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Our favourite d-pawn specials remain popular even at the highest levels of the game. This month we’ll see a couple of encounters from Wijk aan Zee, as well as Gata Kamsky’s latest adventures with his beloved London System.

Download PGN of February ’16 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky: 2...c5 3 Nc3 [A45]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 the sharp response 2...c5 has enjoyed a little bit of fashionability of late. In turn White’s most aggressive and risky response is 3 Nc3!? cxd4 4 Qxd4 Nc6 5 Qh4 e6 6 0-0-0 Be7 7 e4:

Here we’ve considered 7...d6 8 f4 Qa5 9 Nf3 on a number of occasions, but never 7...a6!?. This has been played by some pretty decent correspondence players and cropped up in Rapport, R - Adhiban, B, where the Hungarian talent lost his way at a surprisingly early stage.

The Trompowsky: 2...e6 3 Nd2 [A45]

Meeting 2...e6 with 3 Nd2 might well be somewhat less exciting fare you might think and yet White doesn’t always do so angling for a direct transposition to a Torre Attack. Indeed, 3...h6 4 Bh4 d5 5 e3 c5 6 c3 Nc6 7 Bd3 is somewhat more ambitious than the sensible and hardly shabby 7 Nf3.

Black can attempt to cut across White’s hope of getting in f2-f4 before Ngf3 with 7...Qb6, which quickly gave him very promising counterplay in Andreikin, D - Eljanov, P.

The Torre Attack: 2...e6 3 Bg5 h6 4 Bh4 d6 [A46]

1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 e6 3 Nf3 is, of course, immediately a Torre, and after 3...h6 4 Bh4 d6 White has a choice of set-ups, with 5 e3 g5 6 Bg3 Nh5 7 Nbd2 Radjabov’s recent choice:

While this may not seem too ambitious, Black underestimates the latent power behind the white set-up at his peril. Of course, the position should be equal, but just watch what happens in Radjabov, T - Mchedlishvili, M.

The London System: 2...e6 3 Bf4 b6 4 e3 Bb7 5 Nbd2 Be7 [A47]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bf4 b6 4 e3 Bb7 5 Nbd2 Be7 6 h3 one would expect Black to castle or push his c-pawn, but what else might he try?

Full marks if you somehow considered the tempo-losing 6...Bd6!?, which must have come as a surprise in Kamsky, G - Naumkin, I.

The London System v KID 2...g6 3 Bf4 Bg7 4 c3 d6 5 h3 0-0 6 e3 c5 [A48]

A line which Kamsky has faced much more often is 2 Bf4 g6 3 Nf3 Bg7 4 c3 d6 5 h3 0-0 6 e3 c5, which he likes to meet with 7 dxc5 dxc5 8 Qxd8 Rxd8 9 Nbd2:

We’ve considered this queenless middlegame on a couple of occasions before and while Black should be fine, sometimes Kamsky does manage to win, if not in Kamsky, G - Gordievsky, D.

The Barry Attack: 4...Bg7 5 e3 0-0 6 Be2 b6 [D00]

Yes, you didn’t misread the header - 3 Nc3 d5 4 Bf4 Bg7 5 e3 (we also have the latest from Wijk on 5 Qd2) 5...0-0 6 Be2 b6?! was employed by a GM of late! Of course, 7 Ne5 c5 8 h4 Bb7 9 h5 is already something of a dream for White:

The latest evidence, Skoberne, J - Vorobiov, E, does nothing to dispel the long-held view that this is a line that Black should be avoiding.

The Jobava-Prié Attack: 3...e6 4 Nb5 [D00]

Developments continue apace after 3...e6 with the jury still out on the issue of 4 Nb5 or 4 e3. The former was seen in Trjapisho, A - Gabrielian, A, where 4...Na6 5 e3 Be7 6 h3 0-0 7 Nf3 c5 8 c3 Bd7 9 a4! gave White a pleasant grip.

I haven’t found a great plan for Black here, so it seems that he is currently in need of a new idea if 3...e6 is to remain the most popular response to the Jobava-Prié.

Until next month, Richard

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