Bogo-Indian Defense

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+

In the Bogo-Indian Defense, named for GM Efim Bogoljubow, Black develops the kingside quickly. As with most hypermodern openings, the "Bogo" (as it is known informally) seeks to fight for central squares with pieces before occupying them with pawns.

Starting Position

The Bogo-Indian begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+. Variations branch out depending on how White blocks the check. 


  • Fairly simple to play
  • Strategic and sound
  • Not very theoretical


  • White can sometimes get the two bishops
  • White often maintains a space advantage
  • Not very sharp


4.Qd2?? is an embarrassing mouseslip, while 4.Nfd2?! moves an already-developed piece. That leaves three serious moves, one of which, 4.Nc3, transposes into a variation of the Nimzo-Indian Defense.

There are a few variations based on the remaining two theoretically-independent moves, 4.Bd2 and 4.Nbd2.


White's most popular move offers a trade of dark-squared bishops. Black has several responses to this move. In order of popularity:

  • 4...Qe7, the Nimzowitsch Variation. White usually fianchettoes and gets castled kingside, as is common in most lines of the Bogo.
  • 4...a5, the Wade-Smyslov Variation. White does not want to capture on b4 and open the a-file for Black's rook.
  • 4...c5, the Vitolins Variation. This time White generally does capture on b4, since Black captures away from the center, even though black pawn on b4 takes c3 away from White's knight.
  • 4...Bxd2+, the Exchange Variation. This move used to be more popular and was used by GM Ulf Andersson.
  • 4...Be7, the Retreat Variation. This and the exchange variation are rather rare because they move the bishop a second time, although they are fine given d2 isn't a great square for White's bishop.
Bogo-Indian Defense
Many fine moves.

4.Nbd2 (aka Grunfeld Variation)

If White does not want to enter the Nimzo-Indian or to develop the bishop to d2, 4.Nbd2 is played. White usually follows up with 5.a3 to try and pick up the two bishops, where Black can either acquiesce or retreat.

Black has three main responses to 4.Nbd2.

  • 4...b6. The fianchetto of the light-squared bishop puts pressure on the e4-square.
  • 4...O-O. Black simply completes kingside development.
  • 4...d5. With the white knight on d2 this is sort of a better version of the Queen's Gambit Declined for Black. After 5.Qa4+ Nc6, Black keeps the bishop.
Bogo-Indian Defense
White gives Black fewer legitimate options but hasn't forced Black to deal with an attack on the b4-bishop.


The Bogo-Indian has always been somewhat of a sideline, with the Queen's Indian Defense (3...b6) being more popular as well as transposing into the Queen's Gambit Declined (3...d5). Although it has been played a few times in Candidates tournaments, it has never been seen in a world championship match.

Bogoljubow himself played it six times with Black, scoring only +1 -3 =2.


Learn The Bogo Indian Defense

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ leads to the strategically rich Bogo Indian Defense. Learn the key ideas and tactics for both sides.
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