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In this game, White appears to have lost the initiative against the Nimzo Indian defense as early as the fourth move, and certainly by the eighth move.

If White's next four moves were 1) e3, 2) Nf3, 3) Bishop moves and 4) O-O, White would get a solid defensive position that is characteristic of Black's play. Under the circumstances, does it make sense for White to "play Black" in this way if he wants to minimize his chances of losing?

(In the actual game, White adopted a more aggressive policy and succumbed to Black's superior development.)

One other feature of note. White was rated about 50 points weaker than Black, even though they were both Masters (2400 vs. 2450). Would it make sense for White to "play Black" if he were 50 points weaker, and play more aggressively if he were 50 points stronger?

  • The standard advice is to play aggressively against stronger players and solidly against weaker players. I'm not sure 50 rating points is a big enough difference for that kind of thinking to come into play; in that case maybe just play normally. – bof Mar 27 '16 at 6:56
  • There's no 'white' or 'black' play style. There is only the struggle for advantage. White begins with a small advantage, Black tries to take it a way. – Tony Ennis Mar 27 '16 at 14:36
  • @TonyEnnis: Let's say, White opens e3, Black plays e5, and White belatedly plays e4. Now you have a king pawn opening position with Black to move instead of White, meaning that you have "colors" reversed. White's best option at this point may be to play as "Black." That's what I meant for the game above. – Tom Au Mar 27 '16 at 16:58
  • @bof: OK, White the weaker player, played aggressively and gave it his "best shot" even though he lost. Whereas if he were stronger, it might make sense for him to play solidly as I indicated, and hope to "outlast" Black. – Tom Au Mar 27 '16 at 17:05
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This is actually quite common behaviour in the Nimzo-Indian defense. Black trades the bishop pair for either an advantageous pawn structure (e.g. in the Hübner variation) or a lead in development (like this game).

In the latter case, a successful strategy for White might be to neutralize Black's lead in development (which corresponds to your "play Black"), exchange some pieces and take advantage of his bishop pair in the late middlegame or the endgame. However, this style of play might not suit everybody.

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