Kindred’s Special: The Leningrad Variation vs Nimzo-Indian Defense

Correspondence chess allows the player to experiment using original thoughts and ideas largely because there is nothing really at stake other than one’s score but risk and enjoyment of a good fight is worth the trouble.

           White:  Donald P. Reithel     Black:  R. Friedenthal

             Opening: Leningrad System vs Nimzo-Indian Def.

1.d4  Nf6  2.c4  e6  3.Nc3  Bb4

White has established a firm central complex formation frequently found in a number of opening systems. Black choses the Nimzo-Indian Defense as a means to combat this with the hopes of sharing a portion of the center and hoping to counterattack White’s central dominance.


This move was favored by Spassky and decided to give it a try although I knew little about it.

4…h6 5.Bh4 c5  6.d5  b5!?

This move gives the game its appeal and caught me off guard to say the least. It appears in Nunn’s Chess Openings book but I was unfamiliar with it if it indeed even existed when this game was played.


Not mentioned in Nunn’s book. I could not find a reference to any game where Spassky met …b5. In some ways it might transpose into  4.Qc2 O-O 5.Bg5 c5, 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 as appears on page 477 of Nunn’s book minus the b-pawn move.

7…bxc4 8.O-O-O

To stir the juices and shoot into high gear the tactical elements that make up chess. It is a risk but then Lasker, the great fighter, often employed such so I decided to purely experiment in this game.

8…Bxc3 9.bxc3 exd5 10.e4

To be considered is 10.Rxd5 and if d6, then 11.e4. My idea at the time was to create a dynamic and stressful position requiring alert minds from both players.

10…d6 11.exd5 O-O 12.Bxc4 Nbd7

Material equality has been restored but the position is sharp and dangerous. Strategically White has the Bishop-pair and Black has an open b-file on the Qside where White’s King resides.


It was hard to decide how to proceed but in retrospect it seems to me that maybe 13.Ne2 Nb6 14.Bd3 was more appropro because I could answer perhaps ..Nxd5 with 15.Be4 or Bh7+.


Gaining square count and this will eventually give Black an inroad into my defensive position hard to meet.

14.a3 Nb6 15.c4  Bg4 16.f3 Bh5 17.Ne2 Bg6! 18.Qd2 Nbd7 19.Bg3 Qb6 20.Ba2 Nh5?!

Not necessarily bad but why take his eye off the Qside? More to the point was 20…Rab8 with things like …a4 and …Qa5 at some point striking into the King’s position.

21.Nc3 Nxg3  22.hxg3  Ne5 23.Qe2 Rfe8 24.Qf1 Re7

With battles going on in several games by post, it was hard to admit that my position looked sick. But here again I had some false hopes that he did not see the interesting plan of jump moves: …Rab8, …a4,…Qa5. With the next, I had dreams of surviving somehow.

25.Nb5 Rae8 26.Bb1 Bxb1 27.Kxb1

I did not like having the King on b1 but what can one do when it is forced there? And now Black finally spots his best chance.

27…a4! 28.Rd2 f6?

This unexplainable shift to the K-side loses important tempi needed for the attack on the King position. Also, it weakens the g6 square which in the end, gives White the endgame victory.

29.Rb2 Qa6?

Black would just as well try 29…Qa5.

30.Ka2 Nf7 31.Qd3 Re3 32.Qb6  R/8-e7 33.f4!

Using my square count theory if I may be so bold as to suggest it as it strongly suggests this pawn advance to stop N going to e5.

33…R/7e4 34.Rc1 Re2

This decision to exchange off Rooks was understandable as he appears to be unable to find a promising plan to improve his own position. The ending resulting of Q+N  is favorable only to me.

35.Rcc2 Rxc2 36.Qxc2 Rxb2+ 37.Kxb2 Kf8

I must say that my guardian Angel must have had something to do with my uplifted spirit! Actually had Black followed up correctly and attacked my King position, he would have a superior and quite possibly a winable endgame himself. Readers might refer back to my column titled: Don’t Give Up the Ship!

38.Qe6 Qb7 39.Kf2 Qb8 40.Qd7 g6 41.Kd2!

I got on my bike and started to peddle away and avoid nips by the Queen.

41…Kg7 42.Ke2 h5  43.Kf2  g5

This reminds me of a Capablanca like ending where he often had his opponent in a dandy Zugswang.

44.Kf3 Kg6 45.Qe7 Kg7 46.Nc7 Qb3+ 47.Kf2 Qb2+ 48.Kg1 h4 49.Ne6+ Kg6 50.g4 Black Resigns (1-0).

Black avoids getting mated.

Again this is an example of keeping a cool head and even in difficult circumstances remaining vigilant for the slightest inaccuracies. As the old saying goes, victory comes usually to the player who makes the next to last mistake! Give cc play a look see and you may find you like it!


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