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This month, we mainly continue considering the problem of 1...d5 for the d-Pawn Specials player with the study of the "natural" London system.

Download PGN of June '05 d-Pawn Specials games

Trompowsky [A45]

The first two games, however, illustrate the utilization of the move ...d7-d6 in the critical 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 e6 3.e4 h6 4.Bxf6 Qxf6 Trompowsky/Torre.

Although after 5.c3 the reply 5...d6 appears inferior to the solid 5...d5 that we examined in April:

Game 1 saw a complex struggle, and an opposite castle attacks race.

Torre Attack [A46]

5...d6 does, however, seem to be the most appropriate against 5.Nf3 and this often arises from the Torre by transposition:

The lack of breakthroughs for White, who is unable to throw his f-pawn into the combat, provided Black with the better perspectives, thanks to his 2 bishops, in Game 2 after he had levelled development.

London System [D00]

Game 3, following on from last month's subject, emphasizes exactly what Black should not do against the London: 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4 e6 (Hard to criticize the move in itself, however...) 4.e3 Be7 (Same comment...) 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Nbd2 0-0?:

Castling into it!

Back to more healthy Chess in the rest of the update with the first problem of how to counter mirror play with 3...Bf5:

Now it is difficult for White to break the symmetry with the move c2-c4 because of the weakness of the a5-a1 diagonal and, in connection with this delayed central attack, the awkward positioning of his queen's bishop.

So, in Game four, 5.c4? was met by 5...dxc4! 6.e3 Nd5, (with the threat of ...Nb4) so White had to give up his fierce London bishop by 7.Bxc4 Nxf4 8.exf4 e6 9.Qb3?! (This attempt at justifying his play only make things worse.) 9...Nd7 10.Qxb7 Rb8 and as White realized (a bit late) that he could not take on a7, Black obtained everything he could have dreamt of against a formal World champion...after 11.Qa6 Rxb2.

Note that 5.e3 e6 6.c4?! Bxb1! is also dubious, and White will not be able to avoid symmetrical development after 6.Nbd2 or 6.c3 (which he had already played, prophylactically, before moving his queen's bishop in Prié-Bouvier last month) and without any central tension will struggle to provoke an imbalance, but at least the solid reputation of the London system will not be besmirched!

The next 3 games focus on the main problem for the London, the move 3...c5!, which hits where it hurts:

Black seizes the initiative in the centre which will be difficult to counter, not because of the development of the white queen's bishop, but mainly because it allowed the opponent to play his c-pawn forward 2 squares without having to first shut his own bishop in with ...e7-e6 in order to protect this lever.

Game five then saw 4.e3 Nc6! (Simpler and more economic than 4...Qb6) 5.c3 (What else?) 5...Qb6 (only now!) 6.Qb3 c4 7.Qc2 Bf5!:

Black follows the standard recipe, the strength of which was illustrated by Kramnik in his time with reversed colours to more or less refute the Baltic Slav. The game continued 8.Qc1 Qd8!. On a strict accounting point of view (as in the imaginary sequence 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4 c5 4.e3 Cc6 5.c3 c4 6.Qc1 Bf5, say) the second player has not won any development tempi by forcing the enemy queen to c1. So the stake of the game can be summarized by one question: is the pawn on c4 a strength or a weakness? A weakness that can be undermined, since it is clear that the development of the white queen is far from optimal on c1.

In the game, the answer was shown to be: "It was a strength!"

To avoid this problem, and to possibly threaten to take on c5, White supported his d-pawn in Game six by 4.c3 when Black continued 4...Qb6 5.Qb3 c4!? 6.Qxb6 (I have noticed that it is often difficult for the untitled player to withstand the feeling of moving backwards with his pieces! Nevertheless, 6.Qc2 is preferable because the square c8 is not guarded this time, so 6...Bf5?? loses to 7.Qxf5 Qxb2 8.Qc8 mate.) 6...axb6 7.Nbd2?:

This is inaccurate, (7.Na3 either in this move order or in the previous game's one, in case of 7.Qxb6 axb6 8.Na3, is the critical idea which will be studied next month.) 7...b5 8.h3 h5!. Everything is under control and Black is ready to develop a very strong initiative on the queenside.

In order not to leave the opponent the possibility of 6.Qc2, Black played the objectively more precise 5...Nc6 in Game Seven with the idea of transposing into game 5 after 6.e3 c4, but White interestingly frustrated this plan by 6.dxc5! Qxc5:

Afterwards, the game followed the path of a reversed Slav (i.e. 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Qc2 dxc4 5.Qxc4 Bf5) where Black could have got the upper hand only because the square on b3(b6) has to be reserved for the queen's knight in this line.

Instead he offered the lower rated opponent (by not less than 340 ELO points!) the initiative, lost a pawn, but eventually clinched an absolutely undeserved victory due to a blunder brought on by tiredness.

Game eight represents an attempt for White to play a 1...d5 London or Torre system after first dissuading the opponent from playing ...c7-c5: 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c3, this is similar to last month's 2.c3 but having lost the flexibility (which can be useful) of his king's knight development.

However, Black played 3...Bf5! (But what about b7?) 4.Qb3?!. It is almost a rule in the d-Pawn Specials universe that a queen has nothing to do on b3 (or b6) when the attack against the opposing b-pawn can be adequately met by Qc8/c1, e.g. in general when there is no c-pawn exerting pressure on the centre.

After 4...Qc8 5.Bf4 a6 Black is already ready to play c5, 6.Nh4 Be4 7.Nd2 h6 8.Nxe4 dxe4! 9.g3 c5 10.Bxb8! which seems a bit ridiculous but White finally held the position thanks to the presence of the opposite coloured bishops

  • Trompowsky
  • Torre Attack
  • London System

  • Till next month! Eric Prié.