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As promised we have something of a London special this month, with Gata Kamsky very much to the fore. He tends to use the opening as a grinding tool, but has recently produced one sparkling attack with it, as we'll see, while Ferenc Berkes unfurls an important novelty in a critical line of the Morris Gambit.

Download PGN of July '15 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Torre Attack v KID 2...g6 [A48]

We begin, however, with 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bg5. Vladimir Kramnik has had plenty of experience on the white side of 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 Bg4 3 Bg2 of late, so must have thought why not switch sides and play with an extra tempo? His initial attempt gave him a slight edge against Caruana and then he went 3...Bg7 4 Nbd2 0-0 5 e3 against Nepomniachtchi:

This slow approach may not look like much, but the aim is to take Black away from the ...c5 set-ups of the main line with 5 c3 d6 6 e4 c5. After 5...d6 6 c3 Nbd7 7 Bd3 e5 8 0-0 the position very much resembles a reversed King's Indian Attack and Kramnik won instructively in Kramnik - Nepomniachtchi thanks to a strong positional exchange sacrifice.

The London System v King's Indian 3 Bf4 Bg7 4 c3 [A48]

Kamsky has had a few encounters in recent months with his favourite move order, 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bf4 Bg7 4 c3, with Kamsky - Trjapishko continuing 4...0-0 5 Nbd2 d6 6 h3 Nbd7 7 Bh2!?:

This prophylactic retreat avoids any early ...e5 hit and after 7...c5 8 e3 b6 9 a4 Kamsky must have been happy enough, far though we are from talking about an objective white advantage.

The former U.S. Champion likes to vary his move order on some occasions, though, and has also tried 5 h3 of late when 5...c5 6 c3 Qb6 7 Qb3 d6 8 Nbd2 Be6 9 Bc4 Bxc4 10 Nxc4 is quite critical:

Gelfand got into trouble against Tomashevsky after 10...Qa6 and 10...Qc6!? improves (11 Na5 Qb6 12 Nxb7 Nbd7 prevents the white knight from escaping), although Black was soon outplayed in Kamsky - Chirila.

Returning to the 5 Nbd2 move order and here, as in certain other lines, Black's best or at least one of his most uncompromising approaches is 5...d6 6 h3 Nfd7!?, forcing through ...e5 at all costs:

This tends to lead to positions where both sides expand on their respective flanks and Black has a pleasant enough game, so long as he can untangle his queenside pieces. The leading Croatian theoretician Bogdan Lalic shows just how to do that in Markus - Lalic.

The Morris Gambit [D00]

A more lively line of the London is 1 d4 d5 2 Bf4 c5 3 e4!? dxe4 4 d5 Nf6 5 Nc3, which I was surprised to see the strong Hungarian Grandmaster Ferenc Berkes employing. However, he has clearly done some work on it and isn't scared of 5...a6 6 Qe2 g6, which is one of the key tests. Indeed, his simple but strong new idea is 7 0-0-0 Bg7 8 Nxe4 Nxe4 9 Qxe4 0-0 10 Qe3!:

The idea is not only Bh6, but also to keep the kingside pawns flexible. Perhaps Black can equalise with best play, but his task is not so easy and he falls victim to a bold assault in Berkes - Prohaszka.

The Veresov 3...c5 4 Bxf6 gxf6 5 e4!? [D01]

We move into arguably less theoretical waters with 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Bg5 c5 4 Bxf6 gxf6 5 e4!? dxe4 6 dxc5 Qa5 7 Qd5 in Stukopin - Belyakov:

I'm still not overly taken by White's ambitious play and Black has a couple of lines which look quite pleasant for him, just not the dubious pawn sacrifice of the game.

The Anti-Colle 3...c5 4 b3 [D04]

Finally, we come to a line which is relatively popular at club level, 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 e3 c5 4 b3, the-Zukertort-at-all-costs approach, against which 4...Nc6 5 Bb2 Bg4 is a good response:

Deploying the bishop outside the pawn chain gives Black a pretty easy game and he isn't suddenly going to come under a kingside attack. That said, White can gradually manoeuvre and Humpy Koneru shows how to exploit some overly-solid play by Black in Koneru - Thejkumar.

As ever, the chess world is awash with summer tournaments over the coming weeks and months. Good luck with your d-pawn specials if you do venture out!


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