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
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.
Black should probably react more aggressively to seize the chance for quick equality. Three equalizing lines are:
b) 4... c5 5. a3 (5. d5
O-O6. 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-O10. Rd1! Nc6 11. Qd6 Qa5+ 12. Rd2 is balanced.
The great artist and master chessplayer Marcel
Duchamp once played instead 5. f3!? Nc6 (5... Nh5!? 6. g3
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)
This is White's concept. But it merely restores material equality and does not offer good long term chances.
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.
Black seems too focused on restoring material equality. More important is completing his development and going after White's King in the center!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Active play above all is the key. First man to queen wins!
A very nicely conducted ending by White. But that hardly vindicates his choice of opening!
Game in PGN
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