Kasimzhanov: Meet the Nimzo-Indian with 4.Qc2

2/18/2013 – Today’s review is about GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov’s DVD on the Nimzo Indian. In it he offers a repertoire choice for White against the all-famous Nimzo-Indian Defense (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6). The former FIDE World Champion of 2004 shares his knowledge on the classical approach against the Nimzo-Indian by playing 4.Qc2. Link Text

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Meet the Nimzo-Indian

Review by Lukas Wedrychowski

Mr. Kasimdzhanov became a common name in the world of chess, after emerging as the FIDE Champion in 2004. Since then he’s been playing successfully in many different tournaments all around the world and even worked as a second for current reigning world chess champion Viswanathan Anand! Their collaboration earned “Vishy” the Crown in 2008 after beating Kramnik in Bonn and was certainly the reason why Anand was able to compete with such heavy-weight theoretical contender such as V. Topalov and B. Gelfand!

In this DVD he shares his knowledge on the Classical approach against the Nimzo-Indian by playing 4.Qc2. The move 4.Qc2 avoids the potential damage Black might inflict to White’s pawn structure as is the case in the “Sämisch Variation” (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3) and use this as a base for further actions.

The Classical Variation has been part of his own repertoire for a very long time and his knowledge in that particular variation is incredibly high! As I mentioned he’s a second for the world chess champion and thus guarantees to be an expert on openings. He’s a common guest at the ChessBase studio where he recorded countless DVDs over the last couple of years including works on the famous Semi-Slav and Classical variation against the Slav (both lines the world champion used a lot and which became his trademark).

For a white player playing 1.d4 it’s one of the most frequently faced problems what to do after Nf6-e6. Nf3 allows way too many openings like the Queen’s Indian, the Queen’s Gambit Declined with tons of different openings. After this Nc3 would be the most natural continuation. In a practical play it’s always nice to reduce the opponent’s possibilities and thus his recommendation goes with Nc3.

After the initial moves (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2) Black has a lot possibilities to continue. In general it can be separated into the following systems

A) 4…c5
B) 4…d5
C) 4…0-0

These are the most common answers against the Classical Variation. There is also the so-called “Zürich Variation” with Nc6, but Rustam does not rate that line very high as it’s only covered briefly under “Minor lines theory”. There he states that this line is currently in danger and thus rarely seen in Top-Grandmasters’ practice! But back to our main moves….

A) 4…c5
This move is popular among club player and experts alike! It offers many possibilities to unbalance the game and partly lead to “hedgehog-type of positions” where both players have their chances. But even here the former world champion has a well thought recipe for the audience and shows ways to tackle this ambitious move early on!

B) 4…d5
In a way one could say that the Queen on c2 will go to c3 in future to avoid white’s pawn structure to be ruined and thus loses time! The Queen on c3 will then be a nice target for Black’s knight which might jump to either e4 or d5, improving its activity and gaining precious time! If we look at the position after d5 we can see that black got a lead in development, as he has two pieces developed, whereas White objectively only has one, because the queen wants to move again to avoid structural damage and will become a punching ball for black’s minor piece(s). Thus Black’s trying to use his better developed forces to create something concrete by opening up lines and eventually increase his lead in development! The positions here can become very dangerous and sharp and one should let himself be led by a top grandmaster in order to avoid all the pitfalls and see the tight-rope path which leads to success!

C) 4…0-0
This is certainly the biggest part of the Nimzo. After the Classical 4…0-0 black has tons of options how to play. Kasimdzhanov recommends the very main line with 5.a3 to gain the bishop pair, which will be White’s main trump in the middle and partly even endgame! After White gained the bishop pair Black has to make a choice of how to continue…. He has the possibilities to sacrifice a pawn, to sharpen the game with …d5 as favored by Kramnik, Carlsen, Ivanchuk or to play in a more solid style with …b6. All those lines are covered and the suggestions given are vital in order to survive this massive battle!

The games included are mainly from recent years. Especially those used for the main lines were played in 2011 (for example: Ivanchuk-Morozevitch, Regio Emilia 2011) but there are also some ‘older’ games played in 2003 and 2006 all by very strong grandmasters and experts in that opening. This shows that the current theory is developing on a daily basis and that it’s not reliable to use games played in the past to stay up-to-date with modern theory. It’s essential to check the database and to review games played every week and to check whether new discoveries were made and the evaluation might have changed!

The content is divided as I described above, but here’s an excerpt so you can check it yourself


Meet the Nimzo-Indian with 4.Qc2: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2

01: Theory Introduction
02: Minor Lines Theory


03: Kasparov, G – Chuchelov, V
04: Morozevich, A – Vitiugov, N


05: 4…d5 Theory
06: Anand, V – Kramnik, V
07: Kasimdzhanov, R. – Karpov, A


08: 4…0-0 Theory
09: Kasimdzhanov, R – Naiditsch, A
10: Kasparov, G – Grischuk, A
11: Kramnik, V – Tiviakov, S
12: Kramnik, V – Leko, P
13: Kasimdzhanov, R – Ghaem Maghami, E
14: Dreev, A – Movesian, S
15: Shomoev, A – Andreikin, D
16: Ivanchuk, V – Morozevich, A

17: Wrap-up

I liked his presentation very much. Despite countless “ehm” during his presentation, which could be seen as his trademark, one can clearly see his wide knowledge in that area and the material presented makes sure to last for several years to come! He has a good eye contact so the audience gets the feeling he has a private-lesson with a world champion’s second. He does not only rely on pure variations but gives highly valuable verbal commentary on how to play the positions, what the most important themes and ideas are and where white’s hidden resources are!


A good piece of work! He fulfilled his aim to provide a complete repertoire for white against the famous ‘Nimzo’. Playing the Classical way will ensure that you play in the footsteps of the very best, are able to follow the current development and maybe even to make your own contribution to the theory of this modern opening! I would recommend this DVD to players ranged between 1500 and 2200 ELO as it can be used both, as an introduction to a fascinating opening variation as well as an update for the current state of the Classical 4.Qc2-line.

Rating: **** (4/5) Recommended

Video Sampler: Rustam Kasimdzhanov - Meet the Nimzoindian with 4.Qc2

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