Working on the Nimzo-Indian Defense: Part One

Many players choose to face the Queen’s Indian rather than the Nimzo-Indian, delaying Nc3. I like the strategic positions of the Nimzo and I know I’ll need to learn them anyway; the sooner the better. I’ve picked up David Vigorito’s Challenging the Nimzo-Indian and I am very impressed. I didn’t have to read very far before I found a variation for which to aim; it will be a sort-of road map as I learn the defense. I always start my preparation by learning the theoretical endgames emerging from a particular position.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 b6 7. Bg5 Bb7 8.
f3 h6 9. Bh4 d5 10. e3 Nbd7 11. cxd5 Nxd5 12. Bxd8 Nxc3 13. Bh4 Nd5 14. Bf2

Position after 14. Bf2

So I plan to play this endgame in correspondence chess until I can become proficient in it. This may seem silly, what’re the chances I’m going to get to this position when it’s fourteen moves deep? Yes, there are other options for black, but the thematic queen trade comes up in lines after 8…c5 as well.

Another reason I’ve chosen this approach is that takes advantage of 4. Qc2, which provides me a way to avoid structural weaknesses. White has some choices about which type of game he wants to play. Black will have to play on my terms and challenge me in an endgame.

Admittedly I’m still developing an understanding of the position. I’m looking at black’s fourth-move alternatives to 4…0-0.  I’m starting with c5 because it is the most common. Here’s what I expect to see a lot:

4. Qc2 c5  5. dxc5 (forced, since white will lose the first-move advantage if he plays defensively, to support his pawn.)

5…O-O 6. a3 Bxc5 7. Nf3 Nc6 8. Bg5 Nd4 9. Nxd4 Bxd4 10. e3 Qa5 11. exd4 Qxg5 12. Qd2

Position after 12. Qd2

The lines after 4…d5 resemble those of the Ragozin System, which I face as a Queen’s Gambit player. There shouldn’t be anything new there. After learning the main lines I’ll focus on the sidelines. I’ll repeat the same strategy after each subsequent move, with an eye towards favorable endgames. We’ll learn a little bit more in future installments of this series.




3 thoughts on “Working on the Nimzo-Indian Defense: Part One

  1. Hi !

    I’ve been on both the white side and the black side of the Qc2 Nimzo. I just wanted to point out that in the 4…c5 variation, systems with …b6 are probably more popular than the Nc6-Nd4 variation you’ve looked at.

    However, 4…c5 is probably much less popular than 4…0-0 and 4…d5 these days.

  2. Thanks for the comment! So the queen’s bishop goes to b7 and black uses b6, and c5? If you can point me to any resources that would help me learn the lines I’d sure appreciate it. Do the lines have independent value or are they identical to QID positions?

  3. I think these …b6 set-ups are more closely related to hedgehogs than to QI, though I don’t know Queen’s Indian well enough. In the QI, I think the white bishop fianchettos most of the time, but not in this line (probably because after the slow Qc2 it would cost too much time)

    Here is a sample game with the b6 line :
    [Event “Bundesliga 2001-2”]
    [Site “Hamburg GER”]
    [Date “2002.??.??”]
    [Round “5”]
    [White “Heller, Arpad”]
    [Black “Chandler, Murray G”]
    [Result “0-1”]
    [BlackElo “2543”]
    [ECO “E39”]
    [WhiteElo “2155”]

    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 c5 5.dxc5 O-O 6.a3 Bxc5 7.Nf3 b6 8.Bg5
    Bb7 9.e4 h6 10.Bh4 Be7 11.e5 Nh5 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.Qd2 Bxf3 14.gxf3 Nc6 15.f4
    Qh4 16.Ne2 Rad8 17.Rg1 f6 18.O-O-O Qxf2 19.f5 Nxe5 20.Rg2 Qxf5 21.Qxh6
    Nd3+ 22.Kd2 Nxb2 23.Rc1 d5 24.Kc3 Qe5+ 25.Kc2 Nxc4 0-1

    But once again, this is a very uncommon, if specific, variation.

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