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With Eric still busy moving house, I'm afraid subscribers will have to put up with another London-free update. Again I've concentrated mainly on those d-pawn specials which I employ myself while trying to supply some attractive games.

Download PGN of February '12 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky 2...e6 [A45]

A solid defence to 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 is 2...e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6, which is especially popular with Nimzo-Indian players. I've never been a huge fan of 5 Nf3 (which is [A46] as it can arise from a Torre), if only because it obstructs the f-pawn, but after 5...d5 (5...d6 6 Nc3 Nd7! is a better approach) 6 e5 Qd8 7 Bd3 c5 8 c3 Nc6 9 Qd2 White enjoys a reasonable version of the Advance French:

White is missing his dark-squared bishop, but can still fight for the advantage, either by securing d4 or going 9...Nc6 10 dxc5! Bxc5 11 0-0, hoping to post a knight on that square, as he does in Zherebukh - Alsina Leal.

I've usually preferred 5 Nc3 myself. We gave some coverage to 5...d6 last month, but a very important alternative is, of course, the Nimzo-like 5...Bb4. Here 6 Qd3!? has long rather appealed to me, rather than 6 Qd2 c5 7 e5:

This is just a little too committal I fear, with Black well placed whether he goes forward with 7...Qf5!? or back with the 7...Qd8 of Bellon Lopez-Yusupov.

Completing our mini-survey, we must also examine 5 c3 and after the popular sequence 5...d6 6 Bd3 Nd7 7 Ne2 g6 8 0-0 Bg7 9 f4 0-0 10 Nd2 White has definite chances for the advantage:

It's too late for 10...e5 (this advance should have been played back on the 6th move), and neither is 10...Qe7 11 e5! exactly ideal for Black, as we'll see in one of the games from that two-game experiment in San Sebastian, Laznicka - Moiseenko.

The Torre Attack ...g6 [A48]

One of many games which caught the eye at Gibraltar was Yusupov - Shirov, which started solidly enough with 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 0-0 5 c3 d5 6 e3 Nbd7 7 Bd3 Re8 8 0-0 e5:

White has nothing if he swaps on e5 here, but of late the much more potent 9 e4! has become fashionable and 9...exd4 10 cxd4 dxe4 11 Nxe4 h6 12 Qb3! certainly gave Yusupov chances for the advantage.

Torre Attack ...d5 [D03]

Another type of Torre sees 2...e6 3 Bg5 d5 4 e3 c5 5 c3 Bd6 6 Nbd2 Nbd7 7 Bd3 h6 8 Bh4 0-0 9 0-0:

Here Black must avoid the tempting but misguided 9...e5?!, but neither is 9...b6 a total panacea, in view of the energetic 10 e4! cxd4 11 cxd4 dxe4 12 Bxe4 which generated some pressure in an IQP structure in Andreikin - Kovchan.

The Colle-Zukertort [D05]

Quite a common position at all levels in the Colle-Zukertort arises after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 e3 d5 4 Bd3 c5 5 b3 Nbd7 6 Bb2 Bd6 7 0-0 b6 8 Nbd2 Bb7 9 Ne5 0-0 10 f4:

I've always quite enjoyed playing White here, though, and it's hard not to feel that Black is just developing, trying to make sensible moves without too much idea what plan he should now pursue. Usually he tries to block things up with ...Ne4 either here or after an exchange on d4, but what could be wrong with 10...Qc7? This move is quite common even amongst strong club players, but falls for a typical Colle-Zukertort trap involving a classic Greek Gift sacrifice - see Cornhill - Barber.

Black prefers to disrupt matters without delay with 5...Qa5+ in Gohil - Graf. The idea is that White's dark-squared bishop is misplaced after 6 Bd2, but perhaps matters aren't so clear here. White develops rapidly and thematically undermines Black's hanging pawns with e3-e4 before the Grandmaster rather loses the plot.

That's all for this month. Let's hope Eric and the London will return in March! Richard

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