The Bogo-Indian Defense is a very strong weapon for Black against 1. d4, based firmly on positional principles that guarantee black a good game in the long-term.
The opening starts with the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ and is named after Efim Bogoljubow. In this video, GM Damian Lemos is joined by FM WIll Stewart to explore this interesting opening. They particularly take the time to investigate how Black should proceed when White decides against 3.Nf3 and instead goes for 3.g3. This is one of White’s most popular opening choices in the queen-pawn system – the Catalan Opening with an early kingside fianchetto.
The Catalan Opening may look harmless at a superficial glance, but it is actually an extremely dangerous opening for White and Black should be prepared to handle it accordingly. GM Lemos demonstrates a very simple and effective method for Black to easily achieve equality (or more!) from the opening with energetic play. Not only is the Bogo-Indian Defense based on a very solid positional foundation, but it is also an extremely effective surprise weapon!
The Bogo-Indian vs The Catalan
After 2…e6, White often plays 3. Nf3, which is a more classical line of the Bogo Indian. Some White players, however, don’t want to play 3. Nc3 and enter these lines, not to let Black pin the knight with 3…Bb4. Therefore, an alternative is 3.g3. See the diagram on the left.
This move stops black from playing not only the Nimzo-Indian, but also the Queen’s Indian Defense. This is because if Black carries on with 3…b6 anyway, White can follow up with 4.Bg2, stopping Black from playing …Bb7 as desired. After 4.Bg2, Black could try …c6 instead, but it’s not always a good idea to commit yourself to this move so early in the opening; White could follow up with e4 and gain a nice center, for example.
So how should Black play after 3.g3? Black should still play 3…Bb4+.
White plays 4.Bb2 (4.Nc3 would be strange having already played g3, but if they should play this, you can simply capture it and damage White’s pawn structure.)
With 4…Bxd2+, Black removes the dark-squared bishops from the board – something Black usually looks to do in these lines. 5.Qxd2 d5 – and we enter a line that Magnus Carlsen has played successfully. GM Lemos and FM Stewart explore this line a little further on, but for now, let’s see what happens if White plays 5.Nxd2 instead.
The problem for White now is that the knight isn’t well-placed. It would rather be on c3 where it can have a stronger influence on the center.
Black can go ahead and play 5…d6. The general plan is that now the dark-squared bishops are traded, Black will put his pawns on the dark squares. This isn’t an opening like the Sicilian where you’re out to attack your opponent and win in 15 moves. This set-up gives you a solid positional foundation for the rest of the game. You’ve already traded off your worst piece.
It continues with 6.Bg2 e5. Black wants to take care of the center first, make an early stand. Black isn’t forced to castle yet, he can take his time and challenge the center instead.
We reach the position in the diagram to the right. Make sure to watch the video to see White’s options in this position and how Black can continue. The good news is that this opening is really about the ideas for Black, and not really about learning deep theory.
Crush White with the Bogo-Indian
Combined with the Nimzo-Indian Defense, the Bogo-Indian Defense represents a comprehensive opening solution for black against 1. d4.
The Bogo-Indian is a popular opening at the Grandmaster level however it is very uncommon at the beginner and intermediate levels because many of the positional concepts are advanced and difficult to grasp at first glance. However, spend a little time with GM Damian Lemos and soon you’ll be able to deploy this opening as your surprise weapon to start picking up some wins at your chess club.
The full course from GM Damian Lemos and FM Will Stewart provides you with the deep understanding-based learning you need to succeed in chess – emphasizing comprehension of the reasons behind the moves instead of rote memorization of lines.