Chess Openings – Nimzo-Indian Defence

Chess Openings – Nimzo-Indian Defence


Welcome to chessopenings.com. In this video
we will take a look at the Nimzo-Indian, which is the most popular reply
to the queen’s pawn opening. It begins with the moves, pawn to d4, knight
of 6, pawn to c4, e6, knight c3, and now bishop to b4. During this video
we will take a look at the most interesting and popular lines for both sides
in the Nimzo-Indian. Let’s take a look. Black’s use of the pinning move, bishop b4,
introduces two significant hassles for White. Firstly, the bishop on
b4 prevents White from stretching out in the center with this move, e2 to e4.
That’s because of the pin on the knight at the moment. The second factor,
which Black is taking account of with this move, bishop b4, is the threat
to capture on c3 at some point, and give White double C pawns on the c5. Now,
what are White’s arguments going to be in this position? First of all,
he does still maintain a space advantage, thanks to the duo of pawns on d4
and c4. It is due to this factor that Black will have some problems
developing the remainder of his pieces. Secondly, White can still aim to advance
the pawns forward, at some point, if Black does not play carefully. So,
White still has a space advantage. The second factor that can work to White’s
favor is this possibility of gaining the bishop pair. Perhaps, he’ll either
provoke the bishop with the move, a3, either now or at some other later
stage in the game, and then accept the bishop pair, or he may find that
Black may unprovoked capture on c3. In both cases, White will have the dark
squared bishop and the light squared bishop versus a bishop and knight.
Due to this, if the game suddenly opens up, the dark squared bishop
could become a monster. Also, the bishop pair also offers some great chances
in the end game. Today, we are going to restrict ourselves
to understanding the most popular options for White, beginning with the move,
queen to c2. This is known as the classical variation, or is also sometimes
called the Capablanca variation. What score I did here was to play
a2 to a3, just like we had talked about, and then to snatch this bishop
without having to double his pawns. He is setting the queen up for recapture
here. For example, after the popular reply castle’s king side, now
pawn to a3, bishop takes knight, and queen takes bishop. We see here that White
has already gained the bishop pair. The dark squared bishop does
not have a contender on the Black side. So, we have reached a stagnant position which
is highly important and representative of some of the main issues
in the Nimzo-Indian. White has capitalized on one of the most important downsides
of this position. However, White has fallen a little bit behind
in development. He is using his queen too actively in the opening, and
the queen is vulnerable to attack. White simply has not done very much
to complete his development. White knows that he needs to catch up in development,
and at the same time he is probably going to still be struggling
to expand this E pawn into the center. It is this combination of extra space
and the bishop pair that White is hoping to turn into a deadly combination. A hallmark of the Nimzo-Indian though is its
flexibility for Black. Black had a development advantage here, and many
different plans which he can try in this position with varying degrees of success.
The most standard reply here is simply to play this move, b6, followed
by bishop b7, thereby further controlling the squares along this
diagonal. Perhaps, at some point, he might attack Black in the center
with this move, pawn to c5, or in certain special cases, he might use the
move, pawn to d5. This is one setup. Another setup which has become very
popular recently – Kramnik, for example, the former world champion, has played
several games in this line – is to play the move, pawn to d5, here. The
idea here is simply to capture on c4. Now, Black is going to use a very annoying
system of development for this bishop. He is trying to bring this bishop
out to a6. At some point, Black will also play for pawn to c5. White
has had big problems finding very much in this position as well, though
he still has a slight advantage. This is one more system that is sometimes
used in this position. Finally, another more flexible system is simply
for Black to play d6, and now to finish his development with the moves,
knight d7, b6, and bishop b7, and later pawn to c5. He may also contemplate
pawn to e5. All of these different systems give Black a different position
and they each allow him some decent chances, but White tends to have
just a small initiative remaining in these positions. Backing up to the position after queen c2,
Black still has a couple of other ways to open up his attack on the center
more quickly. For example, he can play this move, pawn to d5. In this
position, unlike the traditional Queen’s Gambit, Black already threatens to
win the c4 pawn, thanks to this pin on the knight. Just to give an example
of how this works: if pawn takes pawn, White would normally just be able to
recover this pawn fairly easily, however, in this position, the move b5 is
playable, thanks to this pin. Theory shows that White has big problems in
trying to recover his pawn, and does not have enough compensation in the center. Perhaps, another logical move would be to
move pawn to e3, but theory has also shown here that this is not a very good
move for White since White isn’t really able to get his bishop out in
this position and the queen is a little bit misplaced here. It’s not so easy
for White to just play a3 and capture on c3, like he would like to do here,
because Black’s grip on the center is just a little bit too strong for
White to now continue in this kind of fashion. Theory shows that Black tends
to be more or less OK if he is combining the moves, queen c2 and e3 together.
For this reason, White does not play e3. Typically, White handles
this situation by playing pawn takes pawn in the center. It might look like
this gives up all of the advantage in the center. However, we have
to remember that we are trading a flank pawn for a center pawn. This yields
us a two to one majority in the center. Another point is that, if Black recaptures
with the pawn, the bishop b4 is not very well placed anymore.
It looks like that bishop would rather be on e7 where it protects against
the potential pin bishop to g5. So, it turns out that sooner or later, Black
may regret having played bishop b4. This is one method for White to
aim for an advantage in this situation after pawn takes pawn, and pawn
takes pawn in the center. He has got the two to one in the center, and he is
trying to point out that this bishop on b4, may be misplaced. Another interesting idea that Black has developed
in this position is that after the move, pawn takes pawn, he can actually
make use of the pin by capturing with the queen. This is very interesting.
The idea here is that White’s queen is missing in action from her
normal post on d1. Because of this, Black is already threatening to play
queen takes d4. If White plays, for example, the natural pawn to e3, then
we have a lot of counter-play for Black after the move pawn to c5 taking down
the center and creating some weaknesses. Because of this, White tends to
keep his options more open with the move, knight to f3, in order to defend
this d4 pawn, and now perhaps looking to play bishop d2, and start a threat
on the queen. And now, quite interestingly, the key move here for Black
turns out to be queen to f5, a very interesting move in the Nimzo-Indian.
The idea here is that after the trade of queens, which White normally goes
for, Black has just set up a very strong grip on this e4 square, but he
has done so at the cost of his structure somewhat. He has some slightly doubled
pawns, but he says look, I am going to be able to get a decent game here,
and in the meantime you are going to have real trouble advancing the center
in the way that you’d like to. Theory suggests that Black is very close
to having a strong equality in this position, but White, once again, has
some slight initiative. Your head might be spinning here a little
bit as you might be thinking, wait a minute, Black seems to have just way
too many options in this opening. We’ve noticed, for example, so far
we’ve seen an early d5. We’ve seen a later d5 after the exchange on c3.
We’ve seen all kind of different setups for Black. It’s here that I want to
talk about a third aspect of the Nimzo-Indian that I think is really strong
for Black. So far, we have shown that there is a potential to double the C
pawns. There is also this control of the e4 square which restrains White. However,
I think a third function of the Nimzo-Indian is its flexibility. Black
has not placed any pawns in the center early, and because of this, he
often finds himself having multiple plans to address whatever system
White comes up with. Backing up to this position where we were
exploring the move queen c2, White has another very popular response to
the Nimzo-Indian, and that is to simply get on with development with the move,
pawn to e3. In this way, he shores up the d4 pawn so that it is not too
vulnerable to an early c5 attack, and he prepares to develop his knight
and place his bishop on d3. Black’s hope is simply to grab the bishop
pair, at the right moment with a2 to a3, and to later orchestrate this move,
e3 to e4. He is not trying to prioritize these aims over completing development.
He is more interested in staying at par in development with Black in
this line. Though Black can flirt with some other ideas,
these days Black tends to lean towards playing castle and king side,
and then bishop d3. Now, Black typically chooses a direct occupation of the
center with the move, pawn to d5, knight at 3, pawn to c5, castles king
side. Here, Black has a few options, all of which lead to very interesting
strategic problems for both sides. One idea is simply to capture on c4
with D takes c4, and then to quickly proceed with development with this
move, knight B to d7. This is one idea. The main idea is for Black to simply
play knight to c6. This is the most popular, most standard idea. At this
point, White finally cashes in and takes the bishop pair, a3, bishop takes
knight, pawn takes bishop. This is a standard Nimzo-Indian structure
in which White has the bishop pair, and he will not have to live with the
doubled C pawns for long since he always has the option of taking on d5,
and Black often takes on c4 himself in these positions. The question here,
is whether or not White will eventually be able to make anything out of
the dark squared bishop, or will his doubled C pawns, and Black’s knight turn
out to be more persuasive factors in the struggle, which comes up? If
White can ever achieve the move, e3 to e4, and bring the dark squared
bishop into the game, he often wins gloriously. He often wins through fantastic
attacking style or through outstanding endings. However, if Black is
able to restrain this, Black has excellent counter chances. Another key line – the only other line that
I’m going to show here – is C takes d4, and now after pawn takes pawn, pawn
takes pawn, and bishop takes pawn, this would lead to the isolated queen’s
pawn structure, which we have talked so much about throughout the videos.
So, the battle from here rages about whether or not White’s open lines and
his advanced outpost – the scope for his piece is right – the battle
here is whether or not these things fully compensate for the weakness on
d4. Theory has shown that in this particular isolated queen’s pawn position,
Black is taking serious risk, as the White D pawn does contribute
big attacking chances for White. We’ve looked at a lot of the main lines of
the Nimzo-Indian. Even though it seems like the strategic content is changing
quite frequently, I think you will find that there are certain themes of
the Nimzo-Indian that don’t change very often, no matter what variation
is being played. Some of these themes, for example, are the bishop pair,
doubled C pawns, control by Black of the light squares, particularly e4, White
struggling to achieve the move, pawn to e4, and White’s struggle to
bring the bishop pair to fruition. By studying the Nimzo-Indian, if
you isolate these few things and you pay attention to how these particular
factors influence the game, you can learn a considerable amount about chess
in general, and about the Nimzo- Indian. I recommend this opening with White
and with Black. I look forward to seeing you again, and thank you.

100 thoughts on “Chess Openings – Nimzo-Indian Defence

  1. I'm glad you enjoy the videos! The London could be an interesting topic for future videos, so I will note this suggestion

  2. I'm not sure which position you're referring to but my guess is you're considering a position where Black has the possibility of playing …Nc6 blocking the queen's check and defending the b4-bishop at the same time.

  3. another great video. You could well do a part two for this, its a complex topic. The white option of a catalan for example……

  4. yes, i would also like to know more about the nimzo-indian defence. You´re a great teacher, i really like your videos. Keep on it.

  5. Thanks for the nice insights!! I like your website on chess openings 🙂
    Do you also plan on covering the tactics of GM-level games?

    Thanks in advance 🙂

  6. Good question! It's good news for Black that White has spent a tempo developing the bishop so passively. One may suggest that White now threatens a2-a3 and can recapture with the bishop (gaining the bishop pair without damaging the pawn structure) but quite often Black is able to immediately play …Ne4! and recover the bishop pair anyway. 4…O-O, 4…b6, 4…c5, and 4…d5 have all done well after 4.Bd2.

  7. Great video! I've enjoyed watching all of your videos. With the Nimzo-Indian, I was wondering what your opinion is on the Leningrad Variation after black's move 3…Bb4, white's move 4. Bg5; is this a viable response to the pin on white's knight on c3 with a counter pin on black's knight on f6? does white benefit with this pin or does he lose time after black, perhaps, moves 4…h6. Looking forward to hearing from you as well as watching more chess opening videos. Thanks!

  8. (1/2) Interesting question! The move 4.Bg5!? does not have a strong reputation. If White were able to exploit the pin and play an early e2-e4 then this move may indeed make a lot of sense. However, Black normally replies 4…h6 5.Bh4 c5 – and White's center comes under immediate pressure since 6.e3? can be met with 6…Qa5! 7.Qc2 Ne4!

  9. (2/2) Thus, the main move by far is 6.d5 but here too Black has generally achieved a good game by playing 6…d6 7.e3 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 e5 or the immediate 6…Bxc3+. I believe these variations simply demonstrate that the deployment of White's dark-squared bishop is simply not a top priority.

  10. It depends what else is going on to be sure – but Black can sometimes handle this by positioning his pawns in the symmetrical fashion.

  11. It's actually a fair move known as the Samisch Variation. The problem for White is that it spends a tempo giving Black an exchange that he'd like to make. Black plays …Bxc3+ and after bxc3 he has the superior pawn structure in exchange for the bishop pair. I believe Black has about equal chances there but it's not a horrible move by any means

  12. Thanks for your great videos Dereque Kelley. Respect from Vietnam. And I have one question: How Black should reply when facing the aggressive move 4.Bg5 ?

  13. thank you very much Dereque, your videos have really helped me in chess 🙂 Regards from lebanon. But we have not heard from you lately and are waiting for your newest videos.

  14. I like your videos. There are so many openings and I don't want to read a book about each one. I play Nimzo Indian every time vs D4

  15. @Hoang: You're very welcome! This question was raised below, simply load the remaining comments and you will see 🙂

  16. Since when was the Nimzo-Indian more popular than the King's Indian? Moreover, it is not a true Indian system because black doesn't have to fianchetto.

  17. In the position at 5:30 after black moves the d-pawn, Could white not simply snap off the bishop with Qa4?  Is there a reason you wouldn't want to do that?

  18. hey Dereque,you said that 4.Bg5 can be met with 4…..h6 5.Bh4 c5 6.e3? Qa5 7.Qc2 Ne4 which is good for black;but 1 of my opponents played 8.Nge2! .what should black play then?

  19. i love dereque kelley and his smiles…pls keep it up.Amongst other things i enjoyed while watching your video is the way you make chess look so easy and facinating…i wish i could know you more.Keep up the good work!!!

  20. What if white does Bd2? Unpins the knight and allows you to trade without doubling the pawns, plus doesn't require early development of the queen.

  21. this channel is so amazing for all players but especially under 12 – under 20  such as myself and senior beginners

  22. Dereque,

    I always hate myself when I forget to keep coming back to your videos. When I lose in the opening, the reason why is obvious. Because I LOST in the opening. As ALWAYS Grateful !!!

  23. Another good video. I hope you cover other variations as well! I played the Classical Variation so far, but I will experiment with 3. Nf3 and 4. Nf3.

  24. At 8 minutes, white should have used knight to take black queen. Much better than sacrificing white queen for black queen. Just my humble opinion?

  25. I'm struggling to find a variation I have in mind anywhere on the internet. As a low rated player I may see this variation of the Nimzo in my game.

    1. d4 nf6 2. c4 e6 3. nc3 bb4 4. say e3 or nf3, black then responds with Ne4?!

    Question is, how do I deal with this pesky Ne5? Do I need to play Qc2 or bd2 to prevent that? Is Ne4 otherwise good for black? Thanks. This Ne4 is something I'm likely to see at my level.

  26. Derque can you still fienchetto the bishop even if white doesn't play Qc2? And instead of c5 can you play Bxc3 followed by d6 fienchetto the bishop and then c5 later on? Thanks I will appreciate your feedback

  27. What happens if White responds with 5.Bd2? Is it a bad move or there are better moves? BTW great video and explanation

  28. A new question that has appeared on my mind lately, Dereque… sometimes players who play Qc2 will find themselves free to play e4 next turn (if they don't mind the doubled-pawns). Even with double pawns, they can get the center with e4-d4, and game now gets much harder for black.

  29. At 8:06 why can't white break the pin on the knight by playing 1. a3 Ba5 (maintaining the pin) 2. b4 unpinning the knight with a double attack on bishop and Queen? All with a tempo on the bishop

  30. In my opinion in chess the queenside castling procedure is not done correctly in the rules of chess. I quess Mr. Ruy Lopez who introduced the castling thing forgot to add one more square to the Kings move to the long castling procedure on the queenside. Here's the correction: When long castling on the queenside only, the king should move "three squares' to the left instead of only two squares to the left and the rook goes on the other side of him as usual. This modification is needed to make castling symmetrical fitted like it's done when kingside castling. The purpose of castling in the first place is to tuck the king safely into the corner of the chessboard instead of half way into the center of the board where the king is not protecting the queen's rook pawn like it's supposed to when it's done when kingside castling.

  31. Dereque can you make middle game and endgame tactics? It would be great and less time consuming than opening and will help beginners alot thanks!!!

  32. Love your videos, Dereque! Are your apps still available for Android? I've have trouble finding them in the Google Play store…

  33. HEY, I am a real fan, hope one day Mr Petrov accepts my friend request on chess.com and we play a little just for fun…

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