Play the Bogo-Indian Defence - Part 1
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The starting position of the Bogo-Indian Defence arises after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+
The Bogoljubov Defence (or Bogo-Indian) owes its name to the fact that the later world title challenger used it with some frequency in the '20s. In fact, he can be considered almost an innovator, as there are only two earlier recorded games with this opening (the first of them was played in 1883!) In those times, Bogoljubov and his colleagues used the early check to speed up development and then switched to Queen's Gambit and sometimes Queen's Indian schemes. With the passing of decades, Black discovered more ambitious setups. The first database features a repertoire against White's most popular answer - 4.Bd2.
Black can react in several ways of which I have chosen a solid and flexible setup, based on placing the central pawns on the dark squares and aiming for an improved King's Indian type position, without his potentially bad dark-squared bishop. When examining the examples below I will frequently make comparisons between the two openings, in order to explain the essence of the position better and to avoid inopportune automatisms.
The database includes three sections - Pawn Structures, Theory, Test Section.
In this section, you will find 9 extensively annotated games which illustrate all the ideas you should know in the arising pawn structures. Below, I provide one of the games.
The current repertoire is based on 4...Qe7.
This is a flexible move, maintaining the tension for a while, as Bxb4 would lose a pawn to ...Qxb4+. Black's main plan is to stabilize on the dark squares with ...d7-d6 and ...e6-e5, revealing the queen's usefulness on e7. In some lines, Black can use the square d8 to retreat with his c6-knight. Not least, delaying the exchange on d2 is likely to force White to make a small concession.
Chapter 1 - Rare Lines
After 4...Qe7, White has two main responses - 5.a3 and 5.g3. These moves are dealt with in the next chapters of the database.
Chapter 1 is dedicated to White's alternatives on move 5. I mainly focus on the moves 5.e3, 5.Qb3, and 5.Nc3. These lines are not challenging for Black. Our strategy remains unchanged - exchanging the dark-squared bishop followed by ...d7-d6 and ...e6-e5.
Chapters 2-3 - 5.a3
Surprisingly, this is the second most popular move after 5.g3. White forces Black to release the tension at once. In some cases, a2-a3 could be useful, but at this stage, it looks like a small waste of time and a weakening of the light squares. After the obvious 5...Bxd2, White has a choice among 3 moves - 6.Nfxd2, 6.Qxd2, and 6.Nbxd2.
The moves 6.Nfxd2 and 6.Qxd2 are dealt with in Chapter 1. In both cases, Black follows his usual strategy based on ...d7-d6 followed by ...e6-e5. The main position of the chapter arises after 6.Qxd2 d6 7.Nc3 0-0 8.e4 e5
It turns out that due to the vulnerable e4-pawn, White cannot keep the tension in the centre. He should either close the centre with d4-d5 or opt for a symmetrical structure by means of dxe5. In both cases, Black is doing very well.
Chapter 3 features 6.Nbxd2.
White wants to speed up his development and the occupation of the centre with e2-e4. Black's reaction is similar. After 6...d6 7.e4 e5, we reach a type of position which is similar to Chapter 2.
Chapters 4-5 - 5.g3 Nc6 6.a3
The idea behind this move is familiar to us already. White simply intends to reach the optimal development with the knight on c3. But as usual, Black can make use of the extra tempo and sometimes of the weakness on b3.
The critical position of the variation is being reached after 6...Bxd2 7.Qxd2 d6 8.Bg2 e5
It is important to mention that I also cover 8.Nc3 which is an important alternative to 8.Bg2.
Let's get back to the position on the diagram. In Chapter 4, I analyze 9.Nc3. The idea of this move is to keep the tension in the centre. Black, however, can force White to clarify the pawn structure by means of 9...Bg4. Now, White should either play 10.dxe5 or close the centre with 10.d5. From a theoretical point of view, Black does not face any problems.
Chapter 5 deals with the immediate 9.d5.
With his last move, White decides to close the centre without allowing ...Nd4 which is possible in the lines with ...Bg4. Black should play 9...Nb8. Later on, we shall opt for ...a7-a5 followed by Na6-c5. In my opinion, since the dark-squared bishops had been exchanged, Black enjoys a favourable King's Indian type of position.
Chapter 6 - 5.g3 Nc6 6.e3
A solid move, defending the d4 and c4 pawns in anticipation of ...Bxd2+, ...Qxd2 and ...Ne4. But at the same time, White weakens his light squares and wastes a developing tempo.
The main line goes 6...0-0 7.Bg2 Bxd2 8.Qxd2 d6 9.Nc3 e5
Once again, Black managed to achieve his typical setup. He is now ready to answer 10.0-0 with 10...Bg4. White's most challenging try seems to be 10.Nd5. Even in this case, however, after 10...Qd8, Black gradually neutralizes White's temporary initiative.
Chapters 7 - 12 - 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2
In my opinion, this is not the most precise move order. Actually, Black's 5...Nc6 is considered to be a very good antidote to this particular move order. The main line goes 6...Bxd2 7.Qxd2 Ne4 8.Qc2 Qb4+
White faces a difficult choice in this position. The continuation 9.Kf1 is spoiling the coordination in White's camp. On the other hand, 9.Nc3 Nxc3 10.Qxc3 Qxc3 11.bxc3 Na5 leads to a position in which Black enjoys a positional edge due to his better pawn structure.
The most popular continuation 9.Nbd2 is basically a pawn sacrifice after 9...Nxd2 10.Qxd2 Qxc4
There have been many tries to prove compensation for White based on his advance in development. But since Black does not have weaknesses, he can count on retaining his extra pawn.
Chapters 8, 9, and 10 feature 7.Nbxd2.
Having a knight on d2, White can quickly execute the advance e2-e4. On the other hand, the perfect spot for the knight would be the c3-square. With a knight on c3, White would not only support e2-e4 but also control the d5-square. The control of e5 is particularly important when Black goes for ...d7-d6 followed ...e6-e5.
In Chapter 8, I analyze an attempt to play without e2-e4 - 7...d6 8.Nf1!?
An interesting way of activating the knight at an early stage. On e3 it will control several important squares, but it will also block the e-pawn.
The main line goes 8...0-0 9.Ne3 e5 10.0-0 Re8
At this height, both sides play a half-waiting game. The last move makes the threat ... e5-e4 real. In my analysis, I prove that Black has a decent play in the arising complex middlegame.
The basic position of the next four chapters arises after 7...d6 8.0-0 0-0 9.e4 e5 10.d5 Nb8
We have reached a very important pawn structure which is extensively explained in the section "Pawn Structures". White can consider playing on both wings. Depending on his intentions, he could play either b2-b4 or Ne1-d3 followed by f2-f4. At the same time, Black is usually trying to open the position on the queenside. In the next moves, he will follow with ...a7-a5, Nb8-a6-c5, and ...Bd7. Later on, he usually goes for ...c7-c6. In some cases, however, it is possible to consider playing ...b7-b5 at once.
Chapter 9 is dedicated to the move 11.b4. In this case, Black should react with 11...a5 12.a3 Na6
Black has stopped the first wave of attack, and with the White knight far from d3, he will soon have chances to block the queenside on the dark squares.
In the next three chapters, I discuss the most critical 11.Ne1 a5 12.Nd3 Na6
The white knights' display looks aesthetically pleasing. They can sustain an attack on either wing. In the meantime, Black sticks to his general plan.
At this point, White faces a wide choice of options. In Chapter 10 I examine 13.b3, 13.Qe2, and 13.Qc2.
It is important to point out that in such unforced positions, the exact moves are not that important. One should rather focus on the typical positional ideas and recurring motifs which were explained in the section "Pawn Structures".
Chapter 11 deals with the straightforward 13.f4
The kingside attack leads to double-edged play after Black's principled answer 13.exf4 14.gxf4 Bg4
Black managed to complete the development. Depending on the White's reaction, he has 2 ways of fighting for the e5-square - ...Nb4 or ...Nd7. I examine 15.Bf3 and 15.Qe1. My analysis shows that Black holds his own in both cases. Very often, White's positions tends to be overextended. Therefore, Black can even overtake the initiative.
The more positional approach 13.a3 is dealt with in Chapter 12.
The queenside plan is more solid, but it offers Black the possibility of organizing his counterplay on the same side. In this position, I suggest 13...Bg4! which is an important intermediate move, inducing the weakening of the g1-a7 diagonal. The play usually follows with 14.f3 Bd7 15.b4 c6!
This typical move, preparing to open the queenside and clearing the a5-d8 diagonal for the queen, is best played without the exchange on b4.
White has 3 options in this position - 16.bxa5, 16.Qb3, and 16.dxc6. In this chapter, I show how Black is supposed to handle the different modifications of the queenside structure.
Chapters 13 - 18 - 6.Nc3
White anticipates the threat ...Bxd2+ with a natural developing move. True, this exposes the knight to a Nimzo-Indian scenario (...Bxc3), but only after Black has made a few commitments (...Qe7, ...Nc6).
The first important crossroads arises after 6...Bxc3 7.Bxc3 Ne4
Now, White has two ways of supporting the bishop - 8.Qc2 and 8.Rc1.
Chapters 13 and 14 are dedicated to the position arising after 8.Qc2 Nxc3 9.Qxc3 0-0 10.Bg2 d6
Black is ready to follow with the thematic ...e6-e5. White can either allow this advance by playing 11.0-0 or 11.b4 (both dealt with in Chapter 13) or transform the pawn structure by playing 11.d5 (Chapter 14). Each one of these approaches has advantages and drawbacks. Theoretically speaking, however, Black is doing fine in both cases.
The last 4 chapters feature White's most popular move - 8.Rc1.
This is the absolute main line of this system. In case of exchange on c3, White would be better prepared for the intrusion along the c-file (prepared with Qc2 and Rc1), while the rook could display a certain activity along the third rank. But unlike 8.Qc2, the last move does not attack the knight, allowing Black to delay the exchange until he considers it convenient.
At this point, it is important to start with 8...0-0. The alternative 8...d6 is well met by 9.d5 when Black should immediately take on c3 since the g7-pawn is hanging.
After 9.Bg2 d6, White has a choice.
Chapters 15 and 16 examine the position arising after 10.0-0 Nxc3 11.Rxc3 e5 12.d5 Nb8
Once again, Black is ready to opt for his typical setup based on ...a7-a5 followed by ...Na6. White has a wide choice at his disposal. Chapter 15 is dedicated to the moves 13.c5, 13.Qc2 and 13.b4 while 13.Nd2 is covered in Chapter 16. In my analysis, I demonstrate that Black has enough resources to neutralize White's activity on the queenside.
The last two chapters are dedicated to 10.d5 Nd8
This is a moment when the decision regarding the exchange on c3 may make a difference. The alternative 10...Nxc3 11.Rxc3 seems to be less appealing to me since White can grab additional space in the centre by means of e2-e4. Also, the rook is more active on c3 than on c1.
Let's get back to the diagram position. White should decide whether to prevent ...e6-e5 with 11.dxe6 or prevent it by means of 11.0-0.
The first approach is covered in Chapter 17, while the second one is dealt with in Chapter 18. If Black knows what he is doing, he has decent chances in both cases.
At the end of the database, you will find 18 interactive test positions which challenge your understanding of the theory.