Positional Nimzo-Indian Repertoire - Part 2
In his second database, GM Mihail Marin completes the examination of Nimzo-Indian Defense. After dealing with the two main moves (4.Qc2 and 4.e3) in Part 1, he now analyzes all other possibilities for White. The Romanian grandmaster stays loyal to his style and suggests some less explored systems based on solid positional grounds. Following his repertoire, you shouldn't memorize long and forced lines but build a fundamental understanding of the arising positions and structures. The database contains 20 theoretical chapters and 15 test positions!
In Chapters 1 to 9, GM Mihail Marin is analyzing the move 4.Nf3
The third most common move for White and it is not without venom.
The author stays loyal to his concept and suggests 4…b6
In this position, White has a wide choice between several development schemes.
In Chapter 1, the author analyzes the modest-looking move – 5.Bd2 followed by g2-g3 and Bg2.
Marin suggests continuing with the well-known scheme – "Bb7, d7-d6, Nbd7, 0-0, followed by an exchange of the dark-squared bishop on c3. According to the analysis, Black is not experiencing any problems in this line.
Chapter 2 is dealing with the systems after 5.Bd2 Bb7 6.e3.
The author suggests the immediate 6…Bxc3! following by 7…Ne4 with a good play for Black.
Chapter 3 is devoted to 5.Qb3 c5! 6.dxc5 and other sidelines.
With the move 5.Qb3, White intends to play an improved version of the Qc2 system. Before forcing the exchange on c3, he hopes to induce a small commitment, such as 5...a5 or 5...Qe7. Black defends the bishop, ensures a safe retreat to a5 if needed, and puts pressure on d4. Soon he will exploit the queen's position with ...Nc6 and possibly ... Na5. The move 6.dxc5, this simplistic continuation requires a certain accuracy from Black. The author proves that with an accurate play, Black can maintain the balance.
In Chapters 4 to 6, the reader will find the position after 6.Bg5 Bb7
It is important to delay h7-h6 to keep the g5-bishop vulnerable to ...Bxc3+, and if Qxc3 then ...Ne4. This works only if White has the rook on d1 or the other bishop on e2, in the knight's path.
GM Marin analyzes the immediate 7.a3 in Chapter 5 and the most natural 7.e3 in Chapter 6
These structures are quite complicated, but the author finds some new ideas and concepts which lead to double-edged positions with equal chances.
Chapter 7 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 b6 5.Bg5 Bb7 6.Nd2
The author analyzes the most popular and straightforward variation 5.Bg5
This was also Kasparov's choice in his encounters with Karpov.
This chapter is devoted to the positions after 5…b6 6.Nd2!?
This used to be fashionable at some point. White intends to occupy the centre with pawns without losing time with e2-e3 (f2-f3 and e2-e4). However, the last move looks a bit weird from a developing point of view. Marin finds an extremely rare but strong continuation for Black and provides us with his original analysis. The arising positions are fresh, unexplored, and quite good for Black.
Chapter 8 - 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 b6 5.Bg5 Bb7 6.e3
This and the next chapters are devoted to the main continuation 6.e3.
The main line continues 6…h6 7.Bh4 g5 8.Bg3 Ne4 9.Qc2 Bxc3 10.bxc3 Nxg3!?
The Romanian grandmaster chooses this move instead of the most popular 10…d6.
First, he analyzes the classical approach 11.hxg3.
Here Black has the simple plan: …Nc6 followed by Qe7 and 0-0-0 with a good play.
Chapter 9 - 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 b6 5.Bg5 Bb7 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 g5 8.Bg3 Ne4 9.Qc2 Bxc3 10.bxc3 Nxg3 11.fxg3
It is an interesting attempt to deprive Black of his attack based on advancing the h-pawn and clearing the f-file for White's major pieces.
White is trying to compensate his worse pawn structure with an active play on the open file.
Marin shows that Black can neutralize White's initiative with an accurate play and then try to take advantage of the opponent's multiple weaknesses.
Chapter 10 – 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qb3
Since Black has not made any queenside commitment yet, this is less consistent than 4.Nf3 b6 5.Qb3.
Black equalizes comfortably after 4…c5 5.dxc5 Nc6.
In this position, White has three main options: 6.Bg5, 6.a3 and 6.Nf3, but neither of them give advantage for White
Chapter 11 – 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.g3 – Romanishin System
Marin suggests the non-trivial 4...0-0 5.0-0 Bxc3 following with the typical plan: d6, Nc6, 0-0, e6-e5, etc..
In this chapter, the author analyzes some rare setups for White as 6.bxc3 d6 7.e4 e5 8.Ne2 where Black is doing fine
Chapter 12 - 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.g3 0-0 5.0-0 Bxc3 6.bxc3 d6 7.Nf3 Nc6 8.0-0 e5
Creating the potential threat of ... e5-e4, which would reduce the g2-bishop's activity.
Chapter 13 – 16 – 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3
This ambitious system was famously used by the Romanian grandmaster Florin Gheorghiu to beat Robert Fischer. I have been seduced by it in the early '90s and obtained a series of beautiful wins with it. However, the system is a bit too provocative, as it delays White's piece development. Nevertheless, this is a trendy line nowadays thanks to some great wins of Caruana, Nepo, and other top GM's.
Marin suggests 4…c5 5.d5 b5 6.e4 d6
In Chapter 13, he analyzes all sidelines for White on the move seven and shows that Black has nothing to worry about.
Chapter 14 - 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 c5 5.d5 b5 6.e4 d6 7.Nge2
White intends to continue with Ng3, avoiding wasting a tempo with the bishop on its way to c4 and hoping that Black will soon finish his neutral, half-waiting moves. However, there is a simple answer, and Black can equalize after 7…dxc4 8.Nf4 e5. It is not so easy for White to return the pawn.
Chapter 15 - 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 c5 5.d5 b5 6.e4 d6 7.Bd2
A solid move, indirectly reducing Black's pressure in the centre.
It is the choice of Caruana, Aronian, and other top players.
The author suggests the modest 7…a6 and proves that Black can maintain the balance in this double-edged position.
Chapter 16 - 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 c5 5.a3
This is a strange move to reach the Saemisch Attack.
According to Marin, this is not the optimal move order for White and Black has a good play after the natural 5…Bxc3 6.bxc3 d6 followed by the typical idea: Nc6, b6, Na5, Ba6, Qd7 with the attack of the "c4" pawn.
Chapter 17 – 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 Bxc3 – The Saemisch Attack
The Saemisch Attack is the most straightforward attempt to question the viability of Black's opening. White builds a massive pawn center, intending to launch a kingside attack. The practice has shown that the weakness on c4 and the tempo wasted on the last move offer Black an excellent counterplay.
The mainline continues with 5.bxc3 6.e3 b6 7.Bd3
In this position, the author suggests 7…Bb7 and gives the following explanation: "Black has two different move-orders at his disposal (7…Bb7 and 7…Nc6). At first sight, it might seem that the last move implies the loss of a tempo, as the bishop belongs to a6. However, this is not true if we consider that White's main plan is to place his pawns on e4 and f4. With our main move order, he will also have to waste a tempo on f3-f4."
Chapters 18-20 – 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bg5 – The Leningrad System
Once a Spassky favorite, the idea of this move is similar to 4.Nf3 b6 5.Bg5. White intends to use the bishop's absence from e7 to provoke the kingside weakening with ... h7-h6 and ...g7-g5. By developing the king's knight's development, he does not concede the e4-square, but since Black has not played ...b7-b6 yet, he can switch to a different plan. The mainline continues: 4…h6 5.Bh4 c5 6.d5 Bxc3 7.bxc3 d6 8.e3 e5
This is an important tabiya of the Leningrad system. White intends to combine the light static queenside pressure (a2-a4-a5, Rb1) with dynamic kingside ideas (f2-f4, or after ...g7-g5, h2-h4, the pressure along the b1-h7 diagonal). However, the practice has shown that Black can regroup at leisure.
Chapter 17 is devoted to the rare moves 9.Nf3 and 9.f3, which do not pose Black any serious problems.
The other main continuations the reader will find in the next two chapters.
Chapter 18 – 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bg5 h6 5.Bh4 c5 6.d5 Bxc3 7.bxc3 d6 8.e3 e5 9.Bd3
White takes the b1-h7 diagonal under control, anticipating Black's ...g7-g5. The mainline continues 9...e4
This is far away from one-sided, as it offers more space to the other bishop. However, the main issue is that the light-squared bishop and the knight will be strongly restricted. Besides, Black can transfer his queen's knight to e5 to neutralize the pressure along the h2-b8 diagonal. The only real danger is connected with the possible positional sacrifice Ne2-d4, and if. .. cxd4 then cxd4. However, this works only under certain circumstances, usually if the black king is unsafe.
Chapter 19 – 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bg5 h6 5.Bh4 c5 6.d5 Bxc3 7.bxc3 d6 8.e3 e5 9.Qc2
White prepares to play Nf3-d2 without allowing ...Bf5. GM Marin proves that Black's position is very solid and White's activity and bishop pair are enough only to compensate the ruined structure, but not to fight for an advantage.
The database ends with fifteen test positions which you can try to solve when you carefully study the database