel that Black can safely grab the pawn with 14 ... Bred! (14... d6 15 Nh3! Bxo4 16 Bxcd Nxc4 17 Qe2 d5 18 Qxe6+ Kh8 19 BgS was better for White in E.Barkovsky-A.Hermiin, correspondence 1986). Yakovich gives 15 ReS which threatens 16 g3 and 16 Bg5, but 15 ... Nd5! seems to be a more than adequate answer according to Rybka. The key point is that the discovered attack with 16 BgS Qh5 17 Be7 is effectively met by 17... RS! 18 BxiS ext when if anything Black is better because of his excellent minor pieces and White’s awkwardly placed bishop. 12 Qe2 51? Ambitious, direct play — Black makes c4 the focus. Question: What happens on 13 dxc5? Does Black play 13 ... bxc5 or 13 ... Bxo4? Answer: 13 ... bxc5 is okay, 13 ... Bxc4 is better, but strongest is neither of these. Remember the little trick 13 ... Nb3! that we've scen before? 14 Rb1 NxcS regains the pawn with a clear positional advantage. Now that the queen no longer protects b3, another possbilty for Black was to get rid of White’s bishop pair with 12 ... Nb3 (instead of 12 ... c5) 13 Rb1 Nxcl 14 Rxcl. 13 g3 Exercise: Black must make a decision. Should the queen retreat back to base or try to remain active on hS? With 13 g3 White forces the queen away, but this comes at a price of slightly weakening the light squares. This may not seem significant at the moment, but just check out what happens later on! Answer: 13 .. Qd8! ‘An excellent decision by Kulaots. The queen has done her job on the kingside and is now urgently required elsewhere, helping Black to battle in the centre and against 4, We saw a suecessfil ... QhS in Moskalenko-Neverov (Game 3), but in that game White’s queen was on a4 and rather neglecting the kingside. Here things are different, and afler 13 ... QhS I would be worried that Black’s queen might act as a hook for any kingside attack by White, for example 14 h4!? 5 15 4. It should be noted that 13 ... Qe7!? is actually possible too. 14 Qeé threatens mate and the rook, but doesn’t win because of 14 ... £5! 15 Qxa8 Nc6! followed by ... Nc7 winning the queen for two rooks. 14 Be3?! Too passive! Miedema protects against the idea of ... cxd4 followed by ... Nb3, hitting al and d4, but there are better options. For a start White can afford the time to castle here. 14 0-0 cxd4 15 cxd4 Nb3 isn’t actually a threat, because 16 Rb1 Nxd4? fails to 17 Qe4 NB 18 g4. White could also consider something like 14 Ne4!? cxd4 15 BgS with unclear play after either 15 ... 1 16 exf® gxfb 17 Bh6 Rf7 18 0-0 or 15 ... Qc7!? 16 Be7 dxc3 17 Bxf® Kxf8. In the Samisch Ninwo-Indian White must always be looking to play as actively as possible, even ifthis means sacrificing pawns. We mustn’t forget that the Stimisch is basically a gambit. 14... exdd In this case it’s wise to exchange pawns before playing ... Rc8. Affer 14 ... Re8 15 dxcS! the idea of 15 ... Nb3? doesn’t work because of 16 Bxh7+! Kxh7 17 Qc2+. 15 cxd4 Re8 16 Rel Exercise: How does Black improve his position? Find a good plan for him. Answer: 16 .. a5! ‘An excelent move and another important idea in the Samisch. Black doesn't have quite enough ammunition to win the pawn on c4 since White can always respond with c5 if Black plays ... Qc7, but he does have enough ammunition to win the c4-square. 17 cS! The best bet. After 17 exd6?! Nxd6 White’s c-pawn is under tremendous pressure, and if 18 c5 there follows 18 ... Bxd3 19 Qxd3 NB with a very strong position for Black, e.g. 20 cxb6 Rxcl+ 21 Bxcl axb6 22 Bb2 Qd5 or 20 Ne4 bxc5 21 Nxe5 Nc6. Blak also gets a good position after 17 cxd5 Rxcl+ 18 Bxcl Bxd3 19 Nxd3 QxdS, again with pressure against d4 and with ideas of... Ne4 and ... Ne7-b5. 17... Bxd3 18 Nxd3 Ne4 Black has secured the c4-square and enjoys a slight advantage. The next step is to activate his queen and the knight on e8. 19 0-0 Qa7 19 ... Nc7 is perhaps a more accurate move order, as then 20 Nb2 can be answered simply by 20 ... Nxa3! (compare the next note). 20 cxb6 White could have equalized by challenging the c4-knight with 20 Nb2! since 20 ... Nxa3?! (20 ... Nxe3 21 Qxe3 or 20 ... Nxb2 21 Qxb2 look equal) is met strongly by 21 Qa6!. 20 ... axb6 21 Bd2?! 21 Nb2 is probably better here too. White’s bishop seeks activity on b4 but it tums out to be ofa superficial variety. 21... Ne7! 22 Bb4 Rfe8 23 Nb2 Finally it comes, but too late! Black is much better coordinated now and ready to pounce with another active knight. 23 ... Nb5! 24 Nxed dxed 25 Rxe4 If25 Rfal then 25 ... Qd5! followed by doubling on the e-file or ... Red8. 25 ... Nxd4 26 Qa2 b5 27 Rxc8 Rxc8 The threats mount on the light squares, and White is beginning to feel the strain caused by weakening his kingside way back with 13 g3. For example, if 28 Bd6 there follows 28 ... Re3! 29 & Re2 30 Qbl Qc6 mating on g2 or winning with ... Rel+. ‘That bishop on b4 is not a lucky piece. Despite the position opening up it’s still being outshone by a Exercise: Black has a tactical possibility here with 28 ... Qb7 29 Kg2 Nx®3 30 RxB Qe4, threatening a decisive ... Re2+. Does this work? (Warning: difficult!) 28... h6 Answer: Yes it does! After 28 ... Qb7 29 Kg2 NxB! 30 Rx®B Qe4! White can avoid an immediate catastrophe with 31 Qf Rc2 32 Bd2 but he is paralysed by pins. Black regains his piece, remains a pawn ahead and will have a near decisive advantage in view of White’s weak king and e5-pawn. For example, 32 ... h6 (the immediate 32 ... Qd5 is also good, but White is so tied up Black can afford this hnxury) 33 h4 Qd5 34 Kh3 Rxd2 and Black should win, ‘You might have noticed another tactical shot with 28 ... Qb7 29 Kg2 Rc? intending 30 Rxc2? QxB+ 31 Kgl Qd1+ winning, However, White can put up much more resistance with 30 Qxc2! Nxc2 31 Rxc2 when it won't be casy for Black to convert his advantage. 29 Kg? Re4 Despite missing the above tactical shot, Black remains much better but it’s not easy to break through. On the other hand, it’s also dificult for White not to allow a breakthrough. Kulaots spends the next few moves jockeying, and then he pounces when White makes an error. 30 Qd2 QdS 31 Bd6 Qc6 32 Bb4 Qc7 33 Bd6 Qc8 34 Qd3 Qc6 35 Rb2?! 35 Bb4, here and next move, provides a tougher defence. 35 ... Nf5! 36 Kh3 Rd4 37 Qe? Re4 38 Rd2 hS!? Black finally begins some action. 39 Rb2? Exercise: What’s the winning plan for Black? Answer: 39 .. g5! ‘Threatening ... g4+ to decisively open up White’s king. There’s no chance for White to survive this light- square assault — for all purposes he is playing a piece down in this battle because the bishop contributes 40 Kg2 g4 41 KE Qb6+ 0-1 After 42 Kg? Ne3+ 43 K®2 Black can win in many ways, including simply 43 ... Nd1+ and 44 ... Nxb2. An excellent positional game by Kulaots, who slowed down White’s initiative with 10 ... Qh4+, pounced on White’s timid 14 Be3 and achieved an advantage with 16 ... d5! to seize control of the c4-square. Game 5 M.Wallinger-V.Dambrauskas Correspondence 2004 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 3 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Ne8 7 e4 b6 8 Bd3 Ba6 9 f4 Question: Why ® and then £47 Isn’t White spending too much time on pawn moves in the opening? Answer: Possibly he is, but 9 ®% does have some solid logic to it. Not only does White increase his control of the centre and prepare e5, he also allows the knight to develop on its most natural square 8 — we've already seen the benefits this brings. The key question is, can White get away with this time-consuming “twaury”? Question: What should Black play against 9 Ne2? Answer: ¢2 isn’t such a great place for the knight in this variation as it gets in the way of White’s queen, who usually needs to be on this square to protect the c4-pawn, Black should look to exploit this by attacking 4 without delay. For example, 9 ... Ne6 10 0-0 NaS! 11 f# (if 11 Qa4Nd6) 11 ... Bxc4 12 Bxe4 Nxe4 13 15 16 14 fke6 dxe6 15 Ng3 Qd7 and White had no compensation for the pawn deficit in A.Smimov- ‘V.Yerrelin, Tallin 2009. Of course White can play 10 Ng3 so that he is in time to meet 10 ... NaS with 11 Qe2 but in that case surely it’s better for the knight to go to h3 in one move rather than g3 in two? Black should answer this with 11 ... c5 followed by ... Rc8 with rapid pressure against c4. ‘Another option to consider is 9 a4!2, planning to activate the bishop on a3. A key line here is 9 ... Nc6 10 Ba3 d6 11 #1? (if 11 Qe2 Black should consider 11 ... e5 trying to block things up since one of the reasons behind Ba3 is to be able to meet 11 ... NaS with 12 Bb4!?) 11 ... NaS 12 Qe2 and now: a) 12.... ¢5 13 NB Rc8 14 eS! Exercise: White has apparently ignored the threat to his c4-pawn. Try to work out why he has done so. (Hint: What has changed after 14 ¢5?) Answer: 14 ... cxd4? fails to recognize the threat created by White’s previous move: 15 Bxh7+! (Remember: with the knight on 8, the Greck Gift sacrifice comes into play!) 15 ... Kxh7 (15... Kh8 is wiser but still a position to be avoided after 16 Bd3) 16 NgS+ with a winning attack, e.g. 16 ... Kh6 17 Qd3 or 16 a. Kg8 17 Qhs. ‘After 14 e5 Black needs to take measures against the h7-sacrifice. 14 ... g6 is one way of doing so, although afier 15 0-0 exd4 16 cxd4 Bxe 17 Racl White’s a3-bishop has come to life and Black has some dark-square weaknesses — White has at least enough compensation for the pawn. b) Another option for Black is to put aside ideas of attacking c4 for the moment and to fight back on the kingside with 12 ... 18. For example: bl) 13 e5 Qh4+!? 14 g3 Qgd! 15 NB (White should consider 15 Qa2!?) 15 ... Bxc4! was a clever pawn snatch by Black in M.Cebalo-G.Dizdar, Sibenik 2006. b2) 13 NB g6 14 e5 Ng7 15 0-0, as in L.Liptay-JPogats, Hungary 1975, looks a touch better for White, As a possible improvement, I suggest activating the knight with 13 ... N#5!? 14 ¢5 Ned 15 Bb4 (or 15 Bred fke4 16 NgS Bxc4 17 Qxe4 96) 15 ... Qd7 16 0-0 Rac8 reaching what looks like a complicated position with chances for both sides. My overall feeling is that 9 a4!? is certainly a worthwhile option for White, Let’s now return to the position in the game after Wallinger’s 9 &: 9...Ne610e5 Another pawn move, and this one does look a bit too committal to me. NB is a good move that has to be played sooner or later, so why not play it now? After 10 NB NaS White can then decide whether to play e5 or defend the c4-pawn: a) 1165. Exercise: Work out whether or not it is safe for Black to capture on c4. Answer: It is safe. After 11 ... Bxc4 the Greek Gift sacrifice fails: 12 Bxh7+? Kxh7 13 NgS+ Kg8! 14 QhS and here Black can defend with 14 ... Bd3! — a key resource to remember! Interestingly, in two games I found reaching this position, Black declined to capture on c4, preferring 11 ... £5 12 Qe2 d5 transposing to note ‘b’ below. b) 11 Qe2 £5!? (Black should probably avoid 11 ... Nd6 because affer 12 e5! Ndxc4 the self-pin is awkward, not to mention that 13 Bxh7+ might be strong; 11 ... c5 is certainly playable though) 12 ¢5 d5! 13 exd6 Nxd6 14 0-0 (against 14 NeS Black should consider the disruptive 14 ... Qh4+!? 15 g3 Qh3, while 14 Qxe6+ Kb8 15 Qe2 — only move! ~ 15 ... Bxo4 16 0-0 looks equal) 14 ... Qe7 15 NeS Bb7 (15 ... Nf7!2) 16 a4 Ne4 17 Ba3 c5 with level chances, V.Moskalenko-G. Timoshenko Alushta 1993. 10... NaS 11 Qe2 11 NB would transpose to the above note. 11... d5! Question: Why is this move given an exclamation mark? ‘Answer: For the same reasons as in the previous game. Black is again more focussed on winning the actual c4-square than the pawn (although the pawn is always a nice bomus!). Of course there’s a need to be flexible, Here the ... d5 strike is very strong because White played 10 5 instead of 10 NB. In the case of 10 NB NaS 11 Qe2, 11... d5?! (instead of 11 ... — see above) 12 exd5 Bxd3 13 Qxd3 exd5 14 e5 would be less appealing, primarily because of White’s mobile pawn majority on the kingside. 12 exd5 There’s no real choice, since 12 exd6? Nxd6 13 c5 (otherwise the pawn is lost) 13 ... Bxd3 14 Qxd3 bxe5 15 dxcS Nde4 16 Qxd8 Rixd8 looks horrendous for White. 12.... Bxd3 13 Qxd3 Qxd5! ec w\ EA Question: Why is taking with the queen better than 13 ... exd5? Answer: Let’s assess the key differences: 1. Black’s queen becomes very active and helps Black to control the light squares. 2. The black pawn remains on e6 so White lacks a pawn majority on the kingside and will find it very difficult to achieve anything there. 3. A pawn on d5 would give Black a more permanent grip on c4, but in the circumstances this isn’t required since Black’s pieces can perform a perfectly adequate job controlling c4. Conclusion: 13 ... Qxd5 is much stronger! 14NBB c5 15 0-015 Pre-empting any NgS ideas and clamping down even further on the light squares. Black’s position is aleady very pleasant and it only gets better. 16 a4 Nec7 17 Ba3 Rfd8 18 Qc2 Qb3! 19 Qxb3 Nxb3 20 Radi c4 21 Nd2 Nd5 22 Rf White should probably try 22 Nxc4 Rac8 23 Nd6 Rxc3 24 RA although Black stil keeps a clear advantage. 22... RdcB Black has traded strategical advantages — he now dominates the d5-square instead of c4. In fact this is a dream position for Black. Both knights have excellent outposts whereas White’s bishop — just as in our previous game — hits thin air and can’t contribute to the main battle, Add to this the weakness of a4 and c3 and we can already say that Black enjoys a strategically winning position. Given that this is a high-level correspondence game, free of over-the-board pressures, you would expect Black’s winning technique to be solid, and Dambrauskas doesn’t disappoint. 23 Bd6 a6 24 Nb1 b5 25 g3 Kf7 26 Na3 bxa4 27 Ne2 Rc6 28 Nb4 28 ... Rxd6! The cleanest. White soon has to retum the exchange and Black reaches a winning rook ending with an outside passed pawn. 29 exd6 Nxb4 30 cxb4 Rd8 31 Re3 a3 32 Rxc4 a2 33 bS axbS 34 Re7+ Kf6 35 Ra7 alQ 36 Rdxal Nxal 37 Rxal Rxd6 38 Rbi Rb6! ‘As always, the rook is well placed behind the passed pawn. 39 Rb4 Ke7 40 Kf2 Kd6 41 Ke3 Ke6 42 Ke3 Ra6 43 Rb? Ra3+ 44 Ke2 Kb6 45 Kf2 Re3 46 Re2 Rxd4 47 Rxe6+ Ka5 48 Re5 g6 49 Ke3 Rd7 50 h4 Kad 51 h5 b4 52 hxg6 hxg6 53 Re6 b3 54 Rxg6 54... Kb5 ‘There were other ways to win, but Black chooses a king and pawn 55 Rg8 Rd6! 56 Rb&+ Rb6 57 Rxb6+ Kxb6 58 Kd3 Kb5 59 Ke3 Kad 60 g4 Ka3 61 gxf5 b2 0-1 ‘Another excellent strategic performance from Black’s point of view. Dambrauskas seized the opportunity for light-square action with 11 ... d5! and never looked back. Game 6 V.Topalov-P.Leko Dortrrund 2002 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Ne3 Bb4 4 £3 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Ne8 7 4 b6 8 Bd3 Ba6 9 Nh3 Nc6 10 0-0 The main line. White develops quickly, cuts out resources based on ... Qh4+ and delays pushing his e- pawn until he is better prepared. 10 e5 was covered in Miedema-Kulaots (Game 4). 10... NaS 11 Qe2 Question: What about 11 ... Nd6 here, piling the pressure on ¢4, Answer: By now I hope the alarm bells should be ringing when considering such a move. After 12 e5 Nakxc4? (12 ... N15! had to be played) not only has Black walked into the awkward self pin he needs to try to avoid, White already has all the stars aligned for a successful Greek Gift: 13 Bxh7+! Kxh7 14 Qe4+! Kg8 15 NgS Re8 (or 15 ... g6 16 Qh4 winning) 16 Qh7+ K48 17 QhS Kg8 18 Qxt7+ Kh8 19 Qh5+ Kg8 20 Qh7+ KB 21 Qh8+ Ke7 22 Qxg7 mate. 11 ... Nb3!? has been played and deserves attention. This is an idea we've scen before in similar positions. Black puts his attack on c4 to one side in favour of removing one of White’s bishops and thus diluting White’s kingside threats. For example, after 12 Rb1 (White’s choice in the three games on my database) 12 .,. Nxcl 13 Rbxcl Qe7 14 e5 Bb7 15 f4 15 16 exf6 Nxf6 Black enjoyed a perfectly good position in E, Wiersma-J.Timman, London 2009. ‘When I looked deeper, though, I realized it’s not quite that simple because Black also has to consider two other replies: 12 Bg5!? 6 13 Rabl and even a rook and bishop sacrifice with 12 ¢5!? Nxal 13 Bxh7+! Kxh7 14 NgS+ Kg6 (or 14 ... Kg8 15 Qe4 £5 16 Qh4 Qxgs 17 Bxgs Nb3 18 #) 15 Qe4+ 6 16 exto+ Kxf6 17 Rel with crazy complications. Conclusion: 11 ... Nb3 might be playable but Black has to be prepared for more than just 12 Rb1! 1205 ‘The most aggressive plan. White can also aim to reduce Black’s pressure against the c4-pawn with a timely d4-d5. For example, 12 Be3 Rc8 13 d5 6 (preparing ... Nd6 without allowing e5) 14 dxe6 dxe6 15 e5!. Question: Should Black block the kingside with 15 ... 8? Answer: This is a difficult strategic decision to make. It’s very tempting to play 15 ... especially on the evidence of the following example: 16 Bg5?! (a superficial gain; in fact it’s White who ends up losing time) 16 - Qd7 17 a4 b6 18 Be3 g5! 19 g4 20 NB hS 21 Ndl Bb7 22 Nb2 Qc6 23 Rfel hd! 24 QD Re7 25 Bfl Rh7 26 Rad1 Kh8 27 Rd8 Rg8 28 Red! g3! 29 hxg3 hxg3 30 Qel Qc7 31 Be2 1... Rhl+! 32 Kxhl Qh7+ 33 BhS Qxh5+ 34 Kgl Qh2+ 35 Kfl Qxg? mate, P.Cafoll-B.Socko, Cork 2005. An absolute model game by Black, worth playing over again and again. Unfortunately White can do nuch better by playing the energetic 16 g4! trying to re-open the kingside. Then 16 ... g6? (unwisely weakening the dark-squares) 17 gxfS gxf5 18 Khl! Qh4 19 Rgl+ Kh8 20 Qe? Bxe4 21 Bg5 QhS 22 Bi6+! 1-0, V.Moskalenko-M.Larios Crespo, La Roda 2004, was another model game but this time fom White’s point of view. It’s true that 16 ... Nc7 — instead of 16 ... g6 — was much a better option, protecting ¢6 and even preparing ... Ne6 should White exchange on £5 However, best of all might be to maintain the tension with 15 ... Qd7!?. The position becomes more open after, for example, 16 exf6 Nxf6 which should suit White’s bishops, but Black’s pieces are also mich more active than after 15 ... 5, and I believe the chances to be roughly level. White has also tried the immediate 12 d5. For example, 12 ... exd5!? 13 exd5 (13 cxd5 looks more natural, but Black can gain counterplay with 13 ... Bxd3 14 Qxd3 c4! followed by ... Nb3) 13 ... Nb3!? (temporarily sacrificing a pawn ... ) 14 Bxh7+ (14 Bg5 15 15 Qed g6 looks okay for Black, e.g. 16 Bh6 Nxal 17 Bxf8 Kx 18 Rxal Nd6 19 Qh4 Kg7 20 Rel Qf and ... Re8) 14 ... Kxh7 15 Qc2+ Kg8 16 Qxb3 Nd6 (... and winning it back) 17 B& Bxc4 18 Qc2 Qi 19 Réel Rie8 (19 ... Rac8 is more accurate, so Black can meet 20 Bxd6 Qxd6 21 Ng5 with 21 ... Rxel+ 22 Rxel £5!) 20 Ng5 (20 Bxd6!? Qxd6 21 NgS looks better) 20 ... QB 21 Qd2 1 22 Bxd6 QxgS 23 Qxgs fxe5 with a drawish ending, V.Moskalenko-A Rotstein, Barbera del Valles 2005. Let’s finally return to the game and the position after Topalov’s 12 e5: Question: Why not 12 ... Rc8? Answer: It’s the same old story you must have heard by now! 13 Bxh7+! Kxh7 14 Ng5+ Kg6 (or 14 ... Kg8 15 Qed £5 16 Qh4 R&T 17 Qh7+ KiB 18 Qh5! winning) 15 Qo4+ #5 16 Qh4 Nf 17 exf and White has a decisive advantage, Leko’s 12 ... {6 prevents the Greek Gift and, in comparison to 12... f5, keeps some pressure on White’s centre. 13 Be3 Topalov develops the bishop, prevents the fork with ... Nb3 and also prepares to meet ... Rc8 with Re1 to safeguard c4. White has some alternatives with similar motives: a) 13 Bet cxd4 14 cxd4 d5!? (previously 14 ... Re8 15 Racl Qe7 16 Re3 d5 17 exd6 Nxd6 18 c5 Bxd3 19 Qxd3 Nf7 20 Rit] Qd7 led to a roughly level position in S,Volkov-N.Kosintseva, Moscow 2009) 15 exd6 (if 15 ex Nxf6 16 Qxe6+ Kh8 and Black regains the pawn by taking on c4) 15 ... Nxd6 16 Qxe6+ NET (because of the pressure on c4 and d4, White is unable to hold on to his extra pawn) 17 Qed 96 18 Riel Re8 19 Qxe8+ Qxe8 20 Rxe&+ Rxe8 21 a4 (or 21 Rel Nb3 22 Rdl Nxd4) 21 ... Rd8 22 d5 Bxc4 23 Bxo4 Nxcd 24 Rel Nb2 25 Re7 Nxad 26 Rxa7 Ne3 (Black can play for a win with 26 ... b5!2) 27 Bc7 Rd7 28 Nf Nxd5 29 Nxd5 Rxd5 30 Bxb6 and a draw was soon agreed in S.Volkov-R.Ibrahimov, ‘Nakhchivan 2011. b) White can also protect ¢4 with the elaborate-looking 13 Ra2!? Rc8 14 Re2. Question: Why would White consider this, given that Be3 (or BE) and Rel seems much more natural? Answer: By kaving the bishop on cl, White keeps the e-file unblocked and ako leaves the f-square available for the knight. 14 ... Qe7 15 Rdl d6 (15 ... Nb3!?) 16 ex Nxf6 17 Ng5 Rce8 18 Rel was S.Volkov-A.Lanin, Dagomys 2009, and here I slightly prefer the more active 18 ... e5 with nutual chances to the game’s 18 ... Bc8. ) Finally, Yakovich suggests 13 dxc5!?. This doesn’t fill foul of the positional trap 13 ... Nb3? on this occasion because of 14 Bxh7+!., Instead I feel Black should ply either 13 ... Re8 and if 14 cxb6 axb6 when he regains the pawn by capturing on c4, or 13 ... fre5!?. 13 ... Re8 14 Ract Exercise: Find a good plan for Black. With 14 Racl Topalov safeguards the c4-pawn. Answer: 14... d5! Here’s that move yet again! Once more Black’s plan is to force the issue in the centre and fight to control the light squares, in particular c4 and d5. Any delay in this plan is unlikely to help Black, especially as he wants to get the e8-knight back into action as soon as possible. 15 Nf After 15 exd6 Nxd6! Black can once again target 4. T£15 cxd5 Bxd3 16 Qxd3 Qud5 we reach a type of position we've seen before, with Black looking to stamp his authority on the light squares. In fict here White can force Black to retreat with 17 4 (17 N& Qc4! works as 18 Qxc4 Nxc4 hits the bishop) 17 ... Qd7 but this is still fine for Black because White’s centre is falling apart. 15... Ne7 16 exf6 ‘A more recent game went 16 cxd5 Bxd3 17 Qxd3 c4!? (Milov assesses 17 ... exd5 as equal) 18 Qe2 exd5 19 NhS Nb3 20 Re2 fxe5 21 dxeS Kh8 22 4 d4 23 cxd4 Nxd4 24 Qg4!? NB 25 Rdl Qe7 26 BQ Ne6 with good play for Black, whose knights are falfling their “blocker” roles admirably, U.Joppich-R. Van Tienhoven, correspondence 2008. 16 ... Qxf6 17 exd5 Bxd3 18 Qxd3 cxd4! 19 cxd4 Nxd5 20 Nxd5 exd5 The flurry of tactics and exchanges has conchided and Leko has basically got what he wanted when he played 14 ... d5. The light squares are still under his control and c4 remains an outpost. Objectively the position is probably level, but I feel that Black’s position is slightly more comfortable than White’s. 21 BA2 Ned 22 Rfe1 Rfe8 23 Bg3! The e5-square will be a good outpost for the bishop. I know it’s not saying a great deal, but the bishop is certainly happier here than it was in the previous two games! 23 wu Qe6 Exercise: Assess the position and decide whether or not White should accept the offer to exchange queens. Answer: 24 Qh3! Topalov wisely keeps the queens on the board. Afier 24 Qxg6? hxg6 25 a4 K{7 Black could try to create a passed pawn on the queenside and/or target White’s ad-pawn. In any case only Black has winning chances here. For example, 26 K2 Rxel 27 Rxel Nb2!. 24... h6 25 QbS Qf7 26 a4 Kh7 27 h3 Ra8 28 Be5 a6 29 Qh3 Qg6 30 f4 RIB 31 Rc3 Ra7 32 Rg3 Qf 33 Kh2 Raf7 Topaloy has done quite well to build up even a small amount of pressure on the kingside, but Leko can defend comfortably. It’s hard to get past Black’s dominant queen on 8. 34 Rg4 Rd7 35 Rel Rif7 36 Re3 Rb7 37 Qal Qe4 38 Reg3 Qf5 39 Rh3 bs! Black becomes the aggressor! This plan with ... bS has been on the cards for many moves, and Leko recognizes that finally Black is well placed to execute it. 40 axbS RxbS 41 Rxb5 axbS 42 Rb3 Rb7 43 Qel Qed! Leko is firmly on the ffont foot now, and Topalov has a difficult decision to make: 44 Qxed+ He enters into an uncomfortable ending where Black’s two passed pawns are going to cause him problems. On the other hand, it’s also not easy to defend with the queens on, especially over the board, affer 44 Qdl b4 or 44 Qc3 Ra intending 45 Rxb5 Ra3. 44... dxe4 45 d5 g5 46 g4 e3 1f46 ... RET it scems that White can hold, just, with precise defence: 47 Rxb5 gxtt 48 Bd4 c3 49 Rb8 (threatening perpetual check) 49 ... Re7 50 Kg2 Nd2 51 d6 Rd7 52 R®! B+ 53 RxB, as indicated by Ftacnik. 47 Kg3 47 4 e271 47 ... Re7! is more testing. Ftacnik gives 48 Rbl e2 49 Kf2 (49 Rel loses to 49 ... Nxe5 50 tre5 RxeS 51 d6 Kg? 52 d7 Rd5 53 Rxe2 Rxd7 followed by ... Rb7) 49 ... gx 50 Bx Nb2 51 Bd2 Nd3+ 52 Kg3 e1Q+ 53 Bxel Re3+ and assesses the position as winning for Black, although afier 54 Kg2 Nxel+ 55 K2 Nc2.56 RxbS Rxh3 57 d6 I believe White is probably still escaping with a draw after best play. 48 Kf2 Re7 49 Kel! Not filling for the trap 49 RxbS? clQ+ 50 Kxel ext. 49 ... NxeS 50 d6 Re6 51 fxeS RxeS 52 Rb2 Now it’s a draw. 52... Re8 53 Rxb5 Kg7 54 Rb6é Re3 55 d7 Rd3 56 Rb7 Kf8 57 Kxe2 Rd6 58 Ke3 Ke7 59 Ke4 Re6+ 60 Kf3 Rd6 61 Ked Re6+ %4-% Leko’s 12 ... £6! was vital, preventing any Greek Gift sacrifices, and after this we again saw the ... d5 light-square plan in action. Other key ideas include d4-d5 possibilities for White (instead of 12 e5) and 11 ... Nb3 for Black. White Plays 5 e4 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 13 0-05.04 This is unquestionably White’s most consistent follow-up to 4 3 — White certainly wants to advance with 2-e4, whereas a2-a3 isn’t necessarily vital. Yet these days most players choose 5 a3. The reason for this is that Black’s main response ... 5... d5! ... has proved to be very successfill With 5 ... d5 Black’s idea is to strike very quickly against White’s centre, hoping to cause damage while White is distracted by having to complete his development. Question: Could Black adopt the same “Samisch” approach we've seen so fir in this book? Answer: With the Nimzo, as with most openings, it’s wise to show some flexibility and adapt to the circumstances. Black could force a Simisch by playing 5 ... Bxc3+?! 6 bxc3. However, it’s obviously risky to enter positions, ones we already know to be sharp, a fall tempo down. For example, 6 ... Ne8 7 Bd3 b6 8 BB Ba6 9 0-0 Ne6 10 e5 NaS 11 Qe2 and White, who is threatening a Greek Gift sacrifice here, must have some advantage. In fact it’s even worse than being a tempo down, as the missing a2-a3 gives White an added possibility of Ba3! Question: How about ifBlack makes a usefill Samisch-type move with, for example, 5 ... b6 and waits for a2-a3? Answer: The probkem with this is that he could be waiting a long time! There’s no obligation for White to play a2-a3. He’s much better off developing, say with 6 Bg5! and then Black has that awkward pin to deal with, This is the sort of position Black needs to avoid, more so since 5 ... d5 is such an effective move. 605 ‘Advancing with e5 is the only logical choice although White sometimes throws in 6 cxd5 exd5 and only then 7 e5 which transposes to the main line. 6 ... Nfd7 The pawn structure has changed significantly and it now resembles a French-type formation. After 7 cxd5 exd5 White really has only two options, 8 ®% and 8 a3. These are covered in the next two games, as well as alternatives to 7 cxd5. Game 7 D.Palo-A.Maksimenko German League 2004 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 3 0-0 5 e4 d5 6 e5 Nfd7 7 cxd5 exd5 8 f4 Exercise (multiple choice): Decide on a plan of action for Black. Should he: a) Break with 8 ... £5; b) Break with 8 ... c5; or c) Develop with 8 ... Ne6? After the change in pawn structure, the pawn on £3 suddenly became an ugly duckling, It’s certainly happier to be on f4, where it supports the e5-pawn and allows the knight to develop on 8. White’s only real alternative was 8 a3 and we shall look at that move next game. Answer: Black nust try to create play in the centre as soon as possible, before White can catch up in development and consolidate. Simply developing pieces doesn’t put White under enough pressure. For example, 8 ... Ne6?! 9 NB Nb6 10 Bd3 and White is ready to castle and utilize his impressive pawn centre. The only way to do so is with a pawn break: 8... 5! This is the most logical pawn break here, if nothing else because the d4-pawn lacks support at the moment. In contrast, ¢5 is well protected. Ako, afier 8 ... 1 Black would have to consider 9 Qb3 and 9 ¢6!? as wellas 9 NB. 9 a3 BaS! 9 ... Bxc3+ 10 bxc3 Nc6 isn’t bad, but it would give White extra support of the d4-pawn. trad ao 10 NB? It’s amazing to think that such a natural move could be a blunder, but it is! In view of what happens in this game, White needs to break the “knights before bishops” rule and choose 10 Be3! cxd4 11 Bxd4 Ne6 12 NB. Now: a) 12... Nxd4 13 Qxd4! Bb6 14 Qxd5 Ne5 15 bd! Ne6 16 Rdl and Black didn’t have quite enough compensation for his pawn in J. Hawkins-S. Conquest, British Ch., Canterbury 2010. b) 12... Bxc3+!? 13 Bxc3 NeS 14 Be2 BES! 15 Nd4 (if 15 0-0 then 15... No6 threatening ... d4-d3) 15 w Nxd4. 16 Bxd4 (16 Qxd4?? Nb3) 16 ... Ne6 17 0-0 Qd7 18 Rel %4-¥%, J.De Jong-G.Van der Stricht, Netherlands League 2010. The final position looks roughly level to me. Black could play 18 ... Ri&8 since 19 Rxc8+ Rxc8 20 Bxa7 d4! would give him good compensation for the pawn. 10... xd4 11 Nxd4 Exercise: Maksimenko’s next move is incredibly strong. Try to work out what it might be. 11 Qxd4 is powerfully met by 11 ... Nc6! and if 12 Qxd5 then 12 ... NdxeS! 13 Qxd8 NxB+ 14 gxB Rxd8 and White’s position is a complete shambles. White can try to keep a lid on things with 12 Qf (instead of 12 Qxd5) but once again Black can — and should — play dynamically to smash White’s centre: 12 ... d4! 13 Nxd4 Ndxe5!, Another tactic works, Black has a clear advantage here after either 14 fkxe5 Nxd4 or 14 Nxc6 Nxc6. Answer: 11. NxeS!! It’s no exaggeration to say that Black is winning after this move. 12 fxe5 If White doesn’t accept he simply loses a key pawn which holds his position together. 12.... Qh4+! 13 Ke2 This is forced, since 13 g3 loses to 13 ... Qe4+ forking king and rook. If you got as far as 13 Ke2 and intuitively thought that Black was doing well, you've displayed good judgement. In fact Black has more than one strong option here. 13... Best! 3 ... Bb6! is ako good, and perhaps even simpler: 14 Be3 (the knight can’t move: 14 NB? QD+ 15 K¢3 BB+ is crushing) 14 ... Bg4+ 15 NB d4! 16 Bxd4 BxB+ 17 KxB Bud4 18 23 Qh5+ 19 Kg? Qxes 20 QB Ne6 when Black’s extra pawn, kad in development and White’s shaky king all add up to a decisive advantage, S. Vokkov-N. Vekshenkov, Togiatti 2003. 14 NB Ne6 Black doesn’t have to do anything special — the threats will just build up naturally. The sheer volume of ideas (... NxeS, ... d4-d3, ... Re8xe5, ... Bb6) means that it would be incredibly unlikely for White to find a good defence. Going back a few moves, it’s worth noting that if White pays 9 NB Black can use the same tactic: 9 ... cxd4! 10 Nxd4 Nxe5!! 11 fkeS Qh4+ 12 Ke2 and now either 12 ... Bg#+ 13 NB Ne6 or 12... BcS 13 Be3 Bgt+ 14 NB dé, 1513? This loses quickly, but White is up against it even if he finds the most resilient defence. For example: a) 15 Qel Nd4+ 16 Kdl BxB+ 17 gxB Qxel+ 18 Kxel Bxc3+ 19 bxc3 Nc2+ 20 K@ Nxal and Black should win. b) 15 BEt (perhaps the best) 15... R&S 16 h3! (if16 Bg3 then 16 ... QhS! keeps all the threats) 16 ... NxeS! 17 hxg4 Nxg4+ 18 Kd2 Qxhl with a clear advantage for Black, although at least White i still fighting here. 15... Bxf3+ 16 gxf3 Exercise: Find the most ruthless continuation for Black. Answer: 16 .. d4! ‘The key point behind this move is that the pawn isn’t going to stop here. ‘The idea is ... d3+, blowing the d-file wide open and uncovering White’s poor king. 17Nd5 If 17 Ne4 d3+! and Black wins quickly in all lines: 18 Qxd3 Qel mate — once this idea is seen... d4-d3 becomes a no-brainer; 18 Kxd3 Rad8+ 19 Nd6 NxeS+; and finally 18 Ke3 Nxe5 19 Bxd3 Rad8 etc. 17... Rad8 18 Bg2 If 18 Nf then 18 ... d3+! is again crushing: 19 Nxd3 Nd4+ 20 Ke3 NfS+ 21 Ke2 Ng3+ 22 Ke3 Qd4 mate. 18... d3+! Ofcourse 18 ... Rxd5 is good, but it’s always better to play a move which wins immediately! 19 Qxd3 Or 19 Kfl d2t. 19... Nd4+ 20 Ke3 1f20 Kfl Black again mates on el. 20... Rxd5 21 Qe4 NESH Forcing mate. 22 QxfS Bb6+ 23 Ke2 Qf2 mate (0-1) Game 8 P.Motwani-C.Lutz French League 2005 1e4 The English Opening! But only for one move .. 1... Nf6 2 d4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 £3 0-0 5 e4 dS! 6 e5 Nfd7 7 cxd5 There are two reasonable alternatives for White: a) A key tactic to remember is that affer 7 a3 Bxc3+ 8 bxc3 Black can play 8 ... dxc4!. Fasw fe) rita Crucially this wins a pawn, since 9 Bxc4? fills for the trick 9 ... Nxe5! 10 dxe4 Qh4+. White’s strong centre after 9 # does offer some compensation, but even so Black should be happy with this position, An example: 9 ... Nb6 10 NB Bd7 11 a4 a5 12 Ba3 Re8 13 BoS NdS (returning the pawn, but Black is still at least equal) 14 Bxc4 Ne3! 15 Qe2 Nxc4 16 Qxed Bc6 17 0-0 Qd5 18 Qe2 Nd7 19 c4 Qc4 20 Qxe4 Bxe4 21 Kf2 Rad8 22 Ke3 Bc6 with an edge for Black, N.Konovalov-A.Motylev, Moscow 2010. The bishop’s only retreat square after a timely... b6 is a3, but this leaves a4 unprotected. b) There has been very lttle experience with 7 4!?. I feel that Black should meet it in the same way as 7 cxd5 exd5 8 f, that is with 7 ... ¢5! after which 8 cxd5 exdS would transpose to our last game. Instead 8 a3 BaS 9 NB (or 9 dxc5 Bxc3+ 10 bxc3 dxe4 11 Bxc4 Qas followed by ... Nxc5, which looks about equal) 9 ... exd4 (9 .... Ne6 is fine 100) 10 Nxd4 dxed! looks fine for Black. For example, 11 Bxe4 Nb6 12 Bd3 (or 12 Ba2 NdS) 12 ... Nd5 13 Bd2 (13 0-0 Bb6!) 13 ... Nob 14 Nxc6 bxc6 15 0-0 Ba6! 16 Bxa6 Qb6+ 17 Khl Bxc3!. 7 ou exd5 8 a3 8 £4 was covered in the previous game. 8... Bxc3+! Question: Why did Lutz capture on c3 here, when retreating with ... BaS was so successfil in our previous game? Answer: The key difference here is that Black has yet to play ... 5. If8 ... BaS White doesn’t respond ‘with 9 £21 allowing 9 ... cS when we're back to the previous game. Instead 9 b4! rules out ... c5, and then 9 .». Bb6 10 £4! (not 10 Nxd5? Qh4+) leaves Black having to work hard to achieve counterplay. 9 bxc3 16! Question: Another change from the previous game! Why does Lutz choose ... £5 instead of... 5? Answer: Look at the pawn structure. This time it’s the e5-pawn, not the d4-pawn, which lacks sufficient protection, and so 9 ... f5 becomes the more logical pawn break. 9 ... c5 is certainly playable, but White is able to maintain his centre after 10 4 Nc6 11 NB ete. Exercise: Find a tactical shot for Black if White plays 10 £4. 10 exfé Ideally White would like to support the ¢5-pawn by playing 10 & here, but he isn’t able to because it allows a combination ... Answer: On 10 £4, Black wins a pawn with 10... fkeS 11 dxe5 NxeS!. If 12 fxe5 Qh4+ and Black wins after 13 23 Qe4+ or 13 Kd2 QeH+ and ... Qxfl. 10 ... Qxf6 There’s nothing wrong with 10 ... Nxi® or even the zwischenzug 10 ... Re8+. In fact 10 ... Nxf® might at first sight appear to be more natural than 10 ... Qxf® as it unblocks the c8-bishop. However, Black can instead put his knight on b6, which is arguably a better square for it. 11 Bd3 Nb6 12 Ne2 BIS! Question: Why is this a good move? Answer: Two reasons: 1. The bishop pair is usually more powerfil than the sum of its individual parts. So when your opponent has the bishop pair, it’s normally a good idea to exchange one of them off if you are abke to. 2. Black enjoys some control of the light squares, and this control is more likely to turn to dominance if the bishops are exchanged — White’s bishop is a key defender of the light squares. ‘As for an assessment of the position after 11 ... BSS, I would say that Black is comfortably placed and it’s roughly level. 13 Bf! ‘Another good move. Motwani’s plan is to wedge his bishop into the eS-square and support it with B-£4, In contrast to some of the games in this chapter, where White’s dark-squared bishop cut a rather sorry figure, at least here it willbe in the thick of the action. 13... Rf7 Buck can also play 13 ... Bxd3 14 Qxd3 6, as in V.Tomescu-L.Trent, Porto San Giorgio 2008, which doesn’t allow White to cement his bishop with f3-f. The game continued 15 BeS Qh4+ 16 Ng3 N8d7 17 0- 0 (17 £47 is unwise in view of 17 ... NxeS 18 fre No4 and White’s king won't be safe) 17 ... Nxe5! (good timing, as 17 ... Ne4 would allow 18 #4) 18 dxe5 Q& 19 Qd4 Ne4 20 R&I a5 21 a4 Rac8 22 Qxft Rxet 23 Ne2 Rf7 24 f4 g5 25 g3 with a complex position and roughly level chances. I slightly prefer the immediate 20 ... Rae8!, since after 21 Qxf# (21 Qxa7 Nxe5 22 Qxb7 Qd2! is better for Black) 21 ... Rx® 22 Ne2 Rf7 23 # g5 24 g3 White will have to spend another move safeguarding his a-pawn before he can move his rook fromal. 14 BeS5 Qg5 15 BxfS Qxf5 16 Ng3 Qd7 17 0-0 Nc6 18 f4 Ned Let's try to assess what is happening: 1. White has achieved his aim of cementing his “bad” bishop into e5. 2. White will mass his pieces on the kingside and slowly build up the pressure, using his pawn majority. 3. Black’s knights have found good squares, particularly the one on c4. It’s useful that they both attack the bishop on e5, since this creates tactical possibilities and slows down White’s plans (e.g. f4-15 is very difficult to achieve). 4, Black can seek action on the queenside, where he is clearly superior. In conchision, the chances are pretty level and the imbalances in the position mean that both sides can play for the win, 19 Qe2 Re8 20 h3 Suggest a strong positional move for Black. Answer: 20 .. b5! Latz fixes the weakness on a3 and thus forces the al-rook to remain passive. He intends to follow up with ... a5 which gives him the option of either ... a4 totally fixing a3, or ... b4 to chip away at White’s d4-pawn. 21RB Notice that 21 a4? bxa4 22 Rxa4?? would be a blunder, as 22 ... N6xeS! uncovers an attack on the rook. 21... a5 22 Nfl! Wisely planning to challenge Black’s monster knight on e4, 22.4 bat Excellent play by Lutz. He initiates a tactical sequence in which White must play very accurately to hold the balance, but Motwani is up to the task. 23 axb4 axb4 24 Qal! The pin on the e-file was causing White problems, the most obvious example being 24 cxb4?? Nxd4!. 24. bxe3 Lutz could have tried 24 ... N6xe5 although White is just about okay after 25 dxeS bxc3 26 Qd4!, rather than 25 fxeS Rxf8 26 QxB b3! with a strong passed pawn. 25 Rxc3 N6xe5 26 fxeS c5 27 Ne3 %-s Now it’s totally level, e.g. 27 Ne3 cxd4 28 Qxd4 Nxe5 29 Qxd5. Key Notes 1. After 4 8 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3, the plans are noticeably quite similar to much of what we saw in the previous chapter but Black’s early castling does make a significant difference. 2. If Black wants to play in typical fashion with ... b6, ... Ba6 and ... Ne6-a5, a vital precursor to this plan is 6 ... Ne8! (see Games 4-6). 3. Just as we saw in the previous chapter, ... Qh4+ can sometimes be used as an effective spoiting move (see Game 4). 4, Black must always be aware of attacking ideas by White on the kingside, including the Greek Gift sacrifice. 5. The light-square strategy beginning with ... d5! is an important idea for Black, and it’s seen in Games 4, Sand 6. 6. Inrecent times 5 ... d5! has been an effective answer to 5 e4 (see Games 7-8) and this is the main reason why most White players choose 5 a3 against 4 ... 0-0. Chapter Three Rubinstein Variation: 4 e3 Main Line 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 €6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 Hastwe = ttit att 4 ¢3, the Rubinstein Variation, is one of the two most popular replies to the Nimzo-Indian (the other is 4 Qc2). In most cases White’s plan is to develop his kingside quickly and to castle, leaving issues such as central control and attacking the bishop with a2-a3 until later. Question: Why block in the dark-squared bishop with 4 ¢3? Shouldn’t White develop more actively with 4 Bg5 or 4 NB, as he normally does in the Queen’s Gambit? Answer: Both of these moves are recognized options, and are covered later on. But neither 4 BgS nor 4 NB are anywhere near as popular as 4 €3. Question: Why is that the casc? ‘Answer: That’s a good question, and one which is not easy to answer without delving into concrete lines. For the moment, I can say that 4 BgS is of course a move White would like to play, but it allows significant counterplay affer ... c5. 4 Nf3 looks more flexible than 4 BgS or 4 ¢3, but is it really? In many lines of the Nimzo-Indian White likes to develop this knight elsewhere, or to play {2-6 controling the key e4-square (as we have already seen a few times). So if we were being unkind we could say that 4 NB is both committal and doing nothing to control e4 Of course things are fir more complex than these generalizations suggest, and White has chances of gaining an advantage afler either 4 NB or 4 BgS, but by and large Ninvo-Indian players aren’t too scared of these moves. Let’s retum to 4 ¢3 and briefly consider White’s development options. It’s reasonable to assume that the light-squared bishop is best placed on 43, but notice that the knight has two decent squares: 8 and e2. 4.00 Black has other good moves here, including 4... c5 and 4 ... b6, but in this book I’m focussing on the most popular choice, 4 ... 0-0. 5 BB This is the most natural follow-up to 4 e3, and if Black does nothing White is even ready to play €3-e4 if he wants to. In this chapter I’m covering the main line after 4 ... 0-0, while the next one deals with alternatives such as 5 Nge2. 5 ou dS Black finally puts a pawn in the centre. Question: After ... 45, isn’t it lke a Queen’s Gambit Declined? Answer: The pawn structure certainly is, but the pieces are in different places and this means the positions and plans are not the same. Let’s assess the main differences: 1. White’s dark-squared bishop is stuck inside the pawn chain instead of being actively placed on f# or g5 (as it would be in a QGD afer, say, 1 d4 d5 2 04 c6 3 Nc3 Nfb 4 BgS Be7). This is certainly favourable for Black. For one thing, there is much less pressure on his centre and this allows him to play more actively. 2. Black's dark-squared bishop is on b4 rather than 7. Even though it’s more “actively” placed, this probably helps White slightly. With a well timed a2-a3, White can either force it to retreat or, more likely, gain the bishop pair affer a trade on c3. 6NB Other choices for White, here and on the next move, will be discussed in Chapter 4. 6.05 ‘And another pawn! If there were a bishop on g5, exerting pressure on the d5-pawn, Black would have to think twice about this advance. We could say that Black is exploiting the lack of pressure by White in the centre, and taking the opportunity to create his own pressure. A kess popular, but good altemative is 6 ... b6 7 0-0 Bb7. 70-0 (see following diagram) We've reached a key position which has occurred thousands of times, and at all evels. Black has quite a choice of options at this point, and we're going to focus on two of them: a)7 ... dxc4 8 Bxe4 Nbd7, the Parma Variation, enjoys a reliable reputation and has been utilized at one time or another by most of the top grandmasters who have played the Nimzo-Indian, such as Anand, Karpov, Leko, Adams, Kasparov and Topalov. Understanding the general ideas and tactics is more important than learning specific moves orders, but there are still one or two forcing lines. Sce Games 9-12, b) 7... Nc6 8 a3 BaS!? (see Game 13) leads to quite different positions. The main continuation is very sharp, and this option might be appealing if you are looking for a more tactical battle in a slightly less theoretical line. Game 9 J.Lautier-M.Carlsen FIDE World Cup, Khanty-Mansiysk 2005 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 Question: Why did Carlsen choose to develop the knight to d7? Why not c6? Answer: A few reasons: 1. 8... Nbd7 marks the beginning of Carlsen’s queenside development plans. He intends to develop his light-squared bishop on the long diagonal with ... b6 and ... Bb7, and on d7 the knight won’t block the bishop’s path. 2. Black will want to exert pressure down the c-file with ... Re8 and/or ... Qc7. Ifthe knight is on d7 it won't block the e-file. 3. The knight adds support to the ¢5-pawn, giving Black more options in the event of dxc5. 9 Qe2 This is White’s most popular try against the Parma Variation. First of all he intends to activate his king's rook on dl. This is clearly a tempting square for the rook: it supports the d4-pawn, indirectly opposes the black queen and sets up active possibilities in the centre such as d4-d5, dxe5 and e3-e4. 9. b6 Carlsen doesn’t waste any time delaying the development of the bishop. 10 Rdl ‘And Lautier carries out his mini-plan. Alternatives for White will be discussed in the next game. 10... xd Question: This exchange in the centre frees White’s cl-bishop. Isn't it better, or at least more flexible, to keep the central tension with 10 ... Bb7? Answer: 10 ... Bb7 is probably the move Black would like to play, but this allows White to demonstrate one of the strengths of the Qe2, Rdl plan: 11 d5!. White’s idea is that after some exchanges on d5, the bishop on b4 willbe left rather out on a limb, hitting thin air. For example, 11 ... exd5 12 NxdS Nxd5 13 BxdS Bxd5 14 Rxd5 followed by e3-e4. ‘The tactical justification behind White’s idea is that 11 ... Bxc3 can be met by the zwischenzug 12 dxe6! when White regains the piece by force and has good chances of emerging with some advantage, e.g. 12 ... BaS 13 exd7 Qc7 14 04 Nxd7 15 NgS and again Blck’s dark-squared bishop is out of the game, L.Polugaevsky-T-Petrosian, Leningrad 1960. 11 exdd Lautier accepts an isolated queen's pawn (IQP) position and frees the cl-bishop, but the structure is about to change again. Keeping the symmetry with 11 Nxd4 Bb7 causes Black no real problems and should lead to a level position, for exampk 12 Bd2 a6 13 Bel Qe7 14 a3 Bd6 15 8 bS 16 Ba2 Rac8, S.Gligoric-V.Smyslov, Amsterdam 1954. Offering a pawn with 12 e4!? is sharper, but Black is stil fine: 12 ... Qc8!? (jf 12 ... Bxe3 13 bxc3 Nxe4 White has the shot 14 Nxe6!; however, this is still very playable for Black after 14 ... fke6 15 Bxe6+ Kh8 16 Rxd7 Qf 17 Rxb7 Qxe6 intending 18 B Qc8 with an unclear position, as indicated by Golubev) 13 3 NeS 14 Bb3 Bxc3 15 bxc3 Ba6! with good counterplay, S.Shankland-I.Farago, Budapest 2009. This is why Black phyed 12 ... Qc8; blunted by 2-f and ¢3-c4, Black’s light-squared bishop moves to a more active diagonal. 11... Bxe3 Question: Why did Carlsen trade on c3 now? Shouldn’t Black wait for White to play a2-a3? Can he keep this bishop? Answer: Black ofien does delay taking on c3 and instead chooses 11 ... Bb7, but ... Bxc3 is definitely part of his plans. If Black delays ... Bxc3 for too long, or tries to avoid it completely, he runs the risk of being hit in the centre by d4-d5, as we have already seen. For example, 11 ... Bb7 12 BgS Rc8?! 13 d5! and now 13 ... Bxc3 14 dxe6! (this idea again) 14 ... BxB 15 gxf3! or 13 ... exd5 14 Nxd5 Bxd5 15 Bxd5 with Black struggling in both cases. However, Black can — and should — meet 12 BgS with 12 ... Bxc3! 13 bxe3 Qe7 (or 13 ... Re8) with similar play to the main game. Question: So why didn’t Carlsen wait one more move before exchanging? Answer: I suspect the reason for Carken's decision to take on c3 at this earliest moment was to eliminate all d4-d5 possibilities. That is, affer 11 ... Bb7 White can play 12 d5!? and now: a) 12... exdS 13 Nxd5 is again a bit better for White, e.g. 13 ... Re8 14 Qc2 Nxd5 15 Bxd5 Bxd5 16 Rxd5 Qe7 (16 ... Re8? 17 Qdl! leaves Black’s knight in trouble) 17 Bg5 f 18 RadI Nf8 19 Be3 and White’s pieces are the more active, N.Sedlak-G.Sax, Zalaegerszeg 2010. b) 12 ... Bxe3! 13 dxe6! Bxf8! 14 gxf3! (if 14 Qxf3 then 14 ... NeS! 15 exf7+ Kh8 16 Rxd8 NxB+ 17 gx Raxd8 18 bxc3 with an equal position, e.g. 18 ... Rd7 19 Ba3 Rfif7 20 Bxf7 Rxf7 when White’s extra pawn is counterbalanced by his wreck ofa structure, L.Portisch-J.Donner, Hamburg 1965) 14 ... fre6 15 bxc3 Qc7 16 Ba3!? (after 16 Bxe6+ Kh8 17 Be3 Ne5 Black again enjoys decent compensation in view of White’s ruined pawns) 16 ... Nc5 with a complex and roughly equal position, L.Aronian-S.Karjakin, Bilbao 2009. Tt seems that 12 d5 isn’t quite as effective here as it is in some positions. So in summary, 11 ... Bb7 is certainly payable as long as Black is intending to take on c3 in most cases anyway and is ready to meet the complications of 12 45. 12 bxc3 Qe7 12 ... B67 is also played here, but given that Black normally follows up with ... Qc7 a transposition is likely. Let’s assess the imbalances of the position after 12 ... Qe7: 1. Both sides are almost filly developed, and their pieces are harmoniously placed. 2. White enjoys a bit more space, but Black certainly isn’t cramped. The trade of one set of minor pieces has helped Black in this respect. 3. White has the bishop pair ina fairly open position, but Black’s remaining bishop will be on a very good diagonal. 4, Black has no structural weaknesses. 5. White possesses what’s known as an isolated pawn couple (the c3- and d4-pawns). The final point is a key positional feature of the position. Depending on specifics, the isolated pawn couple could prove to be either a strength or a weakness, The pawn couple controls key central squares, offers White space and might become a dynamic weapon advancing in the centre. On the other hand, the pawns are static weaknesses. The c3-pawn is backward, but when it advances to c4 (creating “hanging pawns”) both pawns are vulnerable to some extent. ‘Asa mule of thumb, the more pieces that are exchanged, the more prominent the static weakness of this pawn couple becomes. So in general Black should be happy with piece exchanges, as long as they don’t involve concessions. 13 Bb2 Bi Question: This bishop looks very passive on b2. Why did Lautier move it to this square? Answer: The simple reason is that White wants to move his bishop from c4, which at the moment is vulherable to attack and also blocking the c-pawn, so first he defends the c3-pawn to avoid ... Qxc3. White then intends to play c3-c4 more or less straight away, after which the bishop on b2 becomes more usefill. Not only does it protect the d4-pawn, it also exerts indirect pressure on eS and the bishop’s power down the long diagonal may be released at the right time by a d4-d5 advance. Stil, 13 Bb2 is hardly the only option for White. Another is 13 Bd2. For example, 13 .. R&B (lining up the possibilty of... e5, which White’s next move prevents) 15 Rel Rac8 16 a4! Bb7 14 Bd3 Question: What’s the purpose of 16 a4? Answer: White is preparing to play a4-a5 at some moment, the benefits of which are twofold: 1. White eliminates one of his pawn weaknesses; and 2. Black is left with a pawn weakness himself, whether he allows an exchange on b6 or takes on a5. The latter case, usually avoided by Black, results in White’s c-pawn becoming passed. Question: How should Black react? Answer: There’s not a great deal Black can do to directly prevent a4-a5, but he can focus on his own positional goals. As mentioned earlier, Black’s position tends to improve with piece exchanges, because these reduce the dynamism in White’s position and emphasize the static weaknesses. Exercise: Look at the diagram after 16 a4 and try to find two different plans for Black seeking to force a favourable exchange of minor pieces. Black could just play 16 ... Bxf3 here, but that would be a mistake because it accepts too many concessions: Blick trades his strong bishop, kaves White with two bishops versus two knights and is left with many light-squared weaknesses. Answer: Black can play either 16 ... BdS or 16 ... Nd5. Let’s take a look at these ideas in tum: a) The ... Bd5 plan Blck’s plan afier 16 ... Bd5 is to play ... Be4! forcing an exchange of light-squared bishops. Even though Biack’s bishop is a good piece, he is usually very happy to trade it for its counterpart which is probably even stronger given that it forms one half of a bishop pair. More specifically, if Black can exchange bishops it gives him the opportunity to dominate and occupy the light squares in the centre with moves such as ... Qc4 and ... NGS, piling up on the ¢3-pawn and seizing the advantage. Ina few games White has been sufficiently wary of this promising plan and has changed the dynamics of the position with the sharp 17 NeS! (preventing ... Bed for the moment) 17 ... Nxe5 18 dxe5 Nd7 19 Qh5. ‘The game has moved on with NeS. White still suffers from static weaknesses (we can add eS to the list now), but at the moment Black’s pressing concer is how to deal with White’s initiative on the kingside. This is a type of situation Black could easily face in the Parma Variation, though he will often try to avoid it Exercise (multiple choice): How should Black deal with the attack on h7? The options are: a) 19... Nf; b) 19 ... 6; ¢) 19... h6; d) 19... . Answer: The first thing to note is that 19 ... h6?, inviting the obvious sacrifice 20 Bxh6!, is usually very risky and here 20 ... gxh6 21 Quh6 NfB 22 Re3 Ng6 23 h4 gives White a very strong attack. 19 ... 6 leaves Black’s kingside full of dark-square holes which are very difficult to defend. T:Hillarp Persson-C.lonescu, Batumi 1999, continued 20 Qh4 Bcé (if 20 ... Nxe5 then 21 Bét is an awkward pin) 21 Bc2 Qb8? 22 BgS Bd5?, and here White could have won immediately with 23 Qh6! (threatening B®) 23 ... Kh8 24 Re3 Rg8 25 Qxh7+! Kxh7 26 RK3+ Kg7 27 Bh6+ Kh8 28 Bf mate. Blick did defend poorly in this game, but 19... g6 docsn’t really look very appealing to me. 9... Nf8 is the move Black often relies on in this type of position because it allows him to defend h7 without incurring any weaknesses. This move looks better than both 19... h6 and 19 ... 96, although with 20 Re3! intending Rh3 or Re3 White can keep his initiative going on the kingside. 19 ... £5! might well be the best move. After 20 ext Naf 21 Qh4 Black has accepted a weakness of his own (the e6-pawn) but crucially he is able to “defend actively”, for want of a better phrase. After 21 ... Be4 (21 ... Qd8!?) 22 Be2 Qf7 23 Bg5 Bd5 24 Re3 (24 Bxf6 gxfb 25 Re3 might be more testing) 24 ... Red! Black had good counterplay in R_Henley-L.Evans, New York 1977. In conchision, Black's position is not that easy to play after 19 QhS, but 19 ... Nf8 and particularly 19 ... 65 offer the best chances. b) The ... Nd5 plan This move is a vital resource for Black in the Parma Variation. In this particular position, with 16 ... Nd5 Black threatens to win a pawn with .. Nxc3 or to force a favourable trade of one of White’s bishops with ... Na. Here 17 4 Nf! 18 Bx& Qxtt is just the type of position Black is aiming for. The exchange of minor pieces has dented White’s ambitions and left only the worry of how to adequately protect his hanging pawns. White can try to mix things up with 17 Ne5 Nxe5 18 dxeS but Black gains quick and strong counterplay down the central files here; for example, 18 ... Red8 (or even just 18 ... Nxc3) 19 c4 Qc61, and if 20 exd5 Qud5 21 Be4 then 21 ... Qxe4 22 Qxe4 Bxe4 leaves Black a pawn ahead. 17 Qe4 also prevents both threats. Black should reply with either 17 ....Ni8 or 17 ... N5®%5 18 Qh4 cS! with a decent position, but he should avoid 17 ... N7f® 18 Qh! Nxc3? 19 Reel. In conchision, out of the two approaches, in this particularly line I foc! that 16 ... NdS is saftr and more promising than 16 ... BdS. ‘Afler that long discussion on Black’s general strategy and positional aims, let’s return to the game and the position after Lautier’s 13 Bb2. 13.... Bb7 14 Be3 Lautier removes the bishop from the vulnerable o4-square and prepares to play c3-c4, After 14 Racl?!, for example, White must be willing to allow his kingside pawns to be smashed by 14 ... BxB. In fit after 14 Rac] White should be more worried by 14 ... Ned! This is a key tactical idea to remember, as it works very well in certain situations, If 15 h3? Black can win a pawn with 15 ... BxB 16 QxB Nxf2!. Against 14 Bb3 Black could consider 14 ... Qf4!? followed by ... Rac8 ~ the queen is quite well placed on ff and provides useful nuisance value. Question: What about the 14... Ne4 idea in answer to 14 Bb3? ‘Answer: Sometimes the ... Ne4 idea is ineffective because White can simply invite the check on h2, and this is one of those occasions. Affer 15 3! Bx 16 Qxf3 Qh2+ 17 Kfl Neff Black can't do anything with his queen and he has achieved very litle in giving up bishop for knight. In general, ... Ng4 ideas are more likely to work if the bishop is still on c4; or if the rook is stil on fl, when ... Qh2 is checkmate rather than just check. Let’s get back to the game and the position after 14 Bd3: 14... Nd5! A strong move by Carlen. He actively seeks an exchange with ... Nfl, after which he would stand at least equal. Question: How about 14 ... Ng4 in this position? Answer: It’s even worse here, due to the tactic 15 Bxh7+! Kxh7 16 NgS+. ‘Asa general point, Black has to be carefil not to become too passive. The following game serves as a warning as to what might happen if he does, and a reminder of White’s attacking chances: 14 ... R&e8 15 c4! (is too late for ... Nd5!) 15... Rac8 16 Racl N&® (.... Nd7-f8-g6, eyeing & again, is a typical manoewre, but White responds energetically ...) 17 NeS! Ng6 18 Qe3 Nxe5 19 dxe5 Qe6 20 Qh3! Ne4 (20 ... Nh5! looks better, as 21 Bxh7+ Kxh7 22 QxhS+ Kg8 is far ftom clear) 21 Rel NgS 22 Qe4 h6 23 Re3 (now White’s attack runs very smoothly) 23 ... Rc7 24 h4 Nh7 25 Rg3 g6 26 hS g5 27 & Qc5+ 28 Kh2 Qe7 29 Ba3! £5 30 ext Qxib 31 Rfl Rg7 32 fxg5 Qxg5 33 Bg6! QeS 34 Bf7+ Kh8 35 Qxg7+ and Black was forced to resign in S. Yuferov- V. Zilberstein, USSR 1969. Returning to the game after Carlsen’s 14 ... Nd5!: 15 Qed! Lautier defends against both ... N&# and ... Nxc3 for the moment by threatening mate on h7. If15 c47! Nf 16 Qe3 Nxd3 17 Qxd3 BxB 18 gx Rac8 Black’s position is looking very good. 15 ... N7f6 16 QeS Lauter feels obliged to offer an exchange of queens. ‘An earlier game, B.Melander-K.Tikkanen, correspondence 1986, went 16 Qh4 N##! (again Black must avoid 16 ... Nxc3. 17 Rdcl) 17 Bfl BxB! (this exchange is obviously more appealing now that it smashes White’s kingside pawn structure, and even more so because Black can immediately take advantage of this) 18 gxB N6hS! 19 Rel S! 20 Bel R&S and out of scemingly nowhere Black had a strong attack. The game continued 21 Bxft Nxft 22 Khl Ng6 23 Qg3 Qxc3 24 Racl Qxd4 and Black won. 16... Rac8 17 c4 Nf4! 18 Bfl Bxf3 Carlsen chooses the same unbalancing exchange. Unlike the previous note, the queens are exchanged and Black doesn’t build up a quick attack on the kingside, However, Carlsen still manages to achieve significant play with his knights. 19 gxf3 Rfd8 20 Qxc7 Rxe7 21 ad! Exercise: Find a way to get the 5-knight more involved in the action. (Hint: Black’s first move might not be a knight move.) 21 ad! is a good move by Lauticr. White must seek action on the queenside to counterbalance Black’s play on the other wing. ‘Answer: 21 ... h6! Planning ... NH7, and then either ... Ng5 or ... Ni8-g6-h4, in either case helping Black’s attack on the kingside. 22 a5 Nh7 23 axb6 axb6 24 Ra3 Nf8 25 Rdal Rec8 Preventing Ra8. The battle is hotting up. White will likely win the b6-pawn, but once the knight on 8 is fully activated Black’s knight pair will cause chaos. 26 Rb3 N8g6! 27 Rxb6 Nh4 28 Ra3 NfS 29 5 e5! Carlsen presents Lautier, who was perhaps in time trouble, with a difficult decision to make. 30 Ba6? Exercise: How should Black respond to the attack on his c8-rook? Lautier must have been worried about Black’s activity after 30 dxe5 Rxc5 but this is what he had to try. 30... Nxd4! Answer: By ignoring it. Black has his own, more serious threats, ie. checkmate! 31 Bxc8 Nde2+ 32 Kfl Radl mate, or 31 Bxd4 Rxd4 32 Bxc8 Rdl mate, 31 Rd6 Rxd6 32 cxd6 Rd8! 33 Kfl Rxd6 Y Ute z > , t! Spy Carlsen has won the d6-pawn by force, and with his knight so dominant he enjoys a decisive advantage. ‘The game lasts quite a bit longer and the remaining moves are worth playing through, but the final result is never really in any doubt. 34 Bd3 g5 35 Bed Kg7 36 Ral Rb6 37 Ba3 £5 38 Ba8 Kf6 39 Bc5 RbS 40 Bd6 Ke6 41 Bf8 Rb8 42 Bc5 Rb2 43 Rel Kf6 44 Rdl h5 45 Kel Re2+ 46 Kfl Rb2 47 Kel Re2+ 48 Kfl Re2 49 Bb6 kg6 50 Bb7 Rb2 51 Bxd4 exd4 52 Ba Kf6 53 Bed Ke5 54 Rel+ Kd6 55 Rdl Ke5 56 Ba6 Kd5 57 Kel Ra2 58 BbS Ke5 59 Bd7 d3 60 BxfS Kd4 61 Rb Re2+ 62 Kfl d2 63 Be2 ReS 64 Ral Ke3 65 Be4 Rxe4 66 fxe4 Ke2 0-1 This was a real heavyweight scrap between two world-class grandmasters. Carlsen’s 14 ... Nd5! was a key move which ensured that Black enjoyed a fill share of the chances, and he then outplayed his opponent froma dynamically balanced position. Game 10 K.Wiacek-P.Coleman Correspondence 2007 We saw the idea of d4-d5 more than once in the notes to the previous game, with the general feeling being that Black should try to take steps against this plan. Here we'll see what happens if White plays it straight away affer 9 ... b6. 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Ne3 Bb4 4 €3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 N13 c5 7 0-0 dxe4 8 Bxc4 Nbd7 9 Qe? b6 10 451? This move leads to very sharp positions where knowledge of a few critical variations is required. Don’t worry though. Current theory suggests that Black is fine, and indeed few White players seem willing to travel down this line — perhaps because Black sacrifices a pawn and gets quite a lot of play in retum, One other move worth mentioning here is 10 dxcS which until recently was considered completely toothless in view of 10 ... Bxc3! 11 bxc3 Nxc5. The idea of answering dxc5 with .. Bxc3 is worth keeping in mind, as it crops up so often in the Nimzo- Indian, The position affer 11 ... Nxc5 is at least equal for Black, for these reasons: 1. The knight is firmly entrenched on an excellent outpost on c5; 2. White’s queenside pawns are split; and 3. Black’s pieces will be well coordinated after ... Bb7. The reason for some recent interest in 10 dxcS is the discovery, after 10 ... Bxc3, of the little in-between move 11 c6! —a theme of attacking the d7-knight we've already scen in a similar guise with dSxe6. This isn’t particularly scary for Black; it’s just a much better idea for White than allowing 11 bxc3 Nxc5! ‘The game A.Grischuk-S.Grigoriants, Mainz (rapid) 2009, continued 11 ... Bb4 12 cxd7 Qxd7 (the bishop wants to go to b7) 13 a3 Be7 14 e4!? Bb7 15 eS Nd5 16 Rdl Rfd8 17 Rd4 Rac8 with a roughly equal position. White will try to use his extra space on the kingside to build up an attack, but Black’s pieces — especially the knight on d5 — are well positioned for defence and counterattack. For White’s main choice, 10 Rdl, see the previous game. 10... Bxe3! Black should avoid 10 ... exdS 11 Nxd5 which, as we saw in similar examples in the previous game, leaves the bishop on b4 awkwardly placed. 11 dxe6! Once again this in-between capture is the tactical justification behind White’s d5 advance. 11... NeS! Akey move: Black is willing to sacrifice a pawn or two in order to seize the initiative. Question: What about 11 ... Ba5 here? Answer: Again the bishop on a5 isn't ideally placed but this does look playable for Black — at least it’s more favourable than 10 ... exd5 11 Nxd5. For example, 12 exd7 Qxd7 (the bishop wants to go to b7) 13 Ral Qe7 14 e4! (this is possible since taking on e4 allows tactics with Bg5 or Bd5) 14 ... Bg4 is a decent alternative to the text if Black for some reason doesn’t fancy the main line. 12 exf7+ White’s d-pawn continues its demolition act. 12 bxc3 avoids the complications but 12 ... NxB+ 13 QxB Bxe6 14 Bxe6 fxe6 gives Black no problems atall 12.... Kh8 Question: Why not 12 ... Nxf7? Answer: Black plans to capture on {7 at some point, but at the moment initiative is everything. 12 ... Nuxt7? loses a lot of momentum and after 13 bxc3 Black has no compensation for the pawn. 13 bxc3 Bg4! Exercise: Take a good look at this position and try to find White’s best move here. (Hint: Look at all of White’s pieces.) 3 ... Bg4 is a vital move for Black. The awkward pin on the {3-knight, coupled with the possibilty of smashing White’s kingside pawn cover, constitutes a major part of Black’s compensation for his two-pawn ‘investment, Answer: 14 e4t White absolutely must get his cl-bishop into the game to help with defence and 14 e4 is the only way to do so. A powerfil demonstration of what could happen to White if he fails to take Black’ initiative seriously was see in the game A.Slavin-P.Wells, London 2009: 14 h3?! NxB+ 15 gx Bxh3 16 Rel? (White should at least play 16 Rd1) 16 ... Ned! (threatening ... Qg5+ and mate) 17 # Qh4 (now it’s... Bg4-f3) 18 QB Rad8! (now it’s ... Rd6 if White captures on e4) 19 Bfl BS! 20 Bg? Rd6 and White was helpless against Black’s gathering attack — hardly a surprise given that White is virtually playing without the poor bishop on cl (remember: 14 e4!) and the rook on al. The game concluded 21 Kfl Rd2! (the poor bishop isn’t even protecting d2 properly) 22 Re2 Rdl+ 23 Rel Rxcl! (it certainly isn’t now!) 24 Raxcl Nd2+ 25 Ke2 Nxf3 and White resigned. 14 Ral is of course tempting, but in realty it only drives the queen to where she wants to go — e7. The €3-e4 advance is a much more crucial defensive move for White. 14. Qe7 Moving the queen to a better square, preparing ... Rad and indirectly attacking the e4-pawn which explains Wiacck’s next move. If, for example, 15 BE Black can play 15 ... Nxc4 16 Qxe4 Qxed with an equal position. 15 Rel 15... Rad’ This is logical, but it certainly isn’t Black’s only move to press for an attack on the kingside. In fact the most commonly played move here has been 15 ... b5!? offering yet another pawn in order to deflect the bishop ffom its defence of {7. The assessment from many games played seems to be that Black enjoys sufficient activity to compensate for the pawns. An example: 16 BxbS Nh5 17 BgS (another line is 17 Bc4 Qf 18 Bg5! Bxf3 19 Bx Bxe2 20 Bd5! gxf5 21 Bxa8 Bd3 22 BdS N#& with equal chances) 17... Qe6 18 Qe3 BxB 19 gx Qxf7 20 Be? h6 21 4! Nxft 22 Bx&l Qxf 23 Radl Rae8 24 RdS Qh4 25 Rél Ng6 26 BB Re6 27 RxcS Qe7! 28 RdS Nh4! 29 Bdl (not 29 Bhl Rg6+) 29 ... Rxed and in view of White’s open king, Black still maintains good play for the pawn, H.Lehnhoff-H.Faber, correspondence 2005. 16 Bf4 Bxf3 17 gxf3 NhS! Exercise: Try to work out Black’s best answers to both 18 Bg3 and 18 Be3. This is an inspired move by Coleman, He realizes that an attack on the kingside must take preference over capturing the f7-pawn. Affer 17 ... Nxf7 Black loses some momentum, and following 18 Bxf7 Qxf7 19 Bg3 NhS 20 RadI! White is probably a shade better. 18 BxeS Answer: If 18 Bg3 Black has the decoy tactic 18 ... Rd2!, the rook being immune because of the fork on 8. White can actually hang on with 19 Qfl, although then 19 ... NxB+ 20 Kg2 bS! is still good for Black, e.g, 21 BdS Nxel+ 22 Qxel Qg5. If 18 Be3 Black can exploit the bishop’s absence from the other side of the divide, with 18 ... Qh4!. One of Black’s ideas is ... Rd6, but 19 Rad1 — to prevent this — runs into an even stronger idea: 19 ... Qh3! and there is no defence to the knight coming to 8. 18 ... QxeS ‘The exchange of bishop for knight on e5 means two things. It won't be at all easy for Black to capture the pawn on f7 and so activate the rook on f8. On the other hand, White has completely given up the fight for the dark squares, and the knight on £ will be a dominating beast offering Black all sorts of attacking possibilities. 19 Kh Nf4 20 Qe3 Rd6! A crucial move, introducing numerous threats on the kingside. 21 Rgl! White must defend accurately here. For example, 21 Rad1? loses immediately to 21 ... Qg5 22 Bl (or 22 Rgl Rxd1) 22 ... Re6. 21 wu RAG Exercise: Find a win for Black if White plays 22 Bfl. 22 Rg3! Answer: If 22 Bfl??, Black can force mate with a rook sacrifice: 22 ... Rxh2+! 23 Kxh2 QhS+ 24 Kg3 Qe5+ 25 Kh2 Qh4+ 26 Bh3 Qxh3 mate. But not 22 ... N45? 23 €! and White survives. 22 vu QS Yet Ordinarily we would say that a draw agreement in such a complicated position would be extremely premature. However, such is the accuracy of the analysis in correspondence chess, it’s lixely that both players would have worked out the variations way in advance of this final position. A plausibk finish would be 22 ... Qh5 23 h3 Nxh3 24 Kg? Qh4! 25 Kfl Nf 26 Rdl Qhl+ 27 Rel Qh2! (threatening to win with 28 ... Rg6! 29 Rxg6 Ixg6) 28 Re3! (preventing the threat due to Qxf) 28 ... QhI+ 29 Rel Qh2 with a repetition of moves. Game 11 A.Onischuk-P.Eljanoy Aerosvit, Foros 2007 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 €3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 0-0 dxc4 8 Bxc4 Nbd7 933 This pawn push is the main alternative to 9 Qe2. White asks what the black bishop is going to do. 9. exd4! 10 axb4! Question: Why the exclamation marks for both moves? Answer: There’s some subtle positional play involved here, with both sides aiming to get a favourable pawn structure, Eljanov is willing to exchange bishop for knight but wants to reach the kind of structure we saw in Lautier- Carlsen, so he tries to flick ina pawn exchange first with 9 ... cxd4. If 10 exd4?! Bxc3! 11 bxc3 Qe7 Black gets what he wants — something like Lautier-Carlsen. In fact he gets something slightly better than that, an improved version as White has spent a move on a2-a3. An example: 12 Qd3 b6 13 Rel Bb7 14 Ba Rac8 15 Bb2. Exercise: Try to find a good move for Black. (Hint: Remember Black’s ideas outlined in the Lautier-Carlen game.) Answer: With 15 ... Bd5! Black aims to exchange the light-squared bishops, which is nearly always a good idea. Afier 16 Nd2 Bxa2 17 Rxa2 R&8 18 Qe2 Black was able to exploit White’s temporary discoordination with 18 ... e5! in J.Peters-Rogoff, Oberlin 1975, The game continued 19 NB (19 dxe5?! Nuxe5 20 QxeS? Re8! is the point of Black’s idea) 19 ... exd4 20 Nxd47! (20 cxd4 is better) 20 ... Re8 21 Qdl Rxel+ 22 Qxel Re8 23 Qdl Ne5 24 h3 Nd3! 25 NB Qe4 26 Qbl Ne4 27 Bal Nel! and White resigned on account of 28 Re2 Ne2+ 29 Kh2 Qe7+ 30 g3 Nx. Retuming to our main game, Onischuk’s 10 axb4! doesn’t allow Black to get what he wants. Instead Onischuk changes the pawn structure. He’ll still be left with a backward c-pawn, but on the other hand the a- file is opened and the al-rook activated. Question: How about 9 ... Bxc3 10 bxc3 and only then 10 ... exd4? Answer: The difference with this move order is that White can play 11 cxd4! — capturing towards the centre! — with an excellent position: two bishops and a strong solid centre. Black does better to keep the tension with 10 ... b6 but 11 Bd3 Bb7 12 Rel is stil quite nice for White. Question: Finally, could Black capture on d4 a move earlier (on move 8), so solving the a2-a3 issue? Answer: Indeed he can and 8 ... exd4 9 exd4 is another major line of the Nimzo-Indian. But it’s swings and roundabouts. A big advantage for Black in the Parma Variation is that White’s dark-squared bishop is blocked in — at least temporarily — and so White’s active development options are reduced; whereas after 8 ... oxd4 9 exd4 it’s not. White will develop quickly with BgS and probably forgo a2-a3. Before moving on, it’s worth mentioning the interesting option of 8 ... Nbd7 9 a3 BaS!? which has been played by some grandmasters, including Carlen and Adams. Black’s subtle point is to meet 10 Qe2 with 10 cxd4 11 exd4 Bxc3! 12 bxc3 Qc7 and we’ve got something similar to Lautier-Carlsen again, with Black’s “wasted” move ... BaS counterbalanced by White’s “wasted” a2-a3. This is certainly worth considering if you prefer this type of position to the one we get in our main game. ‘fier that long discussion on move orders, let’s return to the game and the position after Onischuk’s 10 axb4: 10 ... dxe3 11 bxc3 Qe7 ‘Again we see this typical queen move, hitting the bishop and the c3-pawn behind it. 12. Qbs! EUS Be £t¥a tit ‘ia | ae Exercise: Work out a way for Black to complete his development. 12 Qb3! not only protects the bishop but also the c3-pawn so the bishop can safely retreat (for this reason 12 Qe? is inferior). White has another option here: to offer the c-pawn as a sacrifice. 12 Be2!? Qxc3 13 Ba3 certainly seems like reasonable compensation for White in view of the bishop pair and his activity. However, Black is defensively quite solid, has no real weaknesses and theory considers the position to be merely unclear. A recent example: 13 ... Nd5 14 Qb1 Qf 15 Bd3 h6 16 b5 Rd8 17 Bb2 Qe7 18 Ra4 b6 (deviating from 18 .. NeS 19 Bh7+ Kh8 20 Rh4 46 played in the stem game V.Kranmik-G.Kasparov, World Ch. (Game 12), London 2000) 19 Bh7+ Kh8 20 Rh4, and now instead of 20 ... N7f 21 NeS Bd7 22 Ba3! Qe8 23 Bd3 which was a bit unpleasant for Black in L.Aronian-S.Karjakin, Nice (rapid) 2010, Black could have improved considerably with 20 ... e5!. Ifthen 21 Be4 Bb7 22 Rd Black has 22 ... NcS! intending to meet 23 Nxe5? with the trick 23 ... Nc3! 24 Bxc3 Bxe4, as indicated by Golubev. Answer: 12 .. Nb6t 2 ... b6 and ... Bb7 is also very sensible but Eljanov chooses another way to develop; perhaps a more logical one given the circumstances. After the bishop retreats, Black plans to develop his c8-bishop with... e5 and ... Be6, gaining time in the process by attacking White’s queen. 13 Be2 13 Bd3 would be weaker, as after 13 ... e5 White would have to deal with the threat of... ¢4 forking Exercise: Try to find a strong positional move for White here. Answer: 14 RaSt Onischuk fully utilizes the newly opened a-file. This rook move is nnuli-purpose: 1. The rook attacks the e5-pawn; 2. It prepares the doubling of rooks to increase the pressure on the a-file; and 3. It opens up possibilities on the fifth rank, including Res to attack the queen and shield the c-pawn. White would like to advance with c3-c4 at some moment, but after the immediate 14 c4 Be6! it’s difficuk for White to defend the pawn. Even $0, this is stil possible for White, c.g. 15 Bb2 Nxo4 16 Riel Nxb2 17 Qxb2 Qb6 18 NxeS Rée8 with a fairly level position. 14... Be6 There's no point delaying this move, the logical follow-up to 13 ... e5. 15 Qe2 Exercise (multiple choice): How should Black defend against the threat to the e5-pawn? The choices are: a) 15 ... e4; b) 15 ... Nbd7; c) 15 ... Nfa7. Answer: 15... Nbd7 If you opted for 15 ... NfI7 so as to maintain the bind on the c4-square created by ... Nb6 and ... Be6, there’s a sound positional logic to your choice. Unfortunately, there’s a major tactical flaw to 15 ... Nfi7 in that it allows 16 Ng5! hitting h7 and ¢6, getting rid of Black’s bishop and completely ruining his structure after 16 ... 96 17 Nxe6 tkeb, 15 ... e4 isn’t as good as the text move. White’s knight could jump into the strong outpost on d4 Black has just given away or play 16 Ng5 hitting e4 and e6, in either case with an edge for White. 16 c4t With a black knight no longer on b6, Onischuk takes his chance to advance the c-pawn. 16 Ng5 would now be a mistake, met by 16 ... Bc4! with a clamp on the c4-square. 16... b6 Ejjanov first kicks the rook from a5 and then attacks c4. 17 Ra6 Rfc8 18 Nd2 Exercise: Try to find a constructive plan for Black in this position. (Hint: Look for a hidden pawn break.) With 18 Nd2 we've reached a critical moment in the game. White plans to play Bb2 and then increase the pressure by doubling rooks on the a-fle, with some advantage. Eljanov’s comes up with a plan to liberate his position: Answer: 18 ... BAS! Blick fanchettoes this bishop affer all! Now that domination of the c4~square is no longer likely, the long diagonal is the best place for this bishop. More specifically, Black is intending to play ... Bb7 to force the rook backwards, and then the key move ... a5!. This pawn advance: 1. Challenges White’s space advantage on the queenside created by the c4/b4 pawn front; 2. Creates a passed pawn supported by the rook on a8; and 3. Results in the creation of an excellent outpost on ¢5 for a black knight, which firmly blockades the c4- pawn and controls a number of key squares. 18 ... Nb8 has similar motives but is less effective for obvious reasons — the knight has left ts ideal spot on 7 and no longer covers c5. By the time Black organized his position after 19 Ra3 a5 20 Bb2 Ne6 21 b5 Ne7 in V.Kramnik-V.Anand, Wijk aan Zee 2001, White was ready to grab the initiative on the kingside with 22 1 Nd7 23 NB BB 24 Qc3 Ng6 25 Ng5! Ne5 26 BB, with some advantage. 18 ... Qb7! with similar ideas is a stronger alternative, and 19 bS (or 19 Ral b5!? 20 cS a5 21 RxaS Rxa5 22 bxaS Nxc5 with a roughly equal position) 19 ... Nc5 20 Ra3 a6 21 bxa6 Rxa6 22 Rxa6 Qxa6 23 Bb2 Nfll7 24 Ral Qb7 25 BB Qc7 was very solid for Black in J.Lautier-V.Anand, Cap d’Agde (rapid) 2003. 19 13 Bb7 20 Ra3 aS! Eljanov has successfully executed his main plan and Black can be content with the outcome of the opening and early middlegame. 21 bxaS bxaS 22 Bb2 NeS 23 Nb3 Nfd7! Blcck is happy to exchange a pair of knights but wants his remaining knight to perch on c5. 24 NxeS Nxe5 Black’s position is very solid, his pieces are well placed and there is a clear-cut plan of pushing forward on the queenside. Given this situation, Onischuk reacts wisely. He tries to open up the position for his pieces, especially the bishop pair, even if this means he has to accept weaknesses — and a stronger black bishop ~ in return. In high-level chess it’s difficult to get something for nothing! 25 £41? Bed! Sacrificing a pawn to keep the al-h8 diagonal blocked and to weaken White’s structure further. The game remains complicated, but Black’s position is probably easier to play and Eljanov slowly gains control. 26 Qc3 Re8 27 fxe5 a4 28 Rf4 Rab8 29 Bfl Bc6 30 Qc2 Ne6 31 Rf2 Rb7 32 Bd3 h6 33 BSS Reb8 34 Bc3 Qe7 35 Ral Qh4 36 Qa3 Rb3 37 Bxe6 fxe6 38 Qg6 Qe4 39 xed Bxed 40 Bd4 Black’s more active pieces and his strong outside passed pawn mean that he is the one pushing to win this ending despite White’s extra (but fairly useless) pawn. We've passed the main points of interest in this game and the eventful remainder is covered only very briefly: 40 ... R8b4 41 Rfa2 Be6 42 c5 Kf7 43 Kf2 Kg6 44 Rfl KfS 45 Kg3+ Kg6 46 Kft? Khs! Out ofnowhere White has fillen into a mating trap — ... Rxd4+ followed by ... g5 —and must give up an exchange to survive. 47 RB g5+ 48 Kg3 Re4 49 h3 Bxf3 50 gxf3 a3 51 Rh2 Rel RbI! 52 h4 Rel+ 53 Kf Rxd4! 54 exd4 a2 is one way to win. Instead Eljanov drifts, misses a few ‘wins and ends up only drawing. 52 h4 Kg6 53 hxgS bxg5 54 Rh8 Rd3 55 Re8+ Kf7 56 Ra8 Kg6 57 Re8+ Kh7 58 Ra8 Re2 59 Rxa3 Rgl+ 60 Kh3 Rhi+ 61 Kg3 Rgl+ 62 Kh3 Reg? 63 f4 g4+ 64 Kh4 Kg6 65 Ra8 65... Rgl Bleck still has excellent chances to win afler 65 ... K5! 66 R&+ Kes threatening ... Rh2+. 66 Rg8+ 66 5+! almost tums the tables, with Black suddenly the one fighting to draw. He manages to do so after 66 ... Kh6! (66 ... Kxf5? loses to 67 04+, while after 66 ... exf5? 67 Ra6+ K#7 68 Kg5 the fastest passed pawn is the one on e5) 67 Rh8+ Kg7 68 Ra8 Kh! as indicated by Krasenkow. 66 ... Kh6 67 Rh8+ Kg7 68 Ra8 Kh6 It’s gone well past the stage of “easy”, but Black can still win here with 68 ... g3! 69 Kg Rhl! 70 Ra7+ K88 71 Ra8+ Ke7 72 Ra7+ Ka8 73 c6 Rxd4! (Krasenkow). 69 Rh8+ Kg6 70 Rg8+ Kh6 71 Rh8+ Kg7 72 Ra8 Kh6 %4-/% This game involved some extremely subtle positional play by both sides, so don’t worry too mmch if you found some of the exercises tough going. Eljanov’s 18 ... Bd5!, 19 ... Bb7 and 20 ... a5! was a key plan which liberated Black’s position and ensured at least an equal share of the chances. Game 12 A.Chamorro Areses-M.Versili Correspondence 2003 In this game we'll finish off our study of the Parma Variation by looking at a few alternatives to 9 Qe2 and 9 a3. 1 c4 Nf6 2 d4 e6 3 Ne3 Bb4 4 €3 0-0 5 Nf3 c5 6 Bd3 d5 7 0-0 dxe4 8 Bxe4 Nbd7 9 Qh3 This queen move has similar motives to 9 Qe2, with the rook ready to come to dl. Question: Arc there any important differences between 9 Qb3 and 9 Qe2? Answer: The obvious one is that the queen attacks the bishop which would become en prise if Black plays ... xd4. This doesn’t rule out ... cxd4, of course, as the pawn capture attacks the knight on c3 so Black wouldn't lose a piece. To discover some other differences between 9 Qb3 and 9 Qe2, ket’s see how the game unfolds. First, though, here’s a brief summary of less popular moves: a) 9 Bd2 is a bit toothless and doesn’t really challenge Black enough. 9 ... exd4 10 exd4 b6 11 a3 Bxc3 12 bxc3 reaches the same pawn structure as Lautier-Carlsen, and 12 ... Bb7 13 Qe2 Ned! 14 Riel Re8 15 Bd3 Nxd2 16 Nxd2 gave Black a very comfortable position in V.Akobian-Y.Shulman, San Francisco 2002. With ... Ne4xd2 he managed to exchange a pair of minor pieces which as we know is a major strategic aim for Black. b) 9 Bd3 b6 10 a3 cxd4! kads to positions similar to some we've already seen, depending on which capture White makes. For example: bl) 11 axb4 dxc3 12 bxc3 Bb7 13 Bb2 Qc7 14 Qe2 Ng#! 15 e4 RUB 16 Rill NdeS 17 NxeS Nxe5 with level chances, V.Korchnoi-V. Topaloy, Batumi 1999. b2) 11 exd4 Bxc3 (Black can also play an IQP position with 11 ... Be7) 12 bxc3 Qc7 13 Bd2 (if 13 4 then 13 ... Ba6! gives White problems with his c-pawn) 13 ... Bb7 14 Rel Rie8. Here 15 Qe2 would reach a position very similar to one we discussed in the Lautier-Carlsen game. White can also play more directly with 15 NeS Rad8 16 4!? Nf8 17 Qc2 Nd5 18 15 ex® 19 Bx, as in B,Gulko-E.Lobron, Manila 1990, and here 19 ... Ng6! (Gulko) would have given Black a fill share of the chances. ©) 9 Ne2 cxd4 10 Nexd4 e5!? (10 ... Qc7 is a solid alternative and 11 Be2 Rd8 12 Bd2 BR 13 Rel Qb6 14 Qc2 NeS 15 NeS Nee4 was equal in J.Speelman-A.Beliavsky, Reykjavik 1991) 11 Qb3 Bd6 12 NB Ne 13 Qc? e4 (13 ... BxfS 14 QxB e4 15 Nd4 Rc8 is interesting, and if 16 Bd2 Nd3 17 Bxd3 Black has the zwischenzug 17 ... Re5! 18 Qh3 Rh5!) 14 Nxd6 Qxd6 15 Rdl Qe7 16 Nd4 Bed 17 B exB 18 gxB Bd7 19 b3 Rfe8 with a roughly equal position, V.Ivanchuk-J.Dorfinan, Cap d’Agde (rapid) 1998. Let’s return to the game and the position after 9 Qb3: 9. a6 ‘Threatening to expand on the qucenside with ... bS, which is something White normally prevents. 9 ... b6 is also playable and is likely to lead to similar positions to the main game. 10a4 Exercise: The main point of a2-a4 is to prevent ... b5, but it alo opens up an easy-to-miss idea for White. ‘Try to guess what this is, (Hint: What square has just been vacated?) 10 a3 BaS (10 ... Bxc3 11 bxc3 bS 12 Be2 Bb7 looks like a good alternative) 11 dxc5 (otherwise ... b5 is coming) 11 ... Nxc5 12 Qc2 (threatening b4) 12 ... Ned7!? 13 b4 Bc7 14 Ral bS! 15 Be2 Bb7 16 Bb2 Qb8! 17 a4 bxa4 18 Rxad Re8! 19 h3 NeS was good for Black in L.Pachman-M.Najdorf, Moscow 1967. He’s well coordinated and the bishops point dangerously at White’s kingside. 10... D6 With ... b5 prevented, Versili reverts to Plan A and the typical ... b6 and... Bb7 fianchetto. Another, more common, choice is to adopt a wait-and-see policy with 10 ... Qe7, and Black should equalize with this approach. For example, 11 Rdl h6 12 Bd2 Rb8 13 a5 (if 13 d5 Nb6!) 13 ... b5! 14 axb6 Rxb6 15 Qc2 cxd4 16 Nxd4 NeS 17 Nad Nxa4 18 Rxa4 Bxd2 19 Qxd2 Bb7, A.Beliavsky-J.Gustafison, Austrian Leagne 2007. Answer: 10 a4 creates the hidden possibility of Na2!, trying to embarrass the b4-bishop. At the moment it’s not a threat since the bishop can retreat to a5 without any harm being done, but it’s worth remembering this idea as it’s easy to overlook. For example, if 10 ... QaS?! then 11 Na2! is a strong reply: 11 ... bS 12 Bd3 (12 Be2 might be even better) 12... Bb7 (if 12 ... bxa4 then 13 Nxb4 axb3 14 RxaS cxb4 15 Bd2 Rb8 16 Rad regaining the pawn with Black’s other queenside pawns remaining vulnerable) 13 Nxb4 c4!? 14 Qa3 cxd3 15 Nxd3 and White was a pawn up in S.Arun Prasad-B.Adhiban, New Delhi 2010. 1d Chapter Four Rubinstein Variation: 4 e3 Other Lines 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 In this chapter we'll cover alternatives to the mainline Rubinstein, $ Bd3 d5 6 NB cS 70-0. White has a number of interesting options and they lead to a variety of different positions and pawn structures: a) 5 Bd3 d5 6 a3 is a clever idea. White plays a super-delayed Siimisch Variation with Black committed to... d5. This means Black must choose a completely different approach to the one seen in Chapters 1 and 2. Luckily for Black, there are promising options for him here, as we see in Games 14-15. b) 5 Bd3 d5 6 cxd5 exd5 is a solid option for White. By fixing the central pawn structure very quickly, White eliminates some of dynamism from the position and aims for a slow manoeuvring game (see Game 16). ©) 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nge2 is another reasonable option. White develops the king’s knight to e2 which, as we'll see, is a common place for itn this chapter (see Game 17). ¢) Last, but certainly not least, there’s the immediate 5 Nge2 — the Reshevsky Variation. At first sight it looks a litle odd to block the fl-bishop’s development, but this is not a bad line for White and certainly better than it looks! See Games 18-19. Game 14 Nguyen Ngoc Truongson-M.Adams Dresden Olympiad 2008 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 a3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3