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Apart from a brief 'Sofia ruled' hop aloft to the highest ELO spheres, this update continues to do the rounds of the critical 2...Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 Tromp with the 6.d5 line. I had not suspected just how much this had supplanted 6.Nd2 in popularity recently, and so this last move will be revised next month.

Download PGN of June '07 d-Pawn Specials games

London System [A46]

Respect to the top 'gents'! Game One saw the current world n°2 confirming my views by 'slashing' on the Nimzo-London option 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 4.Bf4 c5 5.e3 with the immediate capture on d4 for 'convenience's' sake without giving White the opportunity to recapture the good way:

(i.e. towards the centre after playing a later c2-c3) as I wrote just 2 months ago.

Trompovsky 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 [A45]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 4.f3 Qa5+(!) 5.c3 Nf6 6.d5 Qb6(!) 7.Bc1(!) e6(!) is the main subject this month, when 8.e4 is the latest trend that has brought White tremendous success this last month:

8...d6?! (just as 7...d6 8.c4 e6) only provided the opponent with more options, without gaining anything in return, in Game 2. The major one being 9.c4, possibly transposing into a Sämisch-Benoni (should White eventually decide to recapture with the c-pawn) but having skipped the inconveniences described in games 5 to 7.

Instead White chose 9.Na3?! intending to compensate the loss of time (caused by the repetitive movements of the bishop) by taking advantage of the early commitment of the black queen, but this left the d5-pawn very fragile.

It required only two months for White to get his aim right after the more accurate move order 8...exd5 9.exd5 d6 with 10.c4! in Game 3 which followed the same tragic lack of comprehension as last month's Laznica-Zubarev after 10...Be7?! that had seen Black getting out of the opening completely tied up with no active prospects for his pieces.

My recommendation is still 9...Bd6!, patently profiting from the white bishop's desertion of the b8-h2 diagonal:

Then the 10.Na3 0-0 11.Bd3!? of Game 4 clearly represented an improvement on White's previous play. However, instead of the poor 11...a6?, taking an important square from either his queen or knight, and useless on principle because White will soon be forced to play Nc4 in any case in order to block this square from the discovered check if he intends to castle kingside, Black should have reacted with 11...Re8+ 12.Ne2 Bf8 as in some fashionable 1.e4 e5 lines.

On the other hand, very little has changed after 8.c4 since my last update on this move some 2 and a half years ago:

Still, Black could have seriously improved on Lerner-Rajlich in Game 5 after 8...exd5 9.cxd5 c4 10.e4 Bc5 11.Nh3 d6 12.Nd2 by 12...Qa5! without allowing the intermediate 12...Bxh3 13.Nxc4!

Only the idea of Game 6 10.Nc3 Bc5 11.Nh3 is new, although actually strongly suggested by the previous game, with the sole difference being the white queen's knight development, with interesting possibilities to explore for both sides.

Game 7 illustrates that the pawn can still be taken after 8...Qb4+!? 9.Bd2 Qxb2 10.Nc3 Qb6 11.Rb1 Qd8 12.e4 e5 with 'normal' compensation for White after 13.f4 d6 although I would rather advise the kingside bind policy with 14.f5, as in the sister variation of the 2...c5 Tromp, instead of 14.Nf3 that allowed 14...exf4!?.

To complete this general survey on 2...Ne4, it was also interesting to briefly mark out what happens when either camp does not follow recommended theory.

Thus the holey 7.b3?!, keeping the bishop developed, has to be considered a dubious way to protect the b2 pawn that Game 8 explained in the most shining and didactic manner.

The same goes for refraining from questioning the b2-pawn at once in return for keeping the c-pawn pinned with 6...d6?! 7.e4 as in Game 9, when the second inaccuracy 7...g6 proved one too many after 8.Na3, as with the weakness of d6, Black was never able to play the freeing move ...e7-e6, and without space or play he ended up a simple spectator to the attack against his kingside.

Black retreated the knight without giving the check on a5 by 4...Nf6?! in Game 10 and was duly punished by the considerably improved development of White's queen's knight consecutive to 5..dxc5! Qa5+ 6.Nc3 Qxa5 7.e4 d6 8.Qd2 g6! 9.Be3! Qa5 10.Nb5!:

leading to the loss of the a7-pawn almost out of the blue.

See you soon, Eric