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There’s plenty of chess to look forward to over Christmas week with the World Rapid and Blitz beginning on the 26th. I dare say we’ll see more than the occasional London there and unsurprisingly the opening is also back under our microscope this month.

Download PGN of December ’17 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 d5 4 f3 [A45]

After 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4 d5 4 f3 Black normally retreats to f6, but 4...Nd6!? 5 Nc3 e6 6 e4 c6 has been tried twice of late by Mamedyarov:

Black is a little cramped, but also solid and actually fairly flexible - he might yet launch his queenside pawns at the white king. As such, White went short in Andreikin, D - Mamedyarov, S, and eventually prevailed, but this whole idea awaits more testing.

The Trompowsky 2...c5 3 d5 Ne4 4 Bc1 [A45]

I always used to assume that 2 Bg5 c5 3 d5 Ne4 was no different from 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 d5, but in the former case White doesn’t have to go 4 Bf4. Indeed, 4 Bc1 isn’t such a terrible way of avoiding theory and was seen in David, A - Valsecchi, A:

That said, it can hardly be too threatening for Black after 4...e6, while the Czech Benoni-like 4...e5 also turned out well enough in the game.

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

Meeting 2...e6 with 3 Nd2 has seen a few tests of late. After 3...h6 4 Bh4 d5 5 e3 c5 6 c3 Nbd7 one would expect a transposition to Torre waters to be extremely imminent, but 7 Bd3 (7 Ngf3 would but transpose) 7...e5!? was the course of Vitiugov, N - Svidler, P:

This seems like a decent equaliser from what I can see, with Black gradually getting the upper hand in the sort of IQP middlegame normally associated with the French Tarrasch.

The Torre v KID 2...g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 d5 [A48]

Black’s main move after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 remains 4....0-0 when we’ll see a fairly high-level recent test in the notes this month. Less flexible, but extremely solid is 4...d5 5 e3 0-0 6 c3 b6 7 Bd3 c5:

At this juncture there’s absolutely nothing wrong with 8 0-0, while 8 Qe2 Bb7 9 h4!? has drastically fallen out of fashion, and quite possibly for no good reason. More positional and thematic is 8 b4, as in Short, N - Merry, A, in which surprisingly the British legend was to be outplayed before eventually being slightly lucky.

Neo-London v KID, Jobava-Prié/Barry Attack, 2...g6 3 Nc3 d5 [A45]

After 2 Bf4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 e3 Bg7 are we in a London, a Jobava-Prié or a Barry? I’m not totally sure, but 5 h4!? has been quite topical of late:

Here 5...h5 6 Nf3 is definitely a Barry, although this position has almost never arisen from its standard move order of 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Bf4. Take note of 6...Bg4 7 Qd2! Bxf3 8 gxf3:

David Navara is always very well prepared and deployed this of late. White’s structure might be shattered, but his dynamic potential and the two bishops appear to more than compensate, as we’ll see in Navara, D - Bobras, P.

We examine Black’s alternatives to countering with an h-pawn block in Girya, O - Bodnaruk, A. Ruck’s 5...c6 6 Bd3 Bf5!? certainly deserves attention, while the game sees the bold 5...0-0 6 h5:

Now 6...c5 is absolutely imperative, since 6...Nxh5? 7 Rxh5 gxh5 8 Qxh5 merely left Black on the wrong side of a near miniature.

The London, Anti-Nimzo 6...Bd6 7 Bg3 0-0 8 Bb5 [D02]

Via a 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 d5 3 e3 e6 4 Nd2 Bd6 5 Bg3 0-0 6 Ngf3 c5 7 c3 Nc6 move order something of a tabiya arose in Naiditsch, A - Svidler, P:

8 Bb5 remains both trendy and quite critical. We round up a few developments this month, but none as critical as Svidler’s 8...Be7!?. Black simply retreats, arguing that he need not fear an exchange on c6 when he retains the bishop-pair, while preparing to meet 9 Bd3 with 9...Nh5. It’s still early days for the idea, but for now it looks pretty viable.

I’ll be back shortly with more important trends and developments in our favourite openings. Enjoy any Christmas celebrations and a have a good New Year!

Until next time, Richard

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