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Thanks to the efforts of players like Grischuk, Jobava, Nakamura and Van Wely, our favourite d-Pawn Specials are suddenly quite trendy at the highest levels of the game. It wasn't such a surprise to see plenty of solid Londons and Torres being wheeled out in the blitz event at the SportAccord games in Beijing just before Christmas, but this month we feature plenty of less solid chess, and from tournaments such as the London Classic and Wijk aan Zee.

Download PGN of January '14 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 d5 [A45]

We begin with the main line, 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4. Here Giri initially opted for the trendy 3...c5 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 6 d5 e6!?, but ran into some useful preparation from Grischuk, as we'll see. Meanwhile in our main game, Nakamura - Polgar, 3...d5 4 e3 c5 5 Bd3 Nc6?! was attempted:

Judit Polgar didn't appear too well booked up in London, which perhaps isn't a surprise considering her busy life, but this line has long been known to be good for White due to 6 Bxe4 dxe4 7 d5. Nakamura, however, didn't know the refutation and in the end was even fortunate to draw after many adventures.

Tromp 2...e6 3 e4 h6 [A45]

We move on to developments from Wijk in Van Wely-Giri, where Black appeared much more ready for the Tromp than he was when the two players clashed two years earlier in the same event. After 2...e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 c3 d6 6 Bd3 e5 7 Ne2 I had thought that White was beginning to win the theoretical duel, but 7...Qd8!? 8 0-0 Be7 could be an important concept:

By avoiding a kingside fianchetto, Black takes much of the sting out of f4-f5. He appears to obtain a reasonable enough Philidor-type position, although Giri soon lost his way and was lucky to survive.

The Colle 2...c5 3 e3 g6 [A48]

I've elected to round up various tricky Colle sidelines this month, beginning with 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 c5 3 e3 (3 d5!) 3...g6:

Here White really has to try 4 dxc5 if he wants to obtain anything, not that the resulting Hedgehog positions should hold too much fear for Black, who even had slightly the better of the draw in Yusupov - Pinski.

Colle/QID 7...a6!? [E14]

Leaping into Queen's Indian transpositional waters brings us to 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 e3 b6 4 Bd3 Bb7 5 0-0 c5 6 c4 Be7 7 Nc3 a6!?, which is a tricky little move designed to take the sting out of d4-d5:

If White is happy to play with an IQP he can go 8 Bc2!?, but 8 b3 Bxf3!? 9 Qxf3 Nc6 was a more radical course preferred in Hebden - Cafferty. Now I quite like 10 Qg3, but in any event the game is instructive for a model positional demonstration from the English Grandmaster.

The Colle Mainline 6...Be7 [D05]

In the pure Colle, after 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 e3 e6 4 Bd3 c5 5 c3 Nc6 6 Nbd2, Black usually opts for 6...Bd6, but the solid 6...Be7 is, of course, far from unknown. It does, however, allow White the extra option of 7 0-0 0-0 8 Ne5:

This reversed Stonewall approach may make a fair amount of sense, but the position can quickly become very blocked, whether Black opts for 8...Nd7 9 f4 f5 or the 8...Nxe5 9 dxe5 Nd7 10 f4 f5 of Stefanova-T.Kosintseva.

The Jobava Attack 2 Nc3 d5 3 Bf4 [D00]

Or so I'm tempted to call 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Bf4 seeing how the highly creative Georgian no.1 continues to employ it, including at Wijk (although Eric also staked a claim to this line - see the '2nd Prié Attack').

Here Black has a wide choice. I still quite like 3...c5, but what does seem to be clear is that 3...e6 4 e3 Be7 5 Bd3 c5 6 dxc5 0-0 7 Nf3 Nbd7!? 8 b4! doesn't give Black quite enough for his pawn, as shown by Jobava - Andreev.

The g3 King's Indian without c2-c4, 6 Nc3 d5! [A49]

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 g3 Bg7 4 Bg2 0-0 5 0-0 d6 6 Nc3 caught me by surprise in N.Pert-Palliser. However, it wasn't too unpleasant a surprise as Fischer's 6...d5!, questioning the knight's position on c3 at the cost of a tempo, should just equalise:

Indeed, I had no early problems, but in characteristic style Nick Pert ground away and was definitely pressing in the run-up to the time control before I escaped with a draw.

A definite lack of Torres, Londons, Veresovs and Barrys this month. Something to rectify in the February update. Until then, Richard

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