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Some legends return this month, as I certainly couldn’t pass over the chance to use games from Garry Kasparov and Ljubomir Ljubojevic. We’ll see a range of developments, not least new gambit approaches in the Trompowsky and the Torre.

Download PGN of August ’17 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 h4!? [A45]

Not too much seems to be happening in the main line Trompowsky, 2...Ne4 and then 3 Bf4, whereas 3 h4!? quietly continues to garner adherents. We’ll examine a few developments after the radical advance this month, not least the relatively untheoretical 3...c6 4 Nd2 Qa5 5 Ngf3 d5 6 c3 Bf5:

White players certainly shouldn’t fear this as 7 Nxe4! Bxe4 8 Nd2 presages early activity, as we’ll see in Artemiev, V - Rakhmanov, A.

The Trompowsky: 2...c5 3 d5 Qb6 4 Nc3 Qxb2 5 Bd2 [A45]

The reputation of the Vaganian Gambit, 2...c5 3 d5 Qb6 4 Nc3 Qxb2 5 Bd2 Qb6 6 e4 e5 7 f4 d6, is fairly high these days:

However, from a theoretical perspective much remains unresolved. For a start, should White begin with 8 Nf3 or 8 f5? Both those moves are certainly preferable to 8 Rb1 Qc7 9 Bb5+?!, which in Manolache, M - Vocaturo, D, quickly forced White to go all in.

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

2...e6 3 Nd2 remains in vogue, especially 3...h6 4 Bh4 c5 5 e4!? cxd4 6 e5 g5 7 Bg3 Nd5 8 h4:

This continues to supply quite attractive-looking compensation, as we’ll see in Cordova, E - Ljubojevic, L, and no surprise considering the dark-squared weaknesses created by the combination of ...c5, ...e6 and ...g5.

The Trompowsky: 2...e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 Nc3 [A45]

Black’s most solid encounters to 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 remain 2...d5 and 2...e6. We’ll take a look at White’s recent attempts against the former this month, which have been centred around the Jobava-driven 3 Nd2. The main line after the latter remains 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 and then 5 c3, but 5 Nc3 is not completely dead, with 5...d6 6 Qd2 Nd7!? 7 f4 g5!? already very fresh in Vaganian, R - Pelletier, Y:

That said, whether it will become trendy seems less clear, especially as 8 Nb5 Kd8 9 Nh3! gave the Trompowsky legend an early initiative.

The Torre Attack: 2...e6 3 Bg5 c5

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bg5 c5 White usually plays 4 e3, but have you ever considered 4 d5!? before?

I’m not sure that I have, but after 4...Qa5+ 5 c3!? (already a novelty!) 5...Nxd5 6 e4 Nf6 7 e5 Ne4 8 Nbd2 White enjoyed good development and sufficient play for his pawn in Vazquez Igarza, R - Baklan, V.

The Neo-London: 2 Bf4 c5 [A45]

1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 c5 remains a critical test of White’s move order and now has the Kasparov seal of approval to boot. Levon Aronian sensibly avoided too much preparation with 3 dxc5:

We’ve previously focussed on 3...Na6, but Aronian, L - Kasparov, G, makes a decent case for the straightforward 3...Nc6.

The London: 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Bf4 c5 4 e3 [D02]

After 1 d4 d5 2 Bf4 Nf6 3 e3 c5 White is by no means obliged to go 4 c3, with 4 Nf3 likely these days to be angling for 4...Nc6 5 Nbd2!?. That is not without its dangers for Black, but I’m far from convinced that 4....cxd4 5 exd4 really helps him, unusual type of Exchange Caro though this is:

White meets 5...Bg4 with 6 c3 and, ideally, 7 Qb3, while 5...Qb6?! 6 Nc3! quickly gave him a decent version of the Jobava-Prié Attack in Rosen, E - Agdestein, S.

That’s sadly all for this month. Until September, Richard

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