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Some lively games and something of a Tromp fest this month as we’ll see that the 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 continues to pack something of a punch, with even Fabiano Caruana drifting into early trouble against it, albeit after eschewing the solid modern main line that is 2...d5. We also have action in the Torre and Colle to enjoy, courtesy of Alexander Grischuk and Leinier Dominguez Perez no less.

Download PGN of February ’23 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 h4 c5 4 dxc5 [A45]

I’ve made little secret of the fact that after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 h4 c5 I very much believe 4 d5 to be the critical move, but Daniel Dardha has flown the flag for 4 dxc5 of late. Caruana opted for Black’s standard reaction in 4...Qa5+, but a number of other moves are also possible, including the fairly critical 4...h6 5 Bf4:

I’m still not totally sure what White should do here after 5...d5!, offering a pawn for the initiative, in contrast to which 5...e6 6 Nd2 saw White beginning to take control ahead of launching a strong attack in Dardha, D - Salem, S.

The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 d5 4 e3 Bf5 [A45]

Countering 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4 with 3...d5 4 e3 Bf5 has long had a pretty solid reputation. Here 5 f3 remains White’s main move, but there’s also 5 h4!?, as well as 5 Bd3. Then after 5...Bg6 White should definitely go 6 h4! if you ask me, rather than 6 Nd2 Nxd2 7 Qxd2 e6 8 Nf3:

White does have a small lead in development here, but Black is rock solid and can cover e5 with 8...Nd7, which seemed fine for him in Shevchenko, K - Darini, P.

The Trompowsky: 2...e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 c3 d6 [A45]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 e6 a fairly popular option for White remains 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 c3 when play often runs 5...d6 6 Bd3 g6 7 Ne2 Bg7 8 0-0 Qe7 9 f4:

10 years ago we saw Alex Fier in action after 9....e5 10 f5!? and he is still scoring quite well with this line, being in Fier, A - Podetti, D, happy to see space after the radical 9...f5?! with 10 e5.

The Trompowsky: 2...e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 Nc3 [A45]

We also have developments to consider after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 e6 in both 3 Nc3 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 Qd3!?, as was seen in a recent Bundesliga weekend, and 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 Nc3.

For a long time the main line here was considered to be 5...Bb4, but the radical 5...d5!? is also possible. This position is new to this section, if not the website as John Watson has previously covered it via the French move order 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 h6!? 5 Bxf6 Qxf6. As it also seems pretty important for the Trompowsky player, I’ve taken a look too. Here I’d be tempted to keep Black a little restricted with 6 a3!?, but White preferred to take up the challenge with 6 exd5 Bb4 7 dxe6 Bxe6 8 Nf3 in Xu Xiangyu-Nepomniachtchi, I.

The Trompowsky: 2...e6 3 Nd2 h6 4 Bh4 d5 5 e3 c5 6 c3 [A45]

With 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 e6 3 Nd2 h6 4 Bh4 White may well be itching to gambit with 4...c5 5 e4!?, so 4...d5 5 e3 c5 6 c3 Nbd7 is fairly sensible for Black. Here White doesn’t have to go straight into Torre waters with 7 Ngf3, but can consider 7 Bd3!?:

As we’ve noted before, 7...e5 must be critical here, whereas 7...Bd6 8 f4! b6?! 9 Ngf3 unfortunately saw one of my colleagues drifting into early trouble in Van Foreest, L - Fitzsimons, D, where White would attack in style.

The Torre Attack: 3...d5 4 e3 c5 5 c3 Nc6 6 Bd3 Be7 7 Nbd2 [D03]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bg5 d5 4 Nbd2 c5 5 e3 Nc6 6 c3 Be7 7 Bd3 h6 White is at a crossroads.

It’s not impossible that exchanging on f6 may be best, although a decent case can very much be made too for 8 Bf4!?, as played by Mark Hebden and now Alexander Grischuk, as we’ll see in Grischuk, A - Azarov, S.

The Colle: 3...Bf5 4 Nbd2 [D04]

One of the more solid and annoying lines to face after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 e3 is 3...Bf5. I wondered about 4 Nh4!? in The Killer Colle-Zukertort System and on top of 4 c4, White also has 4 Nbd2 e6 5 b3 c5 6 Bb2 Nc6 7 Be2:

This can’t promise an objective advantage, but by being happy to recapture with a piece on d4 White was soon able to generate some early pressure in Dominguez Perez, L - Deac, DB.

I dare say the London will make a return next month!

Until then, Richard

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