The Meštrović Variation
of the Nimzovich Defense

by Michael Goeller

The favorite defense of Slovenian IM Zvonimir Meštrović ( b . October 17 , 1944) is 1...Nc6 and 2...d6, practically no matter what his opponent does. I have been meaning to write about his approach to the Nimzovich Defense for some time and will likely return to the topic in the future as an extension to my series on The Panther (which can arise by the move order 1.d4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d6 3.c4 Nf6 4.Nc3 e5). For now, let's take a look at FM Steve Stoyko's recent loss as White to the line against well-known IM Tim Taylor in the recent Las Vegas Masters tournament.

Steve Stoyko (2293) - Timothy Taylor (2330) [B00]

Las Vegas Masters/Las Vegas, NV USA (8) 2006


1. e4 Nc6 2. d4 d6!?

A method of playing the Nimzovich pioneered by Zvonimir Mestrovic.

 

 

3. d5

3. Nf3!? Nf6 4. Nc3 Bg4 5. Be3! e6 6. d5!

 

3... Ne5 4. f4 Ng6!?

The old move, albeit in a position that could arise by transposition via 1.d4 Nc6 2.d5 Ne5 3.f4 Ng6 4.e4 d6!? (instead of the more standard 4...e5 or 4...e6) , so it may be all part of Taylor's preparation.

Mestrovic now prefers 4... Nd7 with the idea of repositioning via Nd7-c5. For example: 5. c4 (5. Nf3 c6 6. c4 Nc5 7. Nc3 Nf6! 8. Qc2 g6 9. Be2 Bg7 10. O-O O-O 11. Kh1 cxd5 12. cxd5 Bd7 13. Be3 Rc8 14. Nd2 b5 15. Bxb5 Bxb5 16. Nxb5 Ncxe4 17. Nc4 Qd7 18. Nxa7 Rc7 19. Nc6 Qf5 20. Nd4 Qh5 21. Rf3 Ng4 22. h3 Qxd5 23. Rc1 Nxe3 24. Rxe3 Bxd4 25. Qxe4 Qxe4 26. Rxe4 Bg7 27. Rd1 f5 28. Red4 e5 0-1 Soln,P-Mestrovic,Z/Bled 1999 (28)) 5... Nc5 6. Nc3 e5 7. dxe6 Bxe6 8. b4 Na6 9. a3 g6 10. Bb2 Bg7 11. Qd2 Nf6 12. O-O-O O-O 13. Nf3 Nb8 14. e5 Nfd7 15. exd6 a5 16. Nb5 Bxb2+ 17. Qxb2 cxd6 18. Nxd6 axb4 19. axb4 Nc6 20. Ne4 Qb6 21. b5 Qe3+ 22. Nfd2 Nd4 23. Qc3 Nf5 24. g3 Rfc8 25. Kb2 Qa7 26. Nb3 Ne3 27. Rxd7 Nxc4+ 28. Kc1 Qa3+ 29. Kb1 Nd2+ 30. Qxd2 Qxb3+ 31. Qb2 Ra1+ 32. Kxa1 Rc1+ 0-1 Palac,M-Mestrovic,Z/Zadar 1998 (32)

 

5. Nf3

Very likely Steve had in mind the following game: 5. c4 Nf6 6. Nc3 c6 7. Nf3 Bg4 8. h3 Bxf3 9. Qxf3 e5 10. f5 Ne7 11. Be2 Nc8 12. g4 Be7 13. g5 Nd7 14. h4 Ncb6 15. Bd2 Rc8 16. b3 a5 17. O-O a4 18. Kh1 Ra8 19. dxc6 bxc6 20. b4 Qc8 21. h5 h6 22. f6 gxf6 23. g6 Rg8 24. Bxh6 fxg6 25. hxg6 Rxg6 26. Qh5 Kf7 27. Rg1 Qg8 28. Bg4 Qh7 29. Be6+ Kxe6 30. Rxg6 Rh8 31. Qg4+ Kf7 32. Rg7+ 1-0 Jelen,I-Mestrovic,Z/Ljubljana 1997 (32)

 

5... e5

5... Nf6 6. Nc3 c6 7. dxc6 bxc6 8. f5 (8. Bc4 e6 9. O-O d5 10. exd5 cxd5 11. Bd3 Bc5+ 0-1 Touzane,O-Mestrovic,Z/Cannes 1995 (68)) 8... Ne5 9. Nxe5 dxe5 10. Qxd8+ Kxd8 11. Bc4 e6 12. fxe6 Bxe6 13. Bxe6 fxe6 14. Bg5 (14. Bd2!) 14... Bb4 15. O-O Bxc3 16. bxc3 Ke7 17. Rab1 Rab8= 18. Kf2 (18. Rb3) 18... h6 19. Bxf6+ gxf6 20. Rb3 Rb6 21. Rfb1 Rhb8 22. Rd1 f5 23. Rd3 Rd8 24. Ra3 Rxd3 25. cxd3 Rb2+ 26. Kf3 Rd2 27. Rxa7+ Kd6 28. exf5 exf5 29. Rh7 Rxd3+ 30. Ke2 Rxc3 31. Rxh6+ Kd5 32. a4 Rc2+ 33. Kf3 Ra2 34. Rf6 Ra3+ 35. Kf2 f4 36. g4 Ke4 37. Rxc6 Ra2+ 38. Kg1 Kf3 39. h3 e4 0-1 Zoister,S-Mestrovic,Z/Werfen 1993 (39)

 

6. f5

6. dxe6 fxe6 7. Bd3! (7. Bc4 Bd7 8. O-O Qe7 9. Nc3 O-O-O 10. Be3 Bc6 11. Ng5 d5 12. Bb5 d4 13. Bxd4 Nxf4 14. Qg4 Nf6 15. Qxf4 Rxd4 16. Bxc6 bxc6 17. Qe5 (17. Qf2!) 17... Rd2 18. Qxe6+ Qxe6 19. Nxe6 Bb4 20. Rae1 Re8 21. Nxg7 Rg8 22. Rxf6 Rxg7 23. g3 Rxc2 24. Rxc6 Rxb2 1/2-1/2 Magnucka,A-Gorczyca,A/Wisla 2000 (24)) 7... Bd7 8. O-O c6 9. f5 Qb6+ 10. Kh1 exf5 11. exf5 N6e7 12. Nbd2 Nf6 13. Nc4 Qc7 14. Bf4 Ned5 15. Re1+ Kd8 16. Bg3 b5 17. Ne3 Nxe3 18. Rxe3 Qb6 19. Re1 h6 20. a4 b4 21. c3 bxc3 22. bxc3 Qc5 23. Qb3 Kc7 24. Rab1 Qb6 25. Qf7 Qc5 26. Nd4 Qa5 27. Ne6+ Kc8 28. Nxf8 Kc7 29. Nxd7 Nxd7 30. Re7 Rad8 31. Qe6 Qc5 1-0 Abdic,A-Zuko,R/Neum BIH 2003 (31)

 

6... N6e7 7. c4?!

This seems too slow and it unecessarily blocks the Bishop's diagonal. Better was

7. Nc3 g6 8. g4 h5 9. fxg6 Nxg6 10. Bb5+ Bd7 11. g5

 

7... g6! 8. g4?!

This appears to be a blunder, perhaps due to a misremembering of the game Jelen-Mestrovic cited above.

a) 8. Bd3!? gxf5 9. exf5 Bxf5 10. Bxf5 Nxf5 11. O-O Qd7 12. Nc3

b) 8. fxg6 hxg6 9. Bd3

 

 

8... Nf6!

I'm sure Steve was thinking, "Fork!"

 

9. Nc3?!

Though it looks bad, White must try 9. Nfd2!? when it is difficult to see how Black gains any advantage.

 

9... Nxg4 10. fxg6

10. h3!?

 

10... hxg6 11. h3 Bg7 12. Bg2 Nf6 13. Be3

13. Bg5 Nh5 14. Ne2 f6

 

13... Nh5 14. c5 Nf4 15. Bxf4 exf4 16. Qd2 dxc5 17. O-O-O a6 18. Kb1 Qd6 19. Ne2 Bd7 20. Nxf4 O-O-O

White may be only down a pawn, but he is positionally lost due to the weakened dark squares and Black's powerful Bishop pair. The remainder is perfectly executed by Taylor.

 

21. Rc1 Bh6 22. e5 Bf5+ 23. Ka1 Qb6 24. Nh4 Be6 25. Qf2 Bxf4 26. Qxf4 Nxd5

 

 

27. Qg3 Nb4 28. a3 Nd3

The only way to meet the twin threats of 29,,,Qxb2# and 29...Qb3 followed by ...Qa2# is by 29. b4 cxb4 30.Rc2 Qd4+ when Black has a crushing attack.

0-1

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