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At last a real 'update' only containing recent high level games (at least on one side of the board...), updating material we have already covered rather well!

Download PGN of February '09 d-Pawn Specials games

London [D00]

Indeed, everything has already been previously said and written in this section about the annoying black move order 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.e3 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nd2 Bf5!:

After 6.Qb3 Qd7! the move 7.dxc5 is new... but only as regards occurring in a proper game ... not for ChessPublishing subscribers! Game One followed my analysis 7...e5 8.Bg3 Bxc5 9.Nf3 Qe7 10.Bb5 Bd6 11.Bh4 a6! 12.Be2 Be6 ("With equality" as I had stated...) when along came the 'Novelty' 13.Ng5.

9...Bd6 10.Bb5 Qc7! looks even stronger from the black point of view. Undeniably the queen is more exposed to the 'liberating advance' c3-c4 here, and does not defend the e6 and f6 squares, however, considering she moved there from e7 for the better in the previous game... Following 11.Bh4 a6 12.Be2 the move 12...Na5! is the main point of having the queen on c7 instead of e7: It authorizes this deflection by guarding the knight against 13.Qa4+, which is now answered by 13...b5! Similarly, Black could have rapidly gained the upper hand in Game Two after 11.c4 0-0 12.Rc1 Na5!:

Instead of the mistake 12...e4??

Next, let's see if there is anything new with the other idea 7.Ngf3 c4 8.Qd1 e6! since I looked at it last year (saying: "First of all prevent 9.b3?" A thing White actually ignored in Game Three!!). In Game Four White tried 9.Nh4 ("You just cannot have everything") instead, and although Black rapidly seized the initiative after the erroneous 9...Bd6 10.Nxf5 exf5 11.Bxd6 Qxd6 12.b3 b5 13.a4 b4! 14.cxb4? (I had mentioned 14.Rc1, to blockade the essential c3 square...) 14...c3, I really cannot recommend this plan of giving up of the bishop on f5. Evidently 9...Be4 is critical; something we still have to long for...

I had not seriously considered using White's king's knight for any other purpose than seizing the strong opposing London bishop. Nevertheless, jumping to e5 actually contains a drop of poison, depending on what Black does after 9.Be2:

Then the 2630 average ELO Game 5 saw 9...Be7?, and the most recent 2490 average ELO Game 6 saw 9...a6?!

A heartbreak... After more than one year I was hoping White could have found something in this fashionable line by now to avoid the drawish ending resulting from 6.Nf3 Qb6! 7.Qb3 c4 8.Qxb6 axb6 9.a3 and so on, (which is actually similar, with reversed colours, to the theme I focused on last month.) And what do I come upon? Only mistakes and inaccuracies from both sides, beginning with the black ones. ChessPublishing may not be 'light-years' ahead of the rest on London 1.d4 d5 theory, but it is certainly still a long way in advance.

Actually, that London bishop is too strong, Black should strive to exchange it by ...Bd6! Hence first 9...b5! is my preferred reply, when I had previously recommended 9...h6!? as my "second step: preserve the bishop". But why waste such an important tempo if it turns out that the manoeuvre Nf3-e5 is more dangerous than Nf3-h4?!

The reason why White has consistently pinned his hopes on 6.Qb3 (even as bad as it has appeared after 6...Qd7!) instead of 6.Ngf3 is the fear of 6...Qb6! as aforementioned. This is the critical line of the whole (Neo) London 1.d4 d5, where, hopefully, there ought to be things to improve on Zaitseva-Demina... Indeed, after 6...e6 instead, White can now go for 7.Qb3! Qb6 8.Qxb6 axb6 9.Bb5:

Intending Ne5, with a pull in the ending that proved effective in Game 7.

It means that if Black cannot exchange queens with a light heart (in spite of the subsequent opening of the a-file for his rook) he must resort to 7...Qc8 (and not 7...Qd7? this time because of 8.Bb5), but it was this same move that White dubiously played in Game 8, anyway, and which was immediately questioned by 8...a6!? The inclusion of 8...c4 9.Qa4 a6 10.Bxc6 Qxc6 11.Qxc6 bxc6 possibly being even more promising for Black.

In order to provide this update with unity, it has to be remarked that, on the other hand, 6.Qb3 Qc8?! is only a curiosity at this stage. Not because of the fanciful 6.Nf3, which you can find in J-K, and which is refuted by 6...c4! of course, but 7.dxc5! as in Game 9, with the idea 7...e5 8.Bg5 titillating Black's d-pawn, that is no longer protected by his queen.

See you soon, Eric