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II’m delighted to say that we have only the one online encounter this month and that itself is far from a shabby one, coming from the final of the Chessable Masters. After witnessing that the h4 Tromp is alive and well, we’ll see that White is beginning to struggle in the Jobava-Prié before examining a number of critical lines of the London.

Download PGN of August ’21 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 h4 c5 4 d5 [A45]

Celtic Tigers star IM Klaudia Kulon twice wheeled out 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 h4!? c5 4 d5 at the famous Czech Open in Pardubice.

After 4...Qb6 5 Nd2 Nxg5 6 hxg5 Qxb2 7 g6!? White was well underway and won a brutal game in Kulon, K - Slovak, K, and 4...h6!? 5 Bf4 d6 (5...Qb6! is the critical line) 6 f3 Nf6 7 e4 was also a pleasant edge at this stage in Kulon, K - Stocek, J, although things soon went badly awry.

The Jobava-Prié Attack: 3...c5 4 e3 a6 [D00]

Sergey Karjakin was twice surprised by 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Bf4 in rapid tie-break games at the World Cup. After 3...c5 4 e3 he went in for the solid 4...e6 5 Nb5 Na6 6 c3 Be7 against Vladislav Artemiev before switching to 4...a6 5 Nf3 cxd4 6 exd4 Bg4:

I’m a little uncertain how Black would have equalised after 7 h3! followed by involving the g-pawn, whereas 7 Be2 Nc6 8 Ne5 Bxe2 9 Nxe2 e6 10 c3 Be7 seemed fine for him in Vachier-Lagrave, M - Karjakin, S, a hard-fought fight where Karjakin displayed great attacking verve in the endgame.

The Jobava-Prié Attack: 3...e6 4 e3 Bb4 [D00]

I’m surprised that most white players aren’t meeting 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Bf4 e6 with 4 Nb5, since 4 e3 Bb4 continues to look a little awkward. 5 Nge2 0-0 6 g4?! was certainly a try to mix things up in Omar, N - Yilmaz, M.

However, after 6...Nxg4! 7 Rg1 Nf6 it’s far from clear that White has anything like sufficient compensation, despite the half-open g-file.

The London: 2...d5 3 Nf3 Bf5 4 e3 e6 5 c4 [D02]

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 Bf4 Bf5 is not a new line, of course, but has tended to go in and out of fashion without ever really fully catching on for Black. A critical response is 4 e3 e6 5 c4!? Bxb1 6 Rxb1 Bb4+ 7 Ke2:

It’s been a couple of years since we last considered this. I suspect Black is fine and he was certainly well prepared en route to a comfortable hold in Abasov, N - Sargsyan, S.

The London: 2...d5 3 Nf3 c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 Bg4 [D02]

Black has a few tempting and fairly critical approaches after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 Bf4 c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nbd2, including 5...Bg4 6 c3 e6 7 Qb3 Qc8:

Now unpinned, White can consider both 8 Ne5 and 8 Nh4, as well as the calm 8 h3 Bh5 9 Be2 which led to quite an instructive manoeuvring battle in Artemiev, V - Gelfand, B.

The London: 2...d5 3 Nf3 c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 Qb6 [D02]

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 Bf4 c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 Qb6!? is an even sharper approach, not least when Black tries to make 6 dxc5 Qxb2 7 Rb1 Qc3 8 Bb5 g6!? work:

After 9 e4 Wesley So improved over his earlier 9...Bg7? with 9...dxe4 10 Be5 Qa5 which quickly became rather sharp and extremely unclear in the topsy-turvy battle that was Le Quang Liem - So, W.

Let’s hope there are plenty more examples of fighting chess to enjoy next month!

Until then, Richard

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