The Master of the Nimzo-Indian

by ChessBase
3/12/2008 – One of the most important openings in all of chess is the Nimzo-Indian Defense, and within it one of the most important approaches for White starts with 4.Qc2. But is there a downside to this opening? Our lecturer Dennis Monokroussos uses a game by an artist of the white side of the NI Defense, GM Mihail Gurevich, to explain the principles. Tune in and learn.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

One of the most important openings in all of chess is the Nimzo-Indian Defense, and within this opening one of the most important approaches for White starts with 4.Qc2. Its fundamental idea is to grab the bishop pair with a quick a3, and to do so without incurring the doubled pawns that result from an immediate 4.a3 Bxc3+ 5.bxc3.

Sounds good, you say, but what's the downside? The answer is as simple as the advice we all received as beginners: one should develop as quickly as possible, though generally not the queen. The 4.Qc2 Nimzo violates both halves of that precept, and therein we find Black's compensation. If he can use his speedier development to gain and maintain activity, he'll be fine; if not, White's bishop pair will gradually make its presence felt.

Master of the Nimzo-Indian: GM Mihail Gurevich

In this week's show (tonight from 9-10 p.m. ET), we'll see the triumph of the bishop pair. The artist handling the White pieces is Mikhail Gurevich, one of those great players long on the cusp of the world's super-elite, nearly making the Candidates in 1991 and succeeding in 2007. Gurevich is a great expert on the 4.Qc2 Nimzo-Indian, and this 2004 game with Croatian GM Robert Zelcic, we see the two bishops recipe carried out almost to perfection. First, White finishes his development while staying out of trouble. Second, he gradually reduces Black's activity, turning things so that the only key difference is the imbalance of minor pieces. Once that occurs, the long-range bishops come into their own, and Black's position becomes increasingly passive. Finally, it's time to win the game, and with a minor hiccup or two along the way, that's just what happens.

The foregoing narrative oversimplifies matters, of course. Zelcic had his chances, off and on, until quite near the end of the game. And it would be an error to think that gaining the bishop pair served as a sort of magic wand enabling its possessor to achieve his every whim on the chessboard. All the same, many games have been won by the skillful use of the bishop pair, that skillful use does often follow the broad pattern limned above, and this pattern is often seen in the 4.Qc2 Nimzo-Indian. So I think and hope many of you will not only find this game entertaining but instructive as well, something you can use in your own play. Tune in and see for yourself!

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Thursday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).

Monokroussos in Mexico: World Championship 2007

Dennis Monokroussos is 41, lives in South Bend, IN, where he teaches chess and occasionally works as an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University-South Bend.

At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S. and has reached a peak rating of 2434 USCF, but several long breaks from tournament play have made him rusty. He is now resuming tournament chess in earnest, hoping to reach new heights.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for ten years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.

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