Openings According to Me #1: 4.Qc2 Nimzo-Indian - 5.e4 Line Part One


The Nimzo-Indian is a highly respected opening used by many grandmasters, today I will look at one of the most critical lines. Here is the variation I will look at:

This variation is very sharp and one should know this variation very well if one wants to play the Nimzo.

Before we get into theory, let me talk about the 4.Qc2 Nimzo. The point behind Qc2 is two-fold - sometimes white will play for a big center with e4 at some point. Black will attempt to chop up the big center with either a d5 or c5 pawn push (or sometimes d6 followed by e5). The other point behind Qc2 is that sometimes white will decide he wants the bishop pair without getting a damaged pawn structure; in that case black can grab hold of the e4 square and stop white from getting a big center:

How should black meet 5.e4 though? Like I said, the big center is vunerable to d5 and c5 breaks:

Black's plan now will be simple - take on d4 and then tie down white to the defense of the pawn; after white defends it, black will have two different philosophic options to handle the position:

 10...Ndc5 Plan

10...Qh4 Plan
Black can either play 10...Ndc5 going after the light-squared bishop or 10...Qh4 trying to create weaknesses on the kingside. Let's look at 10...Ndc5 first. The first question is how should black play? Well there are two main plans after white plays the normal 11.0-0: to either grab the light-squared bishop with 11...Nxd3 and then deface white's pawn structure with 12...Bxc3 or to keep his knight and instead play 11...Bxc3 12.bxc3 Bd7 followed by going after the weak c3 pawn with Na4. Here are those two plans visually:
 Now both exd5 and Qxd5 have been played. Here is a couple of example games with both recaptures:
Example Game: 14...exd5
Example Game: 14...Qxd5

Now lets look at black's other plan:
Now white has three main options - 15.c4, 15.Bd3, or 15.f3. Here are three games which show an example of each:
Example Game: 15.c4
Example Game: 15.Bd3
Example Game: 15.f3

So that is 10...Ndc5; overall it is a very good variation for black with straightforward plans. That is all I will show for Part One. Part Two will focus on 10...Qh4 instead of 10...Ndc5.
I hope you all have enjoyed this article on a critical variation of the Nimzo-Indian. Please let me know your thoughts and any improvements I should make on the article. Thank You.