Queen’s Indian Defense

 by National Life Master Loal Davis

India_Queen_Draupadi

The Queen’s Indian Defense has often been thought of as a “poor cousin” of the Nimzo-Indian Defense.  Black doesn’t always get to pin that Knight on c3 and if Black isn’t going to fall back into a regular Queen’s Gambit, then the Queen’s Indian is a nice partner to the Nimzo-Indian.  As a matter of fact there are many who use the Nimzo/Queen’s Indian to their all around defense to the Queen Pawn; you may be able to stop one but not the other – and the themes are often the same and/or they can transpose into one another.

That being said, there is a flip side of the coin.  I was going through the Zuruch 1953 tournament book by David Bronstein and he makes the (rather bold) declarative statement that there are few real winning chances with the Queen’s Indian.  This may well explain his attachment to the King’s Indian.  Nevertheless his statement was stated so strongly, as though this was a truth everyone understood, that it sparked my curiosity as to whether this was really so.  I went through the largest of my (around four) mega-databases and looked for the Queen’s Indian.  I came up with 7,451 games.  Of these I narrowed it down to at least one of the players having a rating of 2500 or greater – one my favorite filters – it gives me (generally) some good quality games that I can learn from.  Even so this was a monstrous number of games.  I then went through and selected only the games where there were “super” or “famous” players on either side (my perception of course).  This list did not include Fischer (he didn’t play it), but Karpov, Kasparov, Korchnoi, etc. played the Queen’s Indian often, with good success; many of these games were played in World Championship matches.

I whittled these 200-300 games down to those that I thought were the most instructional.  It took quite awhile, but I eventually came down to three games that I’d like to share – in chronological order.

The first is Bogoljubow versus Capablanca – Bad Kissingen 1928.

Bogoljubow, Efim vs. Capablanca, Jose Raul,  Bad Kissingen,  1928.??.??,  Round 9As you can see, Black (Capablanca) has traded off a lot of pieces and is most likely OK, at least equal, but it’s not the style of game that gets my pulse racing; I don’t loose sleep at night thinking about positions like this.  White even has an open file for a Rook and has to be at least equal here too.  Capa starts by tucking his King on e7, protecting the h Pawn and then coming up with a beautiful long-range plan of activating his Rooks on the Queen side.  He eventually breaks through the c file, doubles his Rooks and finally maneuvers into the following position.

Bogoljubow, Efim vs. Capablanca, Jose Raul,  Bad Kissingen,  1928.??.??,  Round 9Black (Capablanca) To Play

Click on one of the diagrams (above) to step through the game.  After the second diagram, Capa makes just one more move before Bogo resigns.  Why?  Capa’s last move frees the e5 Pawn for mate.  Very nice; a rather long game, and White players are not always going to concede the importance of open files.  Let’s move on.

 Next is Horowitz versus Fine – New York 1934

Horowitz, Israel Albert vs. Fine, Reuben,  New York,  1934.??.??,  Round 5

Here Black (Fine) has set a nice positional trap hoping White will grab the c7 Pawn, when Rfc8 will hit the Queen and penetrate to c2 with a fork.

Horowitz, Israel Albert vs. Fine, Reuben,  New York,  1934.??.??,  Round 5Here Black comes up with a nice plan for extricating White’s Queen from c6.  He plays Rf6 followed by e5.

Horowitz, Israel Albert vs. Fine, Reuben,  New York,  1934.??.??,  Round 5

Not too much later Black (above) plays f4 with the idea of penetrating to g4 with the Queen.  On the Queen exchange he saves his Pawn with a driving wedge into f3+ before recapturing.

Horowitz, Israel Albert vs. Fine, Reuben,  New York,  1934.??.??,  Round 5

Fine finishes off with that wedge on f3 and Knight outpost on d3 bringing White to his knees.  Nd3 is a devastating fork of Bishop and f2 Pawn; then Nd3 supports f2 and it’s lights out.

Finally there is Keres versus Smyslov from the Zurich Candidates Tournament of 1953.

Keres, Paul vs. Smyslov, Vassily,  Zuerich,  1953.10.13,  Round 24

Keres playing White spent a lot of creative time on his last move (Rch3) – an ingenious Rook sacrifice.  Keres had to win this game as he was angling towards a match for the World Championship.  Should Black capture the Rook on h5, then White recaptures with his Queen and – – – who knows what is happening, much less if Black can survive the raging attack along the open lines with an exposed King.

Keres, Paul vs. Smyslov, Vassily,  Zuerich,  1953.10.13,  Round 24

 Smyslov pays attention to the CENTER and doesn’t even come close to biting that Rook.  He takes on c4 and later plays c3 providing a nice central outpost for his Queen.

Keres, Paul vs. Smyslov, Vassily,  Zuerich,  1953.10.13,  Round 24

 Take a good look at the diagram (immediately above) and you will see the value of the center in defense against a “raging” Kingside attack.

Keres, Paul vs. Smyslov, Vassily,  Zuerich,  1953.10.13,  Round 24

Black (Smyslov) to Play.

Smyslov finishes off with a nice tactical flourish.  Notice that White’s “attack” is spent; going nowhere.

 The Queen’s Indian doesn’t get a lot of press nowadays, but fashion dives in and out.

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One Comment

  1. Nice .. thanx for great post!

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