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Greetings from the London Chess Classic, an event which is yet to really catch fire, in contrast to this quite bloodthirsty update. As I write, Caruana has just scored definite brownie points by essaying the Trompowsky against Giri, an encounter we'll surely have to analyse in a few weeks' time. For now, do just enjoy a number of model handlings of our favourite lines, not least Kamsky's totally meister-gegen-amateur affair.

Download PGN of December '15 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky 2...c5 3 Bxf6 gxf6 4 d5 [A45]

White scores well this month, but not I'm afraid in Carlsen - Ivanchuk, where the world champion essayed 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 c5 3 Bxf6 gxf6 4 d5 Qb6 5 Qc1 f5 6 c4, allowing Black to provoke critical complications. Ivanchuk didn't, preferring to develop sensibly enough with 6...d6 7 Nc3 Nd7:

Here I believe White should direct some force towards the e4-square with 8 e3 Nf6 9 Qc2!, since 8 g3 Bg7 9 Nf3 Nf6 10 Nd2 Ne4! was already pretty comfortable for the second player in this encounter from the World Blitz Championship.

The Trompowsky 2...c5 3 d5 Qb6 4 Nc3 Vaganian Gambit [A45]

An even more ambitious option for White is 3 d5 Qb6 4 Nc3, the famous Vaganian Gambit. Here Black should really take the bull by the horns, but at club level he quite often runs scared of b2, preferring 4..d6 5 e4 g6:

The resulting Schmid Benoni position should be a little better for White, as we'll see in Robson - Boros.

The London System 3...b6 [A47]

It wasn't just the Colle which Vladimir Kramnik was wheeling out in Berlin, but also the London and especially 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bf4 b6 4 e3 Bb7 5 Nbd2 Be7 6 h3 0-0 7 Bd3 c5 8 0-0 cxd4 9 exd4 d6 (Leko later preferred to lose a tempo with 9...Ba6!?, equalising against Kramnik himself, as we'll see in the notes) 10 c3 Nbd7:

I must admit that I've never been too keen on this type of Hedgehog position for White, who often attacks on the kingside and rarely with huge success. Kramnik, however, preferred the sensible 11 Re1 a6 12 a4 Re8 13 Bh2 Nf8 14 Nc4 and soon built up a pleasant advantage in Kramnik - Duda.

London System v King's Indian [A48]

There have also been plenty of recent high-level encounters in another type of London, 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bf4 Bg7, with Carlsen, Kamsky and Nakamura to the fore. Gata Kamsky likes the move order 4 c3 0-0 5 h3 d6 6 e3, largely I suspect because he's hoping for 6...c5 7 dxc5 dxc5 8 Qxd8 Rxd8 9 Nbd2 Nc6:

It's hard to believe Black should have too many problems here (if, indeed, any), but just look at how smoothly and quickly White wins in Kamsky - Arun Prasad.

Neo-London System 2 Bf4 d5 3 e3 c5 4 c3 Nc6 5 Nd2 [D00]

Yet another different and important version of the London occurs with 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 d5 3 e3 c5 4 c3 Nc6 5 Nd2 cxd4 6 exd4 Bf5 7 Qb3 Qc8 8 Ngf3 e6:

As we've noted before, the critical test of Black's solid set-up is 9 Nh4 and Carlsen will have happier memories of theory's latest word here, Carlsen - Wojtaszek.

The London System - Anti-Nimzo 8 Bd3 b6 9 e4 [D02]

Our final London encounter sees another decent defensive try by Black, namely 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Bf4 e6 4 e3 Bd6 5 Bg3 c5 6 Nbd2 Nc6 7 c3 0-0 8 Bd3 b6:

This does allow 9 e4, but after 9...Be7 10 e5 Nh5 Black seems to be holding his own. 11 a3!? was yet another Kramnik idea from Berlin, but after 11...a5 12 Qe2 Ra7! the forthcoming complications were OK for Black in the entertaining encounter Grischuk - Nakamura.

The Veresov Attack 3...c5 4 e3 [D01]

We finish with something a little more offbeat, namely 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Bg5 c5 4 e3 e6 5 Nf3 Nc6 6 a3!? Be7 7 dxc5 Bxc5 8 Bd3 0-0 9 0-0:

This position might well look more familiar with White's bishop on f4 rather than g5, but in either case he is aiming to avoid too much theory and to outmanoeuvre Black. White does just that and rather impressively in Rapport - Radjabov.

Enjoy any festive holidays you may have coming up!

Until next time, Richard

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