Openings for Tactical Players: Nimzo-Indian Defense

Openings for Tactical Players: Nimzo-Indian Defense‎

GM Gserper
31 | Tactics

When a famous Grandmaster Aron Nimzowitch invented a new defense against 1.d4 which was later named after him, the new hyper modern opening took the chess world by storm.  Many chess players were attracted by this solid, positional opening which would also provide excellent chances for counter play. The idea of the opening (1.d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4) is deceptively simple and yet very deep.  Black tries to put the key e4 square under firm control (frequently he even plays b6 and Bb7 to increase his pressure there) and therefore, due to his inability to play e3-e4 White's Bc1 becomes very passive. Nimzowitch himself won many games where his opponents were unable to break the blockade (one of Nimzowitch's most beloved concepts!).

White has many different systems to deal with the Nimzo-Indian defense, but one of the most aggressive lines was invented by German GM Fritz Saemisch.  He simply played 4.a3 allowing Black to double the White pawns by 4...Bxc3+ 5. bxc3. This line can be considered sort of a gambit.  In a regular gambit one side sacrifices material to achieve certain goals.  Here White allows Black to severely damage his Queen's side pawn structure, so most of the endgames will be simply lost for White. But as GM Tartakower once said: " God created a middle game between an opening and an endgame". So what does White get in return for his positional sacrifice? He gets two Bishops that can be potentially very dangerous, an opportunity to create a very strong pawn center by playing f3 and e4, and eventually a Kingside attack.

Lets look at a game where GM Saemisch created a text book example of White's attack. Try to find how Fritz Saemisch delivered the final blow. (Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list".)



GM David Bronstein won many beautiful games with the Saemisch variation.  In the next game he introduced a new idea which later became typical for similar positions.
It is only natural that Black tried to stop the e4 advance by playing d5.  The move has two drawbacks:  1) It allows White to un-double his pawns by c4 x d5, 2) It doesn't stop the e4 advance, as was shown in the famous game Botvinnik-Capablanca, Amsterdam, 1938.  This is such an important strategical concept that I am planning to devote a separate article to it.  Here I just want to show two brilliant attacks.  In one of them White followed Botvinnik's footsteps and pushed e3-e4 and in the second game White used his 'g' pawn to demolish Black's defense.
Many famous Grandmasters employed the Saemisch variation as their main weapon against the Nimzo-Indian defense.  (Just check last week's column:
to see two brilliant attacks by GM Lilienthal in the Saemisch variation).
If you start a game with 1.d4 and always wondered how to break the ultra solid Nimzo-Indian defense, give the Saemich variation a try. I truly hope you'll like it!
Good luck!
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