I usually go for the setup of Nf6, d5, e6, Be7, O-O, c5, Nc6 but I noticed that the White players are so familiar with these positions, and the winning rate for White according to the database is huge against this line! So I would like some recommendations against the Nimzo-Larsen attack when white starts with Nf3, and then plays b3. I would like a position with clear plans and easy to understand if possible.

Edit: I forgot to mention that I play the Nimzo-Indian and Ragozin defenses with Black. So when White plays d4, or Nf3 on move one, I play Nf6.

  • I am a bit surprised that white has a huge winning rate in the setup that you described, can you show the exact line?
    – Akavall
    Sep 26 '20 at 16:19
  • 1
    An example line is: 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.b3 d5 3.Bb2 e6 4.g3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O c5 7.c4 Nc6 8.e3 b6 9.Nc3 Bb7 10.cxd5 Nxd5 11.Nxd5 Qxd5 12.d4 Even if Black plays 10...exd5 still White's winning percentages are high!
    – Guess601
    Sep 26 '20 at 18:56

What about 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.b3 d5 3.Bb2 Bg4?

Black development plan is very simple, the main line goes like this:

[FEN ""]
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. b3 d5 3. Bb2 Bg4 4. e3 Nbd7
5. Be2 e6 6. O-O Bd6 7. c4 c6 8. d4 O-O 9. Nbd2

In this position, despite white bishop aiming it is own pawn it is still potentially dangerous; therefore, standard e5 or c5 breaks are not usual in this position.

The safest approach for black is try to exchange the dark-squared bishops with 9...Qe7 10. Ne5 Ba3.

Another approach, most intuitive in my opinion, is 9...Ne4 10. Nxe4 dxe4 If white plays 11. Nd2 then after 11. Bxe2 Qxe2. 12...f5 black has play on the king side, the bishop is aiming at h2 and the queen can be brought to h4 or/and rook to h6 via f6. If white plays 11. Ne5 and then 11... Bxe2 12.Qxe2 black could play 12...f6 forcing 13. Nxd7 and here again black can play on the king's side.

It is also common to bring the queen play 9...Qc7 or 9...Qb8 with the aim of controlling the e5 square and preventing Ne5. But I am not very familiar with this plan.

Also, the position you describe can be reached via 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 move order.

[FEN ""]
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 e6 4. O-O Be7
5. b3 O-O 6. Bb2 c5 7. c4

to avoid it you can go for the same black setup, with the bishop on g4.

  • that's a great line. Thanks. But can tell me more about Black's plan in the first position? Like what pawn breaks or squares are Black playing for? Or what Black is trying to accomplish? Should Black play on the Queenside, Kingside, or center?
    – Guess601
    Sep 27 '20 at 3:01
  • @Guess601, I updated my answer. I am not a master player, so take my advice with caution :).
    – Akavall
    Sep 27 '20 at 16:50
  • Thanks a lot for the feedback. I think that in the first diagram it should be 9.Nbd2, and it should be 9...Ne4 10. Nxe4 dxe4.
    – Guess601
    Sep 27 '20 at 17:28
  • I also think that the 9...Ne4 variation is the most straightforward way of playing. Nice variation.
    – Guess601
    Sep 27 '20 at 19:58
  • Btw if White starts with 1.b3, I follow it up with almost the same setup but the light-squared bishop is developed to f5 instead of g4. What do you think of this?
    – Guess601
    Sep 27 '20 at 22:07

Dont know what theory says but I play the dutch with 1...f5 after white opens with the horsie to nf3 and have decent results against people I play with now for fun.

Full disclosure I gave up playing in international tournaments decades ago.

c5 or g6 could work for you if you dont play the dutch.

  • I edited the question in order to include 1...Nf6 for Black, because of my repertoire. Thanks for the suggestion anyway.
    – Guess601
    Sep 25 '20 at 23:21

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