This CD investigates two systems against the Nimzo-Indian Defence, one of the most solid and reliable openings nowadays. Many years of practice and thousands of games couldn't solve the problem of getting an advantage for White in the Nimzo. The most popular variations, such as 4.Qc2 and 4.e3 contain vast amounts of material and are often being analyzed deep into the endgame but Black does not only hold himself there but even scores well. That's why it probably makes sense for White to leave the well-researched paths from time to time and try some other, maybe not worse but less popular variations.
Both of the variations analyzed on this CD enjoyed a big popularity in the past. Botvinnik, Bronstein, Geller, Spassky, to name just a few, were big adherents of the Saemisch variation in the past. Jussupow played it quite a few times as well. Nowadays Aleksandrov plays it very often and finds new ideas for White. In the sixties the popularity of the Saemisch variation sank as Black found ways to counter white attacks. The 4.f3 variation became very popular then as White doesn't lose a tempo chasing the black bishop on b4. It reached its peak of popularity in the beginning of the nineties, then the popularity started to go down in 1994, and beginning with 1999 it became quite popular again. At different times the big players like Shirov, Dreev, Sakaev, Yakovich, Volkov (thanks to the last three players the variation became popular lately) used to play this variation a lot. The author of this CD also played 4.f3 variation very often in the beginning of the nineties and nowadays I play it from time to time as well.
The author firmly believes that the variations 4.f3 and 4.a3, which are analyzed on this CD, are neither worse nor promise less chances for an opening advantage and are certainly not less interesting than the other lines of the Nimzo-Indian. In fact the variations in question are quite dangerous for Black and it's advisable for a black Nimzo-Indian player to study them first.
The author's sympathy in this work is on the white side (it's always tempting to find an advantage in such a solid opening like Nimzo-Indian!) but he has an experience for playing these lines with both colours and tried to be as objective as he could.
The move 4.a3 was first played in the game Ferrari-Stalda,1923, and not in Norman-Michell,1924 as some sources tell us. Then the German Grandmaster Saemisch worked out the whole system and started playing this variation regularly. He played his first official game with this variation in 1928 against Engel.
According to my database, 4.f3 was first played by Bogoljubow in 1931.
In comparison to the line with 4.e3, where White locks up his c1-bishop and opts for a slow solid development, and 4.Qc2, where in order to keep a good pawn structure White slows down the development, "developing" the queen instead , the lines with 4.f3 and 4.a3 look more tempting - White immediately tries to build up a pawn centre. Often one variation transposes, and that's why it makes sense to study them together and to not only know the exact moves but the ideas in general.
Playing 4.f3, with the idea of 5.e4, White starts a fight for the centre, which often turns into a sharp battle. The disadvantage of this variation is that the f3-pawn takes the natural square from white knight and the dark squares are being weakend.
After 4.a3, in comparison with the other variations, where the black bishop on b4 often retreats and is not exchanged for the knight, Black is forced to take the Knight on c3 thus strengthening White's centre, giving White the bishop pair and chances to launch an attack on the kingside. The weak c4-pawn can often be sacrificed for the initiative. The disadvantages of this line are also obvious - White loses a tempo playing 4.a3 and his pawns on the c-file can become rather weak. As a result, a double-edged position arises with chances for both sides. In both variations there is plenty of room for creativity and for new ideas.
With an Elo rating of 2606 the Swiss grandmaster ranks among the top-hundred chessplayers in the world. He is a regular contributor to ChessBase and one of the leading experts of the Nimzo-Indian with 4.f3.