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As mentioned in dispatches last month, we have a high-level Trompowsky from the final leg of the Grand Chess Tour, as well as plenty of thematic games and recent developments to enjoy. Look out especially for the odd Greek Gift or two!

Download PGN of January ’16 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky 2...d6 [A45]

When Black meets 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 with 2...d5 White tends to exchange on f6 much less than he used to, but after 2...d6, 3 Bxf6 exf6 4 e3 g6 5 c4 Bg7 6 Nc3 f5 7 g3 Nd7 8 Bg2 0-0 9 Nge2 is still quite de rigueur:

We take a look at this likely '+=' position and a fine display from Laznicka in Laznicka - Mista.

The Trompowsky 2...d5 3 e3 c5 4 Bxf6 gxf6 [D00]

Caruana - Giri was a game one always thought would be a draw, although the unbalanced 2...d5 3 e3 c5 4 Bxf6 gxf6 5 dxc5 Nc6!? gave hope of a decisive result:

It turned out that Caruana didn't have any super new idea, but simply wanted to play chess, which 6 c3!? certainly did and eventually quite a well-played encounter was, indeed, drawn.

The Colle-Zukertort Mainline 8...b6 [D05]

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 e3 is the first of our three main 'system-based' openings which gets examined this month. It isn't quite as popular as it was when Big Vlad was killing all and sundry with it back in October, but has still seen some recent grandmaster testing. Henriquez Villagra-Rosito sees the main line of the Colle-Zukertort, 3...c5 4 Bd3 d5 5 b3 Nc6 6 Bb2 Bd6 7 0-0 0-0, only for White to then reject 8 Nbd2 in favour of 8 a3. After 8...b6 9 Nbd2 Bb7 10 Ne5, 10...Qc7!? is new for us, but seems reasonable for Black:

The idea is to follow up with the defensive regrouping 11 f4 Ne7!, after which Black was fine before going on to lose a rather strange encounter.

The Torre Attack v KID 8 h4!? [A48]

Talking of strange encounters, next up we have Mamedyarov - Gao Rui, where we consider developments after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 0-0 5 c3. After 5...d6 6 e4 c5 Aronian and Melkumyan have been to the fore as White, but without demonstrating too much, while Black's other main option, 5...d5 6 e3 Nbd7 7 Be2 Re8, is the choice of the young Chinese player:

Here White usually goes 8 0-0 e5 9 b4 or 8 h3!?, but neither was going to appeal to the Shak Attack, who, indeed, tried 8 h4!?. This doesn't appear too dangerous, but an uncompromising, entertaining struggle did ensue.

The Torre Attack v KID 4 c3 Ne4!? [A48]

Sometimes White prefers to begin with 4 c3, which avoids 4 Nbd2 c5!? and provokes 4...Ne4 5 Bh4 0-0 6 Nbd2 f5:

However, the resulting Leningrad/Stonewall position seems quite pleasant for White, who wins well in positional fashion in Eljanov - Sutovsky.

The London System - Anti-Nimzo 8 Bd3 b6 9 e4 [D02]

A few recent encounters after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bf4 have caught my eye, as we'll see in Grachev - Gorodetzky. There the solid 3...d5 4 e3 Bd6 5 Nbd2 0-0 6 Bg3 c5 7 c3 Nc6 is seen:

Here Kamsky has done quite well with 8 Bb5!? of late, despite Eric's dislike of the move, while Grachev gets lucky when Black meets 8 Bd3 b6 9 e4 with 9...dxe4?! 10 Nxe4 Nxe4 11 Bxe4 Bb7, allowing White a handy, early initiative.

The London System - 4...a6?! [D02]

The London must be pretty topical for it dominated the last couple of days in Qatar, being used by both Kramnik (again!) and Carlsen (ditto). In his first blitz play-off encounter, Carlsen - Yu Yangyi, the world champion had to face 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 d5 3 e3 e6 4 Nf3 a6?!, a slow approach more commonly seen at club level:

The result: a superb, steadily-built attack from Carlsen and, overall, something of an anti-computer strategy, since the engines remain pretty clueless to Black's fate until far too late.

The Jobava-Prié Attack 3...e6 [D00]

Baadur Jobava is still employing 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Bf4 a fair bit, especially in speed games. We take a look in Jobava - Sarana, where White must have been happy enough to have seen 3....e6 4 e3 Be7 5 Nf3 0-0 6 Bd3 c5 7 dxc5 Bxc5 8 0-0:

This is all very thematic from White and after 8...Bd7 9 e4 dxe4 10 Nxe4 can you spot why Black shouldn't trade further on e4?

Until next month, Richard

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