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Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 (E40)
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3

Number of games in database: 574
Years covered: 1927 to 2019
Overall record:
   White wins 42.5%
   Black wins 25.6%
   Draws 31.9%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Svetozar Gligoric  11 games
Mikhail Botvinnik  10 games
Petrosian  7 games
Mark Taimanov  19 games
Nukhim Rashkovsky  13 games
Ludek Pachman  7 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Botvinnik vs Capablanca, 1938
Petrosian vs Fischer, 1959
Kotov vs Unzicker, 1952
D Rivera vs Fischer, 1962
Bondarevsky vs Smyslov, 1950
Fine vs Fischer, 1963
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 page 1 of 23; games 1-25 of 574  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Bogoljubov vs Ahues  ½-½54192725. DSB KongressE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
2. Menchik vs Colle 1-0391929ParisE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
3. Rubinstein vs W Winter 1-0231930ScarboroughE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
4. Alekhine / Bernstein vs Johner / Michel / Naegeli 1-0491930Consultation gameE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
5. Rubinstein vs Colle 1-0411930LiegeE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
6. Euwe vs Weenink  1-0481930VAS-ASCE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
7. J Rejfir vs Flohr 1-0221931Kautsky mem 8thE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
8. Rubinstein vs J Dresler  0-129193126-board SimulE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
9. Bogoljubov vs E Steiner 1-0371931Prague OlympiadE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
10. Euwe vs Capablanca ½-½331931Capablanca - EuweE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
11. P F Johner vs Bogoljubov  1-0441932BerneE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
12. A Hamming vs E Mulder  1-0381933ScheveningenE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
13. E Mulder vs P F van Hoorn  0-1241933ScheveningenE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
14. Pelikan vs I V Rohacek  1-0301935LuhacoviceE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
15. Pelikan vs E Maksimovic  1-0351936Kautsky mem13E40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
16. E Eliskases vs Ragozin  1-0571936MoscowE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
17. Keresztely vs E Strehle  1-0401936Munich OlympiadE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
18. E Eliskases vs J Dobias  1-0651937PragueE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
19. W Ernst vs R Duehrssen  0-1401937Bad SaarowE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
20. T van Scheltinga vs Golombek  1-07419377th olm finalE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
21. S Landau vs P Trifunovic  1-05319377th olm finalE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
22. Koltanowski vs La Mer  1-0311938Simul blind 1/8E40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
23. S B Gotthilf vs Lisitsin  1-066193811th USSR Championship SemifinalE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
24. Koltanowski vs Donald Belcher / Theodore Shedlovs  1-0371938Blindfold simul, 6bE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
25. Botvinnik vs Capablanca 1-0411938AVROE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
 page 1 of 23; games 1-25 of 574  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
May-02-05  refutor: what's the main line 4.e3 by the grandmasters nowadays?
Nov-17-05  AlexanderMorphy: <refutor> i think that the main line is the Rubenstein varation which goes as follows 1.d4, Nf6
2.c4, e6
3.Nc3, Bb4
4.e3, O-O
5.Bd3, d5
6.Nf3, c5
7.O-O, Nc6
8.a3, Bxc3
9.bxc3, dxc4
10.Bxc4, Qc7
Jan-03-06  aw1988: Hi there, you theory hounds and chess enthusiasts. The petty aw is here to beg you for an answer to a confused question.

e3 - aka the Rubinstein variation - is meant to avoid doubled pawns by Bd3 and Nge2. Is it necessarily bad after 4. e3, however, to just play 4...Bxc3?

Jan-03-06  csmath: 0-0, d5, c5 in either order. :-)

And it has always been that way though. This is all Rubinstein. ... 0-0, Bd3 ... c5 gives you flexibility to play sharper with Nf3 ... Nc6, 0-0 ... d5, a3 ... Bxc3, bxc3 ... dxc4, Bxc4 and then Qc7-e5 (depending on white as well).

The whole NID become somewhat marginal on higher level since defensive/positional white players can always avoid it by either steering the game into QID or something else but it works wonders against amateurs on all levels. Looks like dominant d4 on higher level is Slav and derivatives or QID among centerless openings.

Nov-28-06  Archives: I use to play 4.Qc2 and then switched to 4.Bg5, but have now decided to study and start playing 4.e3

After all, it was the system pioneered by my favourite player =)

Oct-01-08  Alphastar: <aw1988: Hi there, you theory hounds and chess enthusiasts. The petty aw is here to beg you for an answer to a confused question.

e3 - aka the Rubinstein variation - is meant to avoid doubled pawns by Bd3 and Nge2. Is it necessarily bad after 4. e3, however, to just play 4...Bxc3?>


The idea behind 4. e3 is that white's position is so much better after Bxc3+? 5. bxc3 than 4. a3 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3.

May-30-09  Amarande: <<Is it necessarily bad after 4. e3, however, to just play 4...Bxc3?>


There doesn't seem much difference to me, really ...

Let's consider the most salient point of the position here, namely White's Queenside Pawns, specifically the triad at c3/c4/d4 (this theme is pretty much the same in most of the Nimzo lines where Black does not play ... d5 and where White must recapture at c3 with the Pawn).

The most significant of these Pawns is the one at c4, which after Black's ... c5 (a move Black should make ASAP - allowing White c5 causes the Pawn structure advantage Black has to virtually disappear) is fixed, and extremely vulnerable - not merely "weak" but rather "sick" might perhaps be the best term here. Black should follow up with b6, Ba6, and Na5 (and also, generally, try as much as possible to encourage White to fix the center with d5), with very strong pressure - White is forced to tie two pieces to the defense of Pc4, and moreover is very restricted on what pieces these might be (the Rooks are unable to do the duty because of the obstructive Pc3, and thus only the Queen, Knight, and light Bishop are available). By contrast, only one Black piece is really put out of play by this, namely the Knight at a5; the Bishop can easily return to the fray via c8, and as in all cases with a weak Pawn, has the initiative over White's defending piece in doing so. However, Black's Knight does serve another useful purpose at a5; by being extremely difficult to drive off - the only White piece being able to do so being the Knight, and Nb3 is only possible if both Queen and Bishop cover Pc4 - it sets to naught any White hopes of taking advantage of the b-file by playing a4-a5 to lever against Black Pb6, the latter thus serving as a granite roadblock to the file.

In light of these Pawn structure considerations, it seems that the difference between 4 a3 Bxc3+ and 4 e3 Bxc3+ is merely a tempo for White. Specifically, we see at once that White cannot afford Black to be able to place four attackers against Pc4 - if he can do this, the Pawn is lost. Additionally, Black does have these attackers to spare, for he has two Knights (one of the cases in which two Knights are actually better than the two Bishops, simply because two Knights can both be focused on a weak point, while two Bishops cannot both defend it) and, once White's Queen develops (unless to c2), the Queen can move to a4 via d7.

Therefore, in many cases, at some point White will want to play a4, in order to forestall this intrusion by the Black Queen. As such, in the 4 a3 variation, White has frequently wasted a tempo with a3, while he has not done so with 4 e3.

But to me, it seems that a single tempo, especially one whose loss will not be felt for several more moves (perhaps never - if White plays against h7, he might play Bd3 and Qc2, where the Queen still prevents ... Qa4) is hardly enough to consider one variation significantly superior to another. This is especially true considering that White may also wish to play e4 at some future point (which means that then 4 e3 becomes a wasted tempo itself!).

In short, I'd say the immediate exchange after 4 a3 and 4 e3 leads to positions of too similar character to really qualify one as good and one bad.

May-30-09  SimonWebbsTiger: an immediate 4...B:c3 is weak because a) white has not wasted a tempo on a3 like in the Saemisch variation (4. a3); b) white has not commited his pieces, like a N to f3, which leaves the f-pawn free and Ne2 as possible, which should be compared to the Huebner variation (4.e3 c5 5.Bd3 Nc6 6. Nf3 B:c3 7. b:c3 d6, etc)

Sure, doubling the pawns is thematic, but it is just too early on move four.

Dec-23-10  Maatalkko: I am interested in 4...Nc6 with the idea of 5...e5. It seems relatively sharp and unexplored. Does anyone have any ideas on it?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eric Schiller: 4...Nc6 has been explored and was studied in an old Batsford book. Gligoric vs Korchnoi, 2007 js a recent example involving veterans
Dec-24-10  Maatalkko: <Eric Schiller> Perhaps you're thinking of something different. That game looks like something different. Merry Christmas Mr. Schiller; my prayers for your health.
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