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The Nimzo-Indian Defense: 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4
Other move orders, such as 1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.d4 Bb4, are also feasible. In the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings scheme, the Nimzo-Indian is classified as E20-E59.
This hypermodern opening was developed by Grandmaster Aron Nimzowitsch who introduced it to master-level chess in the early 20th century. Unlike most Indian openings the Nimzo-Indian does not involve an immediate fianchetto, although Black often follows up with ...b6 and ...Bb7. By pinning White's knight Black prevents the threatened 4.e4 and seeks to inflict doubled pawns on White. White will attempt to create a pawn center and develop his pieces to prepare for an assault on the Black position.
Black's delay in committing to a pawn structure makes the Nimzo-Indian (sometimes colloquially referred to as the "Nimzo") a very flexible defence to 1.d4. It can also transpose into lines of the Queen's Gambit or Queen's Indian Defence. The Nimzo-Indian is a highly-respected defence to 1.d4, is played at all levels and has been played by every world champion since Capablanca. White often plays 3.g3 or 3.Nf3 to avoid the Nimzo-Indian, allowing him to meet 3.Nf3 Bb4+ (the Bogo-Indian Defence) with 4.Bd2 or 4.Nbd2, rather than 4.Nc3.
In the Nimzo-Indian, Black is often prepared to concede the bishop pair by playing ...Bxc3. In compensation, he usually doubles White's c-pawns, which represent a static weakness, and gains play against the central light squares d5 and e4, even in those instances where White is able to recapture with a piece after ....Bxc3. Black will aim to close the position to reduce the scope of White's bishops. To this end, Black must blockade the white pawn center from advancing and neutralize White's attacking chances on the kingside. An example of Black's strategy carried out successfully is the classic game Mikhail Botvinnik - Samuel Reshevsky from the 1948 World Championship Match-Tournament, which reached the position in the diagram after White's 24th move.
Earlier in the game, Reshevsky was able to block White's kingside attack by playing ...Nf6-e8 and ...f7-f5. Now, both White's bishops are reduced to passive defence, and White's queen must go to the miserable a2-square to defend both the pawns on a3 and c4. Without any prospects for counterplay, White's game is strategically hopeless, and Black ultimately traded queens and won the endgame.
The Rubinstein System (named after Akiba Rubinstein) is White's most common method of combating the Nimzo-Indian. Svetozar Gligorić and Lajos Portisch made great contributions to the theory and practice of this line at top level during their careers. White continues his development before committing to a definite plan of action. In reply, Black has three main moves to choose from: 4...0-0, 4...c5, and 4...b6.
In addition, Black sometimes plays 4...d5 or 4...Nc6. 4...d5 can transpose to lines arising from 4...0-0, but White has the extra option of 5.a3 (known as the Botvinnik Variation). This forces Black to retreat the bishop to e7 or capture on c3, which transposes to a line of the Sämisch Variation long considered good for White because he will undouble his pawns at some point by playing cxd5, eliminating the weak pawn on c4, then prepare the e4 pawn break, backed by the bishop pair, which will gain force in the more open type of position which will ensue. 4...Nc6 is the Taimanov Variation, named after Russian GM Mark Taimanov. Black prepares to play ...e5, which may be preceded by...d5 and ...dxc4, or ...d6. The variation was tried several times by the young Bobby Fischer, and has long been favoured by GM Nukhim Rashkovsky.
Black's most flexible and frequently played response is 4...0-0. The main line continues 5.Bd3 d5 6.Nf3 c5 7.0-0, reaching the position in the diagram.
White has completed his kingside development, while Black has claimed his share of the center. At this point, the most important continuations are:
In general, the main line of the Rubinstein has held up very well for Black, so since the 1980s White has begun to look elsewhere for chances of obtaining an advantage. In the Rubinstein, White has often resorted to playing Ne2 rather than Nf3 at some point to be able to recapture on c3 with the knight, thus avoiding the doubled pawns. Two lines where White does this (following 4.e3 0-0) are:
Black puts pressure on d4 and leaves open the option of playing ...d5, or ...d6 and ...e5. The game can still transpose to the main line mentioned above after moves such as 5.Bd3 d5 6.Nf3 0-0 7.0-0, but there are two major variations particular to 4...c5:
Favoured by Nimzowitsch, 4...b6 is a move in accordance with the spirit of the Nimzo-Indian: Black fianchettoes his light-squared bishop to increase his control over e4. White usually continues 5.Ne2, avoiding the doubled pawns, or 5.Bd3, continuing his development (5.Nf3 usually transposes to 5.Bd3). The main variations emerging from this move are:
Classical Variation (or Capablanca Variation) 4.Qc2
4.Nf3 is known as the Kasparov Variation, since Garry Kasparov used it to great effect against Anatoly Karpov in their 1985 World Championship match. Kasparov played 4.Nf3 six times, scoring three wins and three draws. Today as White, this is a favourite weapon of GM Alexei Barsov and former Women's Champion Nona Gaprindashvili.
White develops the knight to a natural square and waits to see Black's reply. 4...d5 transposes to the Ragozin Defence of the Queen's Gambit Declined and 4...b6 5.Bg5 Bb7 transposes to the Nimzo/Queen's Indian hybrid line, so 4...c5 is the most common move that stays within Nimzo-Indian territory. Now 5.e3 transposes to the Rubinstein System, but the main move is 5.g3, which leads to a position that also arises from the Fianchetto Variation. 5.g3 cxd4 6.Nxd4 0-0 7.Bg2 d5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 can be considered the main line. Black has dissolved White's center, but the bishop on g2 exerts pressure on the black queenside, which White may augment with 9.Qb3.
This line can also arise from the Bogo-Indian Defence 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+) if White blocks the check with 4.Nc3. Most Bogo-Indian players are also Nimzo-Indian players, but for those who are not, this transposition into the Nimzo is something they need to be prepared for.
Gheorghiu or Shirov Variation
4.f3 - This line is called the Gheorghiu Variation (a name given by Gligoric),who often played it early in his career, even defeating Fischer, and sometimes the Shirov Variation, after Alexei Shirov who used it with great success in the early 1990s, before he lost three consecutive games with the line and abandoned it. It is a straightforward attempt to seize control of e4, though at the cost of delaying development, and therefore attempts to refute Black's plan, which has been to play for control of the e4-square. Black's most common reply is 4...d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.cxd5 Nxd5, a position also reached from the Sämisch Variation. Black's pressure on c3 and d4 compels White to play 8.dxc5, trying to open the position for his two bishops. White will follow up with e4, and Black will counter with ...e5 at some point to prevent White from pushing his e- and f-pawns further up the board. Another approach for Black is to play 4...c5, after which White plays 5.d5 to keep his central pawns together reaches a Benoni-style position, and Black's main replies are 5...b5, 5...O-O, 5...Bxc3+ and 5...Nh5. 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 is a direct transposition to the Saemisch Variation below.
The Leningrad Variation
4.Bg5 - The Leningrad Variation received its name because its theory was developed extensively by players from that city, such as Boris Spassky. The main line runs 4...h6 5.Bh4 c5 6.d5 d6 7.e3 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 e5, when Black has achieved a Hübner Variation-like blockade, the difference being that White's dark-squared bishop is outside the pawn chain. The pin on the f6-knight is very annoying, and Black often finds himself compelled to break it by playing the drastic ...g7-g5, which also clamps down on a potential f2-f4 break by White. This move weakens Black's kingside, so he often will not castle, walking his king to c7 via d8. An interesting alternative to 6....d6 is ....b5, much played in the 1970s after Mikhail Tal scored a crushing win over Spassky at Tallinn 1973.
The Sämisch Variation
4.a3 - The Sämisch Variation (named after Fritz Sämisch) is a direct attempt to refute Black's strategic concept, as White gives up a tempo and concedes doubled c-pawns to gain the bishop pair. After 4...Bxc3+ 5.bxc3, Black has several possibilities, the most common of which is that he immediately begins to blockade the doubled pawns with 5....c5 and applies more pressure on the (often doomed) pawn at c4 with the moves ...Ba6, ...Nc6-a5 and ...Rc8. In the early days of this line, 5....d5 was frequently played, though it was soon realised that this enabled White to liquidate the weakness at c4, so the idea fell from favour, particularly after the game Botvinnik-Capablanca, AVRO 1938, and has never been revived at top level. As compensation, White establishes a powerful center, in order to play for a kingside attack before Black can make use of his static advantages. White has two main options for playing: he can move slowly into the center with 6.e3, or he can play 6.f3, followed by 7.e4 to take a quick hold in the center. In practice, however, Black has demonstrated that White's structural weaknesses are more serious than the attacking chances he gets, so this variation is rarely seen nowadays. The Sämisch Variation was employed five times by Mikhail Botvinnik against Tal in the 1960 World Chess Championship, with five draws resulting, and once in the 1961 rematch, with a win for White.
The Fianchetto Variation
4.g3 - The Fianchetto Variation resembles the Catalan System, where White fianchettoes his king's bishop to put pressure on the center squares from the flank. Black can play 4...c5 5.g3 with a position also reached from the Kasparov Variation (see above), but 4...d5 is possible as well. This is considered the strongest response, since if allowed, Black can take the pawn on c4 and often keep it. This is not usually possible in the Catalan, where White's knight is developed to d2 and can simply recapture on c4.
The Spielmann Variation
4.Qb3 - The Spielmann Variation is named after Rudolf Spielmann who played it at Carlsbad, 1929, and was played at GM level in the early 1930s, though soon eclipsed in popularity by 4.Qc2. Like the Classical Variation, it avoids the doubling of White's pawns. However, unlike 4.Qc2, the queen has no control over e4, which Black can exploit by playing 4...c5 5.dxc5 Nc6 6.Nf3 Ne4, for example. Thus, despite the occasional revival by GMs Vladimir Akopian, Vladimir Malaniuk and Jeroen Piket, this variation is also unusual.
The Dilworth Gambit
4.e4 - The Dilworth Gambit, named for Vernon Dilworth, who contributed an article on the variation to the March 1949 issue of CHESS magazine. Dilworth's idea was 4...Nxe4 5.Qg4 Nxc3 6.Bd2. However, White's compensation for the pawn is nebulous at best, and the line accordingly never developed a following beyond Dilworth himself. Chris Ward called the gambit "critical, but basically rubbish".
4.Bd2, unpinning the knight, is a move which is common among amateurs who have no theoretical knowledge when they face the Nimzo-Indian. Although the move is not bad, it is unambitious. The strategic aim of obtaining the bishop pair without conceding the doubled pawns fails, for after e.g., 4...Bxc3 5.Bxc3 Ne4, White does not get to keep both bishops, and fair trades are usually not in White's interests since White has an advantage in space.
The Mikenas Variation
4.Qd3 - The Mikenas Variation is named after Vladas Mikėnas. That supports the knight, and brings the queen to a central location, but the queen is exposed on d3, making this variation rare.
Nimzo-Indian Defense (<==click on)
THE NIMZO-INDIAN DEFENCE
BELYAVSKY GAMBIT IN THE NIMZO-INDIAN
sheeez. I use this stuff a lot!
Larry Evans vs. Bobby Fischer 1965, Nimzo-Indian, Rubinstein system
Good job Mike! Thank you. I'm learning a lot in this group.
Thanks; that's the goal, hopefuly.
Here's a link to a video playlist:
by kingscrusher - Webmaster
good job , excellent !
It's a good one to know both sides of.
Thanks Mikey bro, oh if I could only see!
This is a good one, Brian, for both black and white, as neither side, as you can see, has a clear advantage. It's a good defense for black, but there are an equally good counters for white. So with best play, either who ever knows the opening better usually wins, otherwise, it's decided in the middle game or end game.
Nimzo-Indian is the first one I'll study for sure.
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