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Happy New Year!
Some important lines come under our microscope this month. We’ll also see a strategic masterpiece from IM Simon Ansell, as well as wild blitz game between rising star Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Wesley So.

Download PGN of December ’18 d-Pawn Specials games

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

A pretty important line is still 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 6 d5 when 6...e6 remains quite topical. After 7 e4 exd5 8 exd5 d6 9 Qd2 Be7 10 c4 Qxd2+ 11 Kxd2 we reach a cross-roads:

Black can fight back on the kingside with 11...Nh5 12 Be3 f5, but the latest evidence suggests that 11...b5! equalises, as we’ll see in Kryakvin, D - Iljiushenok, I.

The Trompowsky: 2...d5 3 Bxf6 exf6 4 e3 g6 [D00]

Demidov, M - Demchenko, A actually begins 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 g6 3 Bxf6 exf6 4 e3 when 4...d5 is Black’s most solid and best move:

White has plenty of options here, as we’ll see, but even after the sensible 5 g3 is not guaranteed to emerge with an edge.

The Trompowsky: 2...d5 3 e3 c5 4 Bxf6 gxf6 [D00]

A key battleground for the Trompowsky remains 2... d5 3 e3 c5 4 Bxf6 gxf6. In one high-level recent blitz game Luke McShane got the upper hand with 5 dxc5, but 5...Nc6 6 Nf3 e5 should be fine for Black. Probably 5 c4!? cxd4 6 exd4 Nc6 7 Nc3 isn’t completely sound, but it still seems a good try in a speed game and/or against an unprepared opponent:

Black now lashed out with 7...e5 in Duda, J-K - So, W, and a great scrap ensued.

The Torre Attack: 2...e6 and 3...c5 [A46]

A trio of games after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bg5 caught my eye of late, as we’ll see. Our main focus is on 3...c5 4 c3 Be7 5 e3 b6 6 Nbd2, which is a fairly popular position:

After 6...cxd4 Torre players traditionally recaptured with 7 exd4, but Gata Kamsky has preferred 7 cxd4 in related positions and that more solid recapture received a whirl in Turner, M - Haria, R, another game played as part of the feast of chess which was the London Chess Classic.

The Neo-London v Slav setup [D00]

1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 d5 3 e3 c6 is rather Slav-like, but after 4 c4! White has decent chances of obtaining an improved slow Slav thanks to his dark-squared bishop being outside the pawn chain. Another important point is 4...Bf5 5 Nc3 e6 6 Qb3 Qb6?! 7 c5! Qxb3 8 axb3:

This is already strategically highly desirable for White who has the simple plan of b3-b4-b5 followed by b2-b4-b5. Black should aim to distract him on the other wing, but White still produced a model display in Ansell, S - Hackner, O.

The Neo-London: 2...Nf6 3 e3 e6 4 Nd2 Bd6 [D02]

After 1 d4 d5 2 Bf4 Nf6 3 e3 e6 4 Nd2 Bd6 White usually retreats to g3, but doesn’t have to and 5 c3!? 0-0 6 Ngf3 b6 7 Bd3 Bxf4 8 exf4 Ba6! was seen in Winants, L - Khenkin, I:

With all the bishops gone, White will struggle to exploit his grip on e5 and in the game we’ll once again see a black knight on f5 helping to stymie White’s attacking tries.

The Neo-London System: 2...d5 3 e3 c5 4 dxc5 [D00]

One might consider 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 d5 3 e3 c5 to be quite ambitious from Black. White does usually go 4 c3, but there is a pawn en prise and 4 dxc5!? Nc6 5 Bb5 e6 6 b4 a5 7 c3 Bd7 8 Qb3 has seen something of a resurgence of interest of late:

In this reversed Abrahams-Noteboom-type tabiya Black has several moves, with 8...Nh5 one option and another the 8...axb4 9 cxb4 Ne4 10 Ne2 Qf6 of D’Costa, L - Elsness, F.

Do hope you all have a fine New Year.

Until next month, Richard

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