A Rare Line in the Nimzo-Indian

Club players of the Nimzo-Indian are bound to see 1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Bd2?! from time to time, but it is surprising to see a master play the move. Back when, of course, endgame geniuses such as Rubinstein did not hesitate to play such a passive line in the Nimzo-Indian, knowing full well that they could out-technique their opponents. These days, though, White has to try for more from the outset or risk getting in trouble. That may explain why NM Mark Kernighan tried the temporary pawn sac 4...b6 5.e4!? Bxc3 6.Bxc3 Nxe4 7.Qg4 to mix things up. In the end, though, Black should have gotten the best of it, but (like Rubinstein of old) our NM Kernighan was able to extract a win through careful technique. I assume the opening, however, was an experiment he will not soon repeat.

Mark Kernighan (2212) - Vincent Klemm (2128) [E46]

Viking Quads /Mount Arlington, NJ USA 2005


1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Bd2?!

A very rare move these days. Long ago it was used by those seeking to avoid sharp play, and White typically follows a rather passive course involving Pe3, Bd3, Nf3 or Nge2, and O-O. Mark has other ideas.

 

4... b6!?

Black should probably react more aggressively to seize the chance for quick equality. Three equalizing lines are:

a) 4... d5 5. Nf3 O-O 6. e3 c5 is balanced.

b) 4... c5 5. a3 (5. d5 O-O 6. f3 d6 7. e4 Nbd7<=>) (5. Nb5?! d5 6. Bxb4 (6. cxd5 a6) 6... cxb4 7. c5 Ne4! ) 5... Bxc3 6. Bxc3 Ne4 7. Qc2 Nxc3 8. Qxc3 cxd4 9. Qxd4 O-O 10. Rd1! Nc6 11. Qd6 Qa5+ 12. Rd2 is balanced.

c) 4... O-O! 5. Nf3 (5. Qc2 d5) (5. f3?! d5) 5... d6! (5... d5 6. Qb3 = ) 6. e3 Nbd7 7. Bd3 e5=

5. e4

 










Position after 5.e4!?

The great artist and master chessplayer Marcel Duchamp once played instead 5. f3!? Nc6 (5... Nh5!? 6. g3 O-O 7. e4 f5 is unclear ) 6. a3 Be7 7. d5 Nb8 (7... Ne5 8. e4 Bc5 unclear ) 8. e4 e5 9. Bd3 d6 10. Nge2 Nbd7 11. O-O Nh5 12. f4?! (perhaps 12. b4 Bg5) (or 12. Qc1 h6 13. b4 Bg5) 12... Nxf4 13. Nxf4 exf4 14. Bxf4 Bf6 15. Qh5 Qe7 16. Rae1 Ne5 0-1 Duchamp,M-Baratz,A/Nice 1931 (53)

 

5... Bxc3

Also playable is 5... Bb7!? 6. f3

(6. e5 Bxc3 7. bxc3!? Ne4 8. Qg4 Nxd2!? 9. Qxg7 Rf8 10. Kxd2 d6 )

 

6... Nh5! 7. Nh3

(7. Be3!?)

 

7... f5! 8. a3

(8. Bd3 Nc6 9. a3 Be7 10. Be3 f4 11. Bf2 (11. Nxf4 Nxf4 12. Bxf4 Nxd4=) 11... Bh4 unclear )

 

8... Bxc3 9. Bxc3 fxe4 10. fxe4 Qh4+ 11. Nf2 O-O 12. g3 Qf6 13. Qe2 Nc6 14. O-O-O?

(White might have a slight edge after 14. Rd1! Rae8 15. Bg2 e5 16. dxe5 Nxe5 17. O-O )

 

14... Qxf2 15. Qxh5 Qe3+ 16. Kb1 (see diagram)










Black to play after 16.Kb1

16... Nb4!! 17. d5?

(17. Bxb4 Bxe4+ 18. Ka2 Bf3 )

 

17... Qxe4+! 18. Ka1 Rf5! 19. Qe2 Nc2+ 20. Ka2 Qxe2 21. Bxe2 Ne3 22. Rd2 exd5 23. Re1 Rf2 24. Bd3 Rxd2 25. Bxd2 d4 (25... dxc4!?) 26. Bxe3 dxe3 27. Rxe3 Kf7 28. h4 g6 29. Be4 Bxe4 30. Rxe4 Re8 and Black went on to win... 0-1 Gulko,B-Zvjaginsev,V/New York 1997 (51)

 

6. Bxc3 Nxe4 7. Qg4

This is White's concept. But it merely restores material equality and does not offer good long term chances.

 

7... Nxc3

7... Nf6!? 8. Qxg7 Rg8 9. Qh6 d5=

 

8. Qxg7 Rf8

8... Ke7!? 9. bxc3 Qg8 10. Qh6 (10. Qe5!?) 10... Bb7 11. f3 (11. Ne2) 11... Qg6 12. Qe3 Nc6 13. Nh3 h5 14. Nf4 Qh6 15. d5 Na5 16. c5 Rae8 17. dxe6 fxe6 18. O-O-O Kd8 19. cxb6 axb6 20. Bb5 Rh7 21. Rhe1 e5 22. Nd3 Qxe3+= 1/2-1/2 Jakobsen,O-Hansen,C/Vejle 1982 (22)

 

9. bxc3 Qh4

Black has a lot of activity and should strive to develop quickly by ...Bb7, ...Nc6, and ...O-O-O with strong counterplay. For example: 9... Bb7 10. Qxh7 Qf6

 

10. Bd3 Bb7 11. Bxh7 Be4!?

This seems slow. Better may be either 11... d6 or 11... Na6!? 12. Nf3 Bxf3 13. gxf3 O-O-O

 

12. Bxe4 Qxe4+ 13. Ne2 Qd3!?

Black seems too focused on restoring material equality. More important is completing his development and going after White's King in the center!

 

14. h4

White's trump is the passed pawn. And passed pawns must be pushed. But ultimately he is going to have lots of trouble with his King in the center of the board and his weak pawns.

 

14... Qxc4 15. h5 Nc6 16. h6 O-O-O 17. h7 Rh8 18. Qxf7 Rdf8 19. Qg7 e5! 20. dxe5 Nxe5 21. O-O!

A rather desperate measure, but probably his best chance at this point. How else can he secure his King? 21. Qxf8+!? Rxf8 22. h8=Q Nd3+ 23. Kf1 Rxh8 24. Rxh8+ Kb7 and White's King is still going to have trouble, though the connected passed pawns give him chances in a wild ending.

 

21... Qxe2 22. Rae1 Qg4

Better may have been 22... Nf3+! 23. gxf3 Qxf3 24. Re7 Qf5 25. f4! with an absolutely insane position for both sides! White's more exposed King should favor Black, but you can see why he might have preferred a simpler path.

 

23. Qxe5 Rxh7 24. Qe4 Qxe4 25. Rxe4

White finally can breathe easy! The ending should favor him due to the connected passed pawns, but it is very difficult with two Rooks per side.

 

25... Rfh8?! 26. f3 Rh1+ 27. Kf2 Rxf1+?

This seems to be the last thing that Black should want to do! Keeping all the Rooks on makes White's task much more difficult.

 

28. Kxf1 Rh1+ 29. Kf2 Rc1 30. Re8+! Kb7 31. g4!

Active play above all is the key. First man to queen wins!

 

31... Rxc3 32. g5 Rc2+ 33. Kg3 Rc1 34. f4 Rg1+ 35. Kh4! c5 36. f5 c4 37. f6 c3

37... Rf1 38. g6 Rxf6 39. g7 Rg6 40. g8=Q Rxg8 41. Rxg8 d5 42. Kg3+-

 

38. Re2!

The safest course, especially in time pressure. 38. f7 Rf1 39. f8=Q Rxf8 40. Rxf8 c2 41. Rf1+-

 

38... Rf1 39. Rc2! Rf3 40. Kg4 Rf1 41. Rxc3 d5 42. Rf3

A very nicely conducted ending by White. But that hardly vindicates his choice of opening!

1-0

[Michael Goeller]

Game in PGN

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