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For once no Londons as we catch up with the relevant action from across a typically busy summer of chess in Europe.

Download PGN of August ’18 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 d5 4 e3 Bf5 [A45]

It’s always great to see Trompowsky pioneer Rafael Vaganian still making use of the opening. 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4 d5 4 e3 (Victor recently preferred 4 f3 and our 1 e4 e5 expert won well, as we’ll see in the notes), when 4...Bf5 is one of Black’s more solid defences:

Of course White must avoid 5 c4?? e5!, so he usually prefaces that break, as well as g2-g4, with 5 f3, but simple development with 5 Bd3 was preferred in Vaganian, R - Skatchkov, V.

The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 6 d5 [A45]

Another encounter from the same team tournament in Moscow, the Botvinnik Memorial (I can’t believe the Patriarch would have approved of such prolific use of the Trompowsky!), saw Black follow a recent trend after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 6 d5 of avoiding 6...Qb6. Even the theoretical Maxime Lagarde has dodged theory so, but 6...d6 7 e4 g6 8 Na3 remains a pleasant edge for White:

Black can easily find himself low on counterplay in the resulting Schmid Benoni positions, something which White can even look to exploit with an early g2-g4 and kingside attack, as we’ll see in Babazada, K - Atabayev, M, where a grandmaster was routed.

The Trompowsky: 2...e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 c3 [A45]

Geordie FM Tim Wall continued to fly the flag for the Trompowsky, as well as the Morra at the British Championships. In the all north-east clash, Wall, T - Gormally, D, the French Tarrasch-like 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 c3 d5 6 Nd2 c5 7 Ngf3 was seen and then 7...Nc6 8 Bb5 cxd4 9 Nxd4 Bd7 10 0-0:

Whether White saddles Black with an IQP or plays more actively, as Tim did, the white position looks slightly the more pleasant to handle, although Danny Gormally would later win after a strong defence and timely exchange sacrifice to unbalance proceedings.

The Trompowsky: 2...d5 3 Bxf6 gxf6 4 c4 [D00]

Our focus in recent years after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 d5 has been 3 e3 c5 4 Bxf6 gxf6, but with that pretty much played out, 3 Bxf6 gxf6 4 c4 made a high-level comeback in Dortmund. After 4...dxc4 5 e3 c5 White has usually recaptured on c4, but 6 d5!? deserves further attention:

A typically rich, unbalanced Trompowsky middlegame was reached in Duda, J - Wojtasek, R, where Black was OK prior to being outplayed by his young compatriot.

The Veresov: 3...c5 4 Bxf6 gxf6 5 e3 [D01]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 d5 3 e3 c5 4 Bxf6 gxf6 Mark Hebden elected to head for Veresov waters with 5 Nc3 in Hebden, M - Jones, G. Play continued with the fairly critical 5...Nc6 6 Qh5 cxd4 7 exd4 Nc6 8 Nf3 Bd7:

Here I prefer Hebden’s 9 Bb5 to Jeroen Bosch’s 9 Bd3, but despite White’s positive handling of the opening, Black always seemed to be fine and soon took over with his unopposed bishop-pair.

The Colle-Zukertort: 3...Nf6 4 Bd3 Bd6 5 b3 b6 6 Bb2 Bb7 [D05]

After 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 e3 e6 4 b3 b6 5 Bb2 Bb7 6 Bd3 Bd6 7 0-0 0-0 8 Nbd2 I’ve always been slightly concerned that Black might continue to copy. He preferred the more unbalancing 8...c5 in Naiditsch, A - Alsina Leal, D, whereupon 9 c4 Nc6 10 dxc5!? bxc5 11 cxd5 exd5 left Black the side with a hanging pawns for once:

White thematically prepared e3-e4 with 12 Re1! only for Black to hold his own with 12...Re8 13 e4 Nb4!, after which the board quickly caught fire in true Shirovian fashion.

The Colle: 3...c5 4 Nbd2 [D05]

Vladimir Kramnik’s favourite move order features after 1 Nf3 d5 2 e3 Nf6 3 d4 c5 the key move 4 Nbd2. Only after 4...e6 does he go 5 b3 when 5...cxd4 6 exd4 is more tempting than usual for Black:

He homed in on the weakened c3-square with 6...Bb4 7 Bb2 Ne4 in Kramnik, V - Giri, A and eventually prevailed in a long struggle after the 14th world champion pushed the boat out a bit too far.

Will the London be back next month?

Until then, Richard

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