Positional Nimzo-Indian Repertoire - Part 1
GM Mihail Marin needs no introduction – he is one of the most acknowledged theoreticians and authors of our time. In this project, he is launching a very ambitious series of databases devoted to the “queen of openings” - the Nimzo-Indian. Arguably, the Nimzo, alongside with the Ruy Lopez, are the two openings every single top-player and almost every single GM have played at some point of their careers. The Nimzo is so vastly popular due to its versatility and flexibility – you can get literally any type of position, such as IQP, hanging pawns, positions with the bishop pair, pawn chains, lead in development, etc. Both sides have a massive amount of choice almost on every move.
This specific database deals with the two main continuations on move 4, which are 4.e3 and 4.Qc2.
Here is what the author has to say about 4.e3:
"This move introduces the Rubinstein system. I am tempted to name it the classical system, even though this usually refers to 4.Qc2. The reason is that White is developing quietly and smoothly, not trying to refute Black's play, but instead looking to obtain a small edge eventually.
Since White does not put any early pressure on the opponent, Black has an enormously vast range of systems. This does not mean that he can equalise with every possible move. On the contrary, he tends to face micro problems in all of them.
Both sides enjoy a variety of plans, and it is only in the middlegame that it becomes clear whose strategy was more successful."
Mihail suggests the flexible light-squared strategy that starts with 4.e3 b6.
The first chapter is an introduction and a discussion of all the options after 4.e3 b6.
The second chapter is devoted to the line 4.e3 b6 5.Nge2 Ba6 6.Ng3 Bxc3 7.bxc3 d5 8.Qf3.
GM Marin is very sceptical about this move; he doesn't believe that White, who is barely developed, can make it work; nevertheless, it's worth understanding what the exact problems are.
Chapters 3 and 4 discuss the variation 8.Ba3, which is aimed at preventing Black from castling short.
White is willing to sacrifice a pawn to build a powerful centre, it is definitely of paramount importance that we know what we are doing here! As usual, Marin explains all the key ideas and themes in a very understandable and explicit language.
Chapters 5-9 cover another hugely fundamental way White can handle the position, which is 5.Nge2 Ba6 6.a3, trying to get the bishop pair and count on the slight advantage in the middlegame.
Mihail mentions the move 6...Bxc3 and explains why he doesn't like it as much, but his main suggestion is 6...Be7, keeping the bishop. First, he covers such sidelines as 7.Ng3, later moving on to the main moves such as 7.Nf4 , discussing both the positional variation 7...d5 8.cxd5 Bxf1 9.Kxf1 as well as the aggressive piece sacrifice 9.dxe6!? Chapter 9 neutralizes another idea – 7...d5 8.b3!?, trying to keep the position more closed.
As always, the reader can expect to find a plethora of fresh ideas and novelties as well as extensive verbal explanations.
Chapters 10 and 11 see discussion of one of the most dangerous White's plans, namely 5.Bd3!?, not caring enough to play 5.Nge2 and instead of developing the bishop first, intending to go 6.Nge2, or 6.Nf3 and castle (or not!).
Mihail, of course, covers both the sidelines such as 6.f3, 6.Nge2 and whatnot and the very main move 6.Nf3. Now, he suggests a very Nimzowich-like kind of a plan that you, dear reader, must take a look at!
The second part of this database is devoted to another classic continuation on move 4, which is 4.Qc2. This move has been played by the great Alekhine and Capablanca back in the day; now, there is no top Grandmaster who hasn't used this line.
As usual, Mikhail prefers to stick to the positional plans and ideas as opposed to concrete tactical variations. He wants you to win based on your understanding instead of relying on memory and rote learning. So, there is no wonder he suggests you stick to the light-squared strategy initiated by the slightly rare 4...b6!?.
Of course, White now has a plethora of continuations.
Chapter 13 covers the attempt 4.Qc2 b6 5.e4 c5 6.d5, which is aimed at proving the ...b7-b6 move useless.
However, after the well-known 6...Qe7! Mikhail manages to neutralize both 7.Nge2 and 7.Be2 – Black is experiencing no issues whatsoever.
In Chapter 14, the move 6.e5 is tackled. This continuation attempts to grab as much space as possible, however after the cunning 6...cxd4! 7.a3 Bxc3 8.bxc3 Ng8
A very original and fun position arises where White enjoys the extra space, however, we have a very flexible position and a ton of control over the h1-a8 diagonal. As usual, Black is doing great.
Chapter 15 is devoted to the variation 6.a3, which immediately gives the game some Saemisch flavour. White is willingly doubling his pawns, hoping his powerful centre would be worth the weak structure. After 6...Bxc3 7.bxc3 Bb7 8.Bd3 Mikhail suggests a very cool continuation – make sure to take a sneak peek inside the database!
Now that we know 5.e4 is not that dangerous, GM Marin focuses his attention on the principled 5.a3. This is exactly what chapters 16-22 are all about.
Chapter 16, after the moves 5.a3 Bxc3 6.Qc3 Bb7 covers the variation 7.Bg5. The variation 7.f3 is a matter of discussion of chapter 17, while the much more serious 7.Nf3 is dealt with in chapters 18-22.
The critical position arises after 7.Nf3 O-O, now White can choose between 8.e3 and 8.g3. Mihail provides a wealth of amazing, GM-level instruction, explaining what setups we should strive to achieve, what should be avoided and why the move orders can be so important. Interestingly enough, he also mentions the arising positions are very similar to the ones from his earlier database on the Bogo-Indian, so you might want to check those out, too!
At the end of the database, you will find a test section with 15 interactive training positions. These positions are designed to challenge your knowledge and understanding of the theory.