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Freed from commitments at the London Classic, which I hope everyone enjoyed once again, I've been able to turn my attention back to some of our favourite openings. The Trompowsky may be known as a good choice to unbalance the position early on, but this month the London and the Torre also contribute to what turned into something of a bloodthirsty update.

Download PGN of December '13 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky 2...e6 3 Nd2, 5 e4!? [A45]

A tricky move order employed by those with some Torre experience is 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 e6 3 Nd2. Now Black should probably advance his c-pawn without delay, thereby avoiding the nuisance which is 3...h6 4 Bh4 c5 5 e4!?:

This may not be favourable for White, but carries a fair amount of sting and surprise, as we'll see in Rombaldoni - Caprio.

Tromp 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 d5 [A45]

I'm always impressed when authors practice what they preach, so it was great to see Richard Pert employing the Trompowsky in Pert - Guthrie, where the solid and fairly topical defence 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 d5 4 e3 c5 5 Bd3 Nf6 was seen. After 6 c3 Nc6 7 Nd2 White is a tempo up on a London, but Black hasn't played ...e6. Thus 7...Bg4 (as recently employed by Mark Hebden against me, 7...g6!? may be a better try) 8 Ngf3 e6 is possible:

This feels very natural and straightforward for the second player, but as Pert shows it's not so clear that Black is fully equal.

These days White usually goes 4 e3 rather than 4 f3, but that and then 4...Nf6 5 Nc3 isn't so bad and should still appeal to those who like to go their own way early in the game as we'll see in Kokarev - Dvoirys.

Tromp 2...d5 3 Bxf6 exf6 [D00]

British players will be aware just how finely tuned Mark Hebden's black repertoire is and 2...d5 has been his recent preference against the Trompowsky. Here 3 Bxf6 exf6 4 e3 Bd6 5 g3 c6 6 Bg2 0-0 (6...f5 may be a more accurate move order) 7 Nd2 f5 8 Ne2 Nd7 9 c4 dxc4 10 Nxc4 Bb4+ 11 Nc3 Nf6 12 0-0 Be6 brings about a position I've never been too keen on for White:

Indeed, I much prefer the lines where White prefaces c2-c4 with b2-b3. That said, there's nothing, of course, wrong with this heavyweight manoeuvring position for the first player and it requires a typically direct attack from Hebden to cause White to panic and collapse in Bird - Hebden.

The Neo-London System 3 Nc3 [D00]

After 1 d4 d5 2 Bf4 we don't just have another Kamsky effort (unfortunately one featuring an uncharacteristic oversight) to consider this month, but also 2...Nf6 3 Nc3!?:

I can't believe this is an improved version of the Veresov, but Jonny Hector has experimented with it of late and it turned out fine in Jobava - Malakhov before White became rather carried away.

The London System Anti-Nimzo [A47]

A more conventional London position arises after 1...Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bf4 b6 4 e3 Bb7 5 Bd3:

Don't forget that if now 5...Be7, White should spot the standard ...Nh5 idea and go 6 h3. Instead, 5...c5 6 c3 d6 may not look so threatening, but soon led to early mayhem after an unnecessary retreat from White in Okhotnik - Golichenko.

The Torre Attack 3...h6 4 Bh4 [A46]

Vladimir Kramnik and Russia may have suffered early on in the World Team Championship, but they both bounced back in some style from a certain massacre at the hands of the USA. Indeed, 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bg5 h6 4 Bh4 d6 5 e3 g5 6 Bg3 Nh5 led to one of the games of the tournament:

Here I like to force the issue with 7 Nfd2 when the knight may well regroup via c4 to e3, whereas 7 Bd3 Bg7 8 Nbd2 Qe7 9 c3 Nd7 led to something of a positional masterpiece in Ipatov - Kramnik.

Let's hope we don't all have too much work to do over the festive week. Have a good one, Richard

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