Introduction to the Nimzo-Indian Defense

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The Nimzo Indian Defense is one of the most popular responses to d4. It’s played on all levels, and it hasn’t lost its popularity ever since it’s inventor, the great Aaron Nimzowitsch, introduced it in the early 20th century.

The strongest players in the world employ it with great success, and it is a powerful addition to anyone’s opening repertoire.

There are two main reasons for the popularity of the Nimzo. Firstly, it’s simple and easy to learn because it follows the natural chess principles. With the first three moves (Nf6, e6, Bb4), black is developing, controlling the center and preparing to castle. That makes the opening very natural and the possibility of a blunder is really low.

Secondly, the Nimzo Indian is flexible. Black can choose between numerous setups (not variations, setups), which enables him to adopt to his opponent’s style, strengths and weaknesses. Its flexibility means that white has a hard time preparing against it too.

The opening is a trade of advantages. With the move Bb4, black is pinning the c3 knight and threatening to take on c3, doubling white’s pawns. Bb4 also indirectly increases control over the e4 square, which white wants to play. So black is going for rapid development. His next move is going to be 0-0. And white is still a few moves away from getting his king into safety. That means that white has a deficit in development. In compensation, he has his d and c pawns controlling key squares in the center and gaining space.
Furthermore, black will often give up his bishop on c3, doubling white’s pawns and giving up his bishop pair. The Nimzo is imbalanced, for more reasons than stated above. It’s also very dynamic. Because of his lead in development and white’s king still in the center, it can often lead to quick attacks and very aggressive play.

It can be divided into four main variations and three sidelines. The bad news for black is that white is the one who chooses the variation. On move 4, white can choose between seven good moves. Black can, on the other hand, choose between several setups against each variation, so he is still the last to laugh.

The variations listed below will be covered in detail in separate videos. All the sidelines will be in one.

4. Qc2 Classical
4. e3 Normal (main line)
4. Nf3 Kasparov
4. f3 Kmoch (Saemisch)

Sidelines: Bg5 (Leningrad), g3 (Romanishin), a3



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