Queen’s Indian defense is a queen’s pawn opening that starts with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 . White plays 3.Nf3 to avoid the sharp Nimzo Indian defense which occurs after 3.Nc3. But black can go for similar ideas by playing 3…b6. So as you would have guessed, it is essential for a Nimzo-Indian player to learn the Queen’s Indian defense as well.
White’s main move here is 4.g3, with intention to challenge the black’s strong bishop which would appear on b7. The main line goes 4…Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7 6.0-0 0-0
Note that black can also play 5…Bb4+, and after 6.Bd2 a5 7.0-0 0-0 8.Bf4 Be7, we reach a similar set-up as the main line with inclusion of black’s a5.
The Polugaevsky Gambit with 7.d5
Here white has a very interesting pawn sacrifice 7.d5, which is called the Polugaevsky Gambit. It is a very tricky sacrifice because black can come under strong attack very easily by removing the e6 pawn. For example 7…exd5 8.Nh4! c6 9.cxd5 Nxd5 10.Nf5 Nc7
Black wants to play d5 and free up his postion. But white’s pieces are very free and aggressive. The line may go 11.e4 d5 12.Nc3 Bf6 13.exd5 cxd5 14.Bf4
Black is a pawn up but it is an isolated pawn which will be blockaded. White has a good compensation for the pawn. Notice that if black had played 12…dxe4, then after 13.Qg4 Bf6 14.Nxe4 black’s position would become very difficult.
Also, if black plays 11…c5 instead of d5, then also white gets a very strong attack with 12.Qg4 Bf6 13.f4 and again it is very hard to defend for black. Thus the Polugaevsky Gambit can be very dangerous for black if caught unaware.
White plays 7.Nc3
However, white’s main move is 7.Nc3. The main line goes 7…Ne4 8.Qc2 Nxc3 9.Qxc3 c5 10.Rd1 d6 11.b3 Bf6 and black is considered to be fine here.
Black plays 4…Ba6
Black sometimes plays 4…Ba6 with the intention to attack the c4 pawn. After 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 c6 7.bc3 d5 we reach the following position.
Notice that black doesn’t hesitate to play d5 here because the bishop is on a6. Therefore the move d5 doesn’t block the bishop. After 8.Ne5 Nfd7 9.Nxd7 Nxd7 10.Nd2 0-0 11 0-0 Rc8
Here after 12.e4 c5 the center gets heated up with some sharp lines to be calculated.
White plays 4.e3
White can choose to place his bishop on d3. After 4.e3 Bb7 (Ba6 doesn’t make sense now) 5.Bd3 c5! 6.0-0 Be7 7.Nc3 cxd4 8.exd4 d5
And black continues a strong fight for equality.
Game Played with Queen’s Indian Defense
Here is classic game played between Nakamura, Hikaru (2785) vs Karjakin, Sergey (2781)
Queen’s Indian is also a very sharp opening resembling the style of Nimzo Indian defense where black tries to counter the center with either c5 or d5 strike. Lines such as the Polugaevsky Gambit should be watched out for when playing this opening for black. This opening is a good partner opening for those who play Nimzo Indian defense. Many ideas are similar and studying this opening also improves understanding of other similar structures.