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If there’s one theme running throughout most of this month’s update, it’s of going directly after the enemy king, be that after one of our more aggressive lines or a steady start then a brutal middlegame attack; one might even describe Firouzja’s mating attack against Gukesh as being played in the endgame. That was, of course, the only game which the world championship challenger lost in Toronto, but will he or Ding be delving into our favourite world of d-pawn specials ahead of their big match towards the end of the year?

Download PGN of May ’24 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 h4 d5 4 Nd2 Nxg5 5 hxg5 [A45]

While we’ll end in Toronto, we start off this month online and another look at 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 h4!?, which Belgian no.1 Daniel Dardha continues to enjoy wheeling out. After 3...d5 4 Nd2 the solid main line is, of course, 4...Bf5, but Black can also be more uncompromising with 4...Nxg5 5 hxg5:

This tabiya is quite rich and one a 3 h4 Trompowskyte should enjoy debating, although ambitious black players may also be happy enough. After 5...c5 6 dxc5 e5?! 7 e4 White was already doing well in Dardha, D - Margvelashvili, G.

Another important line is 5...e5!? when 6 dxe5 is probably best, although 6 g6!? may well discombobulate some opponent:

Can you spot Black’s two best moves here? Yes, it turns out that 6...exd4!? is playable, and if 7 Rxh7 Rxh7 8 gxh7 Qh4, while 6...fxg6 7 dxe5 Nc6 8 Ngf3?! (the less natural 8 Ndf3 improves) 8...g5!? left White on the back foot in the great scrap that was Abdurakhmonov, M - Nigmatov, O.

The Trompowsky: 2...c5 3 Bxf6 gxf6 4 d5 Qb6 5 Qc1 f5 [A45]

A few games after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 c5 have also caught my eye of late, taking in the lines 3 d5 d6, 3 dxc5 e6 4 Nc3 Bxc5 5 e4!?, and the old main line, 3 Bxf6 gxf6 4 d5 Qb6 5 Qc1 f5 6 g3 when 6...d6 7 Bg2 Nd7!? was a very interesting approach in Xu Xiangyu - Siddharth, J.

The game itself is short, but also fascinating and raises plenty of questions. The main answer appears to be that the concept of holding back on ...Bg7 is fully viable for Black.

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

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 we’ve devoted plenty of coverage over the years to both 5 Nc3 and 5 c3, but had never covered until now 5 e5 Qd8 6 Qg4!?, another favourite blitz weapon of Daniel Dardha’s:

This aggressive line certainly contains practical sting and surprise value, but one problem is 6...Qg5, while after 6...c5 7 dxc5?! White would have been worse in Dardha, D - Marchesich, G, had Black found 7...Qg5!.

The Jobava-Prié Attack: 3...e6 4 e3 a6 [D00]

The popular streamer Anna-Maja Kazarian recently made her first WGM norm, but unfortunately found 2600 opposition too much to handle in Kazarian, AM - Pranav, V, although at least she took the fight to Black with 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Bf4 a6 4 e3 e6 5 h4!? (we’ll also examine developments after the immediate 5 g4) 5...b5 6 g4!:

Here 6...b4! 7 Na4 was all fairly logical and critical, but after 7...Bd7 White needed not to leap into c5, but rather go 8 c4! to maintain a rich position.

The London System: 2...Nf6 3 e3 c5 4 c3 Nc6 5 Nd2 Bf5 [D00]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 d5 3 e3 c5 4 c3 Nc6 5 Nd2 Bf5 6 Qb3 Qc8 Gata Kamsky has had a lot of games in recent Titled Tuesdays with 7 a4!?:

Anything played so much by Mr London deserves our attention and 7...c4!? 8 Qa2!? may well take Black into unknown territory, albeit a position which should simply offer the classic chances for both sides, as we’ll see in Kamsky, G - Fiorito, J.

The London System: 2...Nf6 3 Nf3 e6 4 e3 c5 5 Nbd2 Qb6 [D02]

Saving the best or at least the highest-level game until last, we find ourselves examining 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 d5 3 e3 c5 4 Nf3 e6 5 Nbd2 Qb6 6 Rb1 cxd4 7 exd4 Bd7 8 c3 Bb5 in Firouzja, A - Gukesh, D, no less.

Black borrows an idea from the French Defence to exchange off his bad bishop and 9 h4!? also felt quite French-like, after which Firouzja took several risks and eventually seized his chance deep in a big time scramble.

Will we have more top-flight gripping drama to enjoy next month? Let’s hope so!

Until then, Richard

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