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Eric's busy moving house at the moment, so I've taken a look at some recent high-level games in the various d-Pawn Specials, including a few from Wijk aan Zee. As something of a break from the ever-popular London System in this column, I've mainly focussed my attention on the Trompowsky and a couple of lines with an early g3.

Download PGN of January '12 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky 2...c5 [A45]

One of the most unbalanced, fascinating and critical of all lines after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 is 2...c5 3 Bxf6 gxf6 4 d5 Qb6 5 Qc1 f5. Here I quite like the idea of setting up with 6 c4!? and Nc3, but the solid set-up 6 g3 Bg7 7 c3 remains more popular:

Here 7...d6 has been Black's most popular move, while Eric considers 7...e6!? to be pretty critical, but in Van Wely-Giri Black came up with 7...Qf6, which may well have been over-the-board inspiration. It turns out that the queen isn't so well placed on the kingside and Van Wely soon enjoyed a comfortable edge. He patiently converted that right up to a surely winning endgame only to blunder and be swindled right at the death.

7...Qf6 might not be too impressive, but the ambitious 7...Na6 8 Bg2 Nc7 9 Nd2 Qa6!? is not so easy to dismiss. White soon joined in the creative spirit in Popov - Milliet, but required Black to allow a standard exchange sacrifice and to make further errors before he could claim a definite advantage.

Tromp 2...e6 [A45]

Ever since John Cox's Dealing with d4 Deviations appeared at the end of 2005, the solid line 2...e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 Nc3 d6 6 Qd2 c6 7 f4 e5 8 dxe5 dxe5 9 f5 has been seen quite often:

Cox advocated 9...Bb4 here, but 9...Nd7 10 Nf3 Bb4 usually transposes. Practice has shown that White should not castle long and 11 a3 Ba5 12 b4!? Bb6 13 Na4! is a stronger plan and one which I believe gives White an edge, as we'll see in Palliser - Griffiths.

The Romanishin System [A46]

Which one you might well wonder, but the one which falls into the d-pawn sphere is 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 g3 b5. After 4 Bg2 Black's most solid choice is 4...d5, but perhaps theory has slightly underestimated 5 a4!? b4 6 c4 bxc3 7 bxc3 here:

I suspect that 7...Ba6 may ask too much of Black's position at this point, since after 8 0-0 Be7 the logical novelty 9 Ne5! gave White an early initiative and advantage in Gormally - Ward, where my fellow columnist was soon defending in a much more passive manner than he would have liked.

The Fianchetto Pirc Hybrid [A49]

Perhaps because it doesn't have an obvious name, the line 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 g3 Bg7 4 Bg2 0-0 5 0-0 d6 hasn't been considered before on ChessPub. Yes, there's been plenty of coverage of 6 c4, but White doesn't have to take play into a line of the Fianchetto King's Indian and a somewhat more crafty choice is 6 a4!?:

This seizes some useful space while keeping White's options opens in the centre. A type of Fianchetto Pirc usually arises, such as after 6...c6 7 a5 Nbd7 8 Nc3 Qc7 9 e4 e5, as we'll discuss in Turov - Ootes.

The Barry Attack [D00]

Mark Hebden continues to fly the flag for the so-called Hebden-Prié (or Tarzan to use Artur Kogan's analogy) Attack, where White follows up 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Bf4 Bg7 not with 5 e3, the normal Barry, but rather 5 Qd2!?. A solid but also quite critical defence is 5...Ne4 6 Nxe4 dxe4 7 Ne5 Be6 8 e3 Nd7 9 Nxd7 Qxd7, reaching something of a tabiya:

Hebden initially seized space here with 10 c4, but that allows Black decent counterchances, so his latest try in Hebden - MacQueen was 10 Be2 0-0 11 c3!?, keeping everything under control in the centre, preparing to target e4 with Qc2, and refusing to commit his king just yet.

The Veresov 3...c5 [D01]

A couple of lines after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Bg5 come under the microscope in Hector - Brunello. We'll see that in the main line with 3...Nbd7 the sharp sideline 4 e3 e6 5 Qf3!? continues to look quite nice for Black after 5...Bb4!, while our main game features 3...c5 4 Bxf6 gxf6 5 e3 Nc6 6 Qh5 cxd4 7 exd4 e6:

Here both theory and practice have suggested that White should go in for 8 Nf3 Bd7 9 Bd3, but whether this promises him any advantage is a moot point.

That's all from me. Eric should be back later in the month! Richard

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