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It’s been a slow resumption in the UK, where the British Online Chess Championships are currently taking place, but elsewhere in Europe some of the normal summer opens are on and there is, of course, that small matter of the World Cup. I’m pleased to bring you five OTB encounters this month, with the remaining two games instructive online ones featuring the Argentinean Grandmaster Leonardo Tristan.

Download PGN of July ’21 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky: 2...c5 3 Bxf6 gxf6 4 d5 f5 [A45]

Black normally meets 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 c5 3 Bxf6 gxf6 4 d5 with 4...Qb6, but 4...f5 and if 5 c4 Bg7 cannot be totally ridiculous of course. Moreover, after 6 Nc3 Bxc3 7 bxc3 e5! Black’s set-up appears to be a decent one:

White can aim to restrain and blockade Black’s central pawns, but he has Nimzo-style weaknesses of his own and Black’s position just looks quite comfortable, as we’ll see in Duda, JK - Saric, I.

The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 6 d5 Qb6 7 Bc1 [A45]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 Baadur Jobava is still dabbling in 4 e3!?, as we’ll see, but most still go 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 6 d5 when 6...Qb6 7 Bc1 e6 8 e4 continues to look fairly attractive for White:

At any rate, 8...exd5 9 exd5 d6 10 c4 Be7 11 Bd3 obtains a grip on the position and one which can quickly become more than just a pleasant edge, as we’ll see in Tristan, L - Kretov, E.

The Trompowsky: 2...g6 3 Bxf6 exf6 4 e3 [A45]

Of course the principled reaction to 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 g6 must be 3 Bxf6 exf6 4 e3 whereupon 4...h5!? was a typical blitz ploy in Tristan, L - Kim, S:

I fear that 5 g3 was a pre-move and Black soon obtained the upper hand after 5...h4 (there’s good reason why White normally prefers to play h2-h4 himself in such positions) 6 Bg2 d6 before being outplayed despite a very promising opening.

The Trompowsky: 2...d5 3 e3 e6 4 Nd2 c5 [D00]

Many 2600+ players continue to meet 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 with 2...d5 when 3 e3 e6 4 Nd2 is a Torre-like approach from White. After 4...c5 5 c3 Be7 6 Bd3 Nc6 I would simply transpose to that opening rather than go in for the ambitious 7 f4!?:

Of course White is after a souped-up version of a Torre, but 7...h6 8 Bh4 Qb6! looks a bit awkward for him. Instead, the anti-positional but ambitious 7...c4!? 8 Bc2 b5 initially favoured White in Agdestein, S - Hammer, JL, a complex and eventful game which ended up as a draw.

The London: 2...c5 3 e3 cxd4 4 exd4 Nc6 5 c3 Bf5 [D00/B13]

One solid and important test of the modern move order 1 d4 d5 2 Bf4 is 2...c5 3 e3 cxd4 4 exd4 Nc6 5 c3 Bf5:

Aron Nimzowitsch’s 6 Nf3 e6 7 Qb3 Qd7 8 Nbd2 f6! continues to hold up well for Black, so Jan-Krzysztof Duda recently preferred 6 Nd2 and White makes a decent case for the simple 6 Bd3 in Berkes, F - Tabatabaei, M. There the Hungarian London expert smoothly outplayed his young Iranian opponent before going astray when presented with a tempting-looking sacrifice.

The London: 2...Nf6 3 Nf3 c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 cxd4 6 exd4 Bf5 [D02]

One of the players of the past month has been Aleksandra Goryachkina, who has not only qualified for the Russian Superfinal, but also defended the fashionable 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Bf4 c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 cxd4 6 exd4 Bf5 when White really has to go 7 Bb5 in a bid to prove any advantage:

Now 7...e6 8 Ne5 Qb6! 9 c4! dxc4 saw Black going on to triumph in Saduakassova, D - Goryachkina, A, although I’m still not so sure that Black is equal after 10 Bxc6+ bxc6 11 Ndxc4.

Black also has 7...Rc8!?, although after 8 Ne5 he should prefer David Navara’s 8...Qb6 to the meek 8...Bd7 of Nihal, S - Kovalenko, I, where the rising Indian star certainly impressed en route to tournament victory in Belgrade.

There may well be more from the World Cup next month! Until then, Richard

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