By Bruce Pandolfini
Beware the jury of the two white bishops should Black allow the center to open in a Nimzo-Indian Defense.
In the Nimzo-Indian Defense (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4) Black relies on quick kingside development, and a bishop pin on the c3-knight, to fight for control of e4. This often necessitates exchanging the bishop for the knight, inflicting White with doubled c-pawns, but at the same time arming White with two bishops. Such bishops may be ineffective as long as the center remains closed. But if it ever opens, the forces unleashed might prove unstoppable. That's more or less the story this month—you be the judge, after the opening moves:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Rubinstein Variation (E47)
Svetozar Gligoric Braslav Rabar Zagreb, 1939
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 0-0 5. Bd3 d6 6. Ne2 e5 7. 0-0 Qe7 8. Ng3 Bxc3
Now make sure you have the above position set up on your chessboard. As you play through the remaining moves in this game, use a piece of paper to cover the article, exposing White's next move only after trying to guess it. If you guess correctly, give yourself the par score.
Sometimes points are also rewarded for second-best moves, and there may be bonus points—or deductions—for other moves and variations. Note that ** means that the note to Black's move is over and White's move is on the next line.**
9. bxc3 Par Score: 4
Deduct 3 points for any other move (9. dxe5? Bxe5).
This preemptive advance (before White himself plays e3-e4) is more or less the point of Black's setup. But since the e4-pawn can soon be traded off, other moves are worth considering, such as 9. ... c5 or
10. Be2 Par Score: 5
The alternative retreat was 10. Bc2 (full credit), but it seems that Gligoric did not want to allow 10. ... Bg4 11. f3 exf3 12. gxf3 Bh3, when his castled position has been weakened.
The text takes control of the squares g4 and h5 but at the same time relaxes the pressure on e4.
Rabar's idea is to push back the white knight by ... h7-h5 and then ... h5-h4.**
White has to get rid of the enemy e4-pawn in order to obtain maneuvering room.
Black further weakens his castled position, though at least this is consistent with his previous move.**
12. Nxe4 Par Score: 5
Accept only 2 points part credit for 12. fxe4. After 12. ... h4 13. Nh1 Nxe4 Black gets the position he was aiming for.
13. fxe4 Par Score: 4
14. Bd3 Par Score: 5
Having eliminated the e4-pawn, the bishop resumes its natural post. This is better than 14. Bf3 (3 points part credit), blocking the action of the rook on the f-file.
The try 15. ... Bg4 is answered by 16. Qd2, with penetration on h6. The basic idea is 17. Qh6, followed by 18. Bg5 and
19. Bf6. Black may hold off mate, but his dark squares remain very weak.**
16. Bf4 Par Score: 5
White develops the bishop and intends to follow up with 17. Qd2 and 18. Bh6+.
Thus Black hopes to organize a dark square defense.**
17. Qd2 Par Score: 5
The threat of 18. Bh6+ (1 bonus point) has almost materialized.
After 17. ... Rh8 the position is ripe for a breakthrough in the center, 18. e5 (1 bonus point), especially since Black has three sleeping pieces on the queenside. A sample line is 18. e5 dxe5 19. dxe5 fxe5
20. Bg5 Qc5+ 21. Kh1 Nd7 22. Bf6+! Nxf6 23. Qg5 Bf5 24. Rxf5 Raf8 25. Rxe5 Qd6
These problems are all related to key positions in this month's game. In each case, Black is to move. The answers can be found in Solutions on page 71.
November Exercise: When reviewing chess games it's natural to focus on shots and winning moves, forgetting the significance of the bad moves that came first and made the good ones possible. So as an exercise, try analyzing from another perspective, hoping to comprehend why and how a player goes wrong, with special attention to the conditions preceding mistakes and ways they might have been averted. Indeed, we can sometimes gain more by understanding how to avoid a mistake than how to exploit it. As Fyodor Dostoyevsky says in Demons, "In every misfortune there is always something cheery for an onlooker, whoever he may be."
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