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The strong Hungarian Grandmaster Ferenc Berkes is our hero this month, featuring in two main games and a number of other notes. Along the way we’ll see the latest state of play in a critical line of the Torre, as well as plenty of developments in the London.

Download PGN of February ’18 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Torre Attack v KID, 2...g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 h6 5 Bh4 d6 6 e4 g5 7 Bg3 Nh5 [A48]

I’ve never entirely understood the attraction of meeting 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 with 4...h6 5 Bh4 d6 6 e4 g5 7 Bg3 Nh5 as Black, especially if then 8 c3 e6 is best, as actually it may be:

However, I have to hold my hands up and admit to some bias, as I quite like White’s chances in this line even when Black has saved a tempo with his g-pawn, i.e. in the 2...e6 3 Bg5 h6 4 Bh4 d6 variation. Berkes, F - Kozul, Z follows one of Berkes’ earlier games for a number of moves, but without Black coming close to demonstrating equality, although there was later one moment, and just one, when he could have been more than just OK.

The Torre Attack v KID, 2...g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 d5 5 e3 0-0 6 c3 Nbd7 7 Bd3 Re8 [A48]

The long and important line 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 d5 5 e3 0-0 6 c3 Nbd7 7 Bd3 Re8 8 0-0 e5 was quite topical at the start of this decade, because white players had discovered the strength of 9 e4!? exd4 10 cxd4 dxe4 11 Nxe4 h6 12 Qb3!:

Such a sharp policy by no means suits every Torre player, of course, but Black still has some questions to answer here and finally we have a new encounter to analyse, Wallace, JP - Michalik, P.

The Neo-London 2 Bf4 c5 3 dxc5 [A45]

The critical test of a 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 move order surely remains 2...c5, since, for example, 3 e3 g6 reduces White’s options (the Nc3 lines no longer have much sting), and there’s also the big issue of 3...Qb6. However, White might try 3 dxc5!?:

This really shouldn’t lead anywhere, but is not entirely without bite and certainly caught Black out in Plat, V - Zeller, F.

The London 2...e6 3 Bf4 c5 4 e3 b6 [A47]

Another line of the venerable London System which could cause long-term adherents to gasp is 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bf4 c5 4 e3 b6 5 Nc3!?:

I still quite like this switch to a Jobava-Prié type approach at this stage and 5...Nh5?! 6 Bg5 Be7 7 Bxe7 Qxe7 8 g4! was already pretty good for White in Berkes, F - Kveinys, A.

The London 2...e6 3 Bf4 c5 4 e3 cxd4 5 exd4 b6 [A47]

If Black wants to deploy a queenside fianchetto, he should likely flick in after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bf4 c5 4 e3 the exchange 4...cxd4 5 exd4 ahead of going 5...b6:

Now 6 Nc3 can be safely met by 6...Bb4, so White usually goes 6 Nbd2, but in Grischuk, A - Leko, P, he introduced a brand new idea, 6 Bb5!?.

The Jobava-Prié Attack, 2 Bf4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 e3 Bg7 5 h4 [D00]

Via a 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Bf4 g6 move order we get to discover some critical developments in one of the most topical lines of the modern-day London. Here it’s notable that Mark Hebden is still persisting with 4 Qd2 Bg7 5 Bh6, as we will see, but the main line remains 4 e3 Bg7 5 h4:

I’ve rounded up a number of recent game references in the notes to Bortnyk, O - Mikhalevski, V, where 5...a6 6 h5! Nxh5 7 Rxh5 gxh5 8 Qxh5 gave White plenty of play for the exchange and unfortunately our 1 e4 e5 expert was quickly in trouble.

The Neo-London 1...d5 2 Bf4 Nf6 3 e3 c5 4 c3 Nc6 5 Nd2 Bf5 [D00]

Quite a tricky and flexible approach from Black is 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 d5 3 e3 c5 4 c3 Nc6 5 Nd2 Bf5, developing the bishop as actively as possible, to which the critical response remains 6 Qb3:

Now 6...Qb6 7 dxc5! Qxb3 8 axb3 e5 9 Bg3 Bxc5 10 Ngf3 gives White decent chances of an edge, so 6...Qd7 7 Ngf3 c4 8 Qd1 e6 9 Be2 is critical when 9...h6 was Markus Ragger’s choice and held up well for Black in Nisipeanu, LD - Ragger, M.

I’m sure we’ll have more London developments next month. For now I’ve some chess to go and play! Richard

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