In the old days Kortchnoi used the English Opening to dodge the Nimzo-Indian. The downside of this approach is that black can play 1…e5 when it becomes very difficult for white to keep the position under control. Kramnik went one step back and popularized 1. Nf3 to stop black from his evil intentions. Starting with the knight is basically the attempt to combine the best of both worlds.
It should be noted, that white also gives up a lot of critical options:
- he cannot play the QGD Exchange Variation with Nge2 anymore
- he cannot play the KID-Sämisch anymore
- he cannot play the QGA with 3. e4 anymore
- he cannot play the Grünfeld with Bc4 anymore