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We have something of an Indian theme with our first four games taken from the strong recent Opens in Mumbai and New Delhi. India, along with China, may be the future land of chess, but for now those venerable tournaments, Hastings and Wijk aan Zee, also get a look in this month.

Download PGN of January ’18 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 d5 4 f3 [A45]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4 d5 4 f3 we saw Mamedyarov championing the rare 4...Nd6!? last month. There’s more on that again this time, although our main game sees 4...Nf6 5 e4 c5!?:

This is logical, but extremely rare and quickly gave Black a decent version of the French in Gareev, T - Debarshi, M.

The Trompowsky: 2...e6 3 Nd2 c5 4 e3 [A45]

Yes, 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 e6 3 Nd2 c5 4 e3 will often become a Torre, but it doesn’t have to, as indeed we’re beginning to see more and more often. After 4...d5 5 c3 Nc6 White could transpose with 6 Nf3, but 6 Bd3 Qb6 7 Rb1 e5!? was much more independent in Rahman, Z - Tran Tuan Minh:

This is certainly ambitious from Black too and might not quite cut it after 8 dxe5 Nxe5 9 Bc2, but White is in turn more ambitious in the game, where Rahman eventually prevails in instructive fashion.

The Trompowsky: 2...d5 3 e3 c5 [D00]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 d5 3 e3 c5 White is still trying 4 c3 a fair bit. Then 4...Nc6 5 Nd2 e5!? has definite shades of the 2...e6 line we considered above:

Here Black isn’t losing a tempo with his e-pawn, but also White’s pieces can flow out and he was quickly slightly for choice in Tran Tuan Minh-Moksh, A.

The Torre Attack: 2...e6 3 Bg5 c5 4 c3 d5 [D03]

Meeting 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bg5 c5 4 c3 with 4...d5 is very classical and unsurprisingly has appealed to Sergei Tiviakov. With 5 Nbd2 Nbd7 6 e3 Be7 7 Bd3 Qc7!? he followed in Georg Meier’s footsteps:

The critical test of this remains 8 0-0 0-0 9 Rc1, but even after c3-c4 Black is very solid and may well be able to equalise, as we’ll see in Rahman, Z - Tiviakov, S.

The Torre v KID 2...g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 0-0 5 e4 [A48]

The modern way of handling 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 0-0 as White is 5 c3, but 5 e4 d5 6 exd5 Nxd5 7 Nb3!? might deserve a second look:

Preparing a retreat square for the Torre bishop on d2 isn’t hugely ambitious, but Black can drift into trouble and, indeed, White won thanks to a fine attacking effort in Gormally, D - Fier, A.

The Torre v KID 2...g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 0-0 5 c3 [A48]

Other Torre players still prefer 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 0-0 5 c3 d6 6 e4 when Black has done well enough of late with both ...Nc6 and ...e5 set-ups and the main line, 6...c5. We take a look in Adhiban, B - Safarli, E, where 7 dxc5 dxc5 8 Bc4 Nc6 9 Qe2 h6 10 Bxf6 exf6 was all quite critical:

White does have the better structure and d5-square, but in reality only has a minute plus and the Azeri GM held without too much difficulty.

The London: 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Bf4 Bf5 [D02]

One of Magnus Carlsen’s many strengths is being unafraid to challenge his opponents in positions where they have experience, 1 Nf3 d5 2 d4 Nf6 3 Bf4 Bf5 4 e3 e6 5 c4!? Bxb1 6 Qxb1 Bb4+ 7 Kd1 being a case in point:

Wesley So was the first top player to head this way as White, but on the other side of the board he has now lost twice to the world champion, as we’ll see in Carlsen, M - So, W.

More from Wijk aan Zee next month. Until then, Richard

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