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With Eric busy playing and coaching all over France, it's a pleasure to sit in for a month not least because Nigel Short has been experimenting with 1 d4 of late. Unfortunately for d-pawn Attack fans we will see the English Grandmaster coming unstuck in a critical line of the Tromp, but Short had earlier made great use of the Veresov to blow away that super-talent Anish Giri.

Download PGN of June '10 d-Pawn Specials games

The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 [A45]

By no means everyone likes to meet 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 with 6 d5. Indeed, 6 Nd2 has long been a popular alternative when 6...cxd4 7 Nb3 can lead to a complex queenless middlegame after 7...Qb6 8 Qxd4. However, 7...Qf5!? is an uncompromising alternative, leading after 8 Bxb8! Rxb8 9 Qxd4 b6 10 e4 Qf4 to a critical position:

White has some lead in development, but how can he best make use of that to punch some holes in Black's solid position? Two English Trompowsky experts clash in Walton - Povah where White goes in for 11 Ne2!? Qc7 12 e5 Ng8 13 Ng3, angling for a timely Nf5 or Nh5. This has long been considered fine for Black, but I suspect that a small reassessment may be in order.

Certainly the oft-praised 11 Nh3 Qc7 12 e5 Ng8 13 0-0-0 e6 is not definitely in White's favour:

At this point I would go on the offensive with the immediate 14 Ng5!?, but White has often preferred 14 f4 as he did in Short - Ivanchuk where 14...Ne7 15 Ng5 Bb7! 16 Bd3!? Bxg2 17 Rhg1 Bd5 gave the Englishman at best sufficient compensation for the pawn.

The Barry Attack [D00]

We begin our coverage of Mark Hebden's favourite by looking at the old main line, 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Bf4 Bg7 5 e3 0-0 6 Be2, an approach which may regain some favour after the recent publication of a new edition of Aaron Summerscale's A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire. Unfortunately I find it hard to recommend this system to strong players as more than a surprise weapon:

Black's main continuation, 6...c5, has long been known to be OK for him and 6...c6 is a very solid and respectable alternative, as we'll see in Legky - Lahno. Moreover, it seems that even with 6...Bg4 Black can obtain sufficient counterchances. This was long condemned on the basis of 7 Ne5 Bxe2 8 Qxe2 c6 (the more active 8...c5!? is also very playable) 9 h4, but 9...Nbd7 10 0-0-0 Nh5! frustrates White on the kingside and seems no more than roughly equal:

Hebden once scored a crushing victory from this position, but Black's play can most certainly be improved as demonstrated in the notes to Staroske - Komissarov.

Bearing in mind his difficulties with 5 e3, White has often turned to 5 Qd2!? of late, the Tarzan or Vorotnikov-Kogan-Hebden Attack. After 5...0-0 6 Bh6 I had hoped to reveal that White had good chances to be better, but unfortunately Black continues to do well with 6...Nc6 and even the slightly slow 6...c6 needn't have turned out too badly in Stefanova - Schneider. Once again I guess we must say that while White could regularly score well with 5 Qd2 at club level, those playing international tournaments should not use it as more than a surprise weapon.

As well as 5 Qd2 0-0, Black has a good alternative in the simplifying 5...Ne4, after which 6 Nxe4 dxe4 7 Ne5 Nd7 8 Nxd7 Qxd7! prevents White from obtaining an early initiative:

Play often continues 9 e3 0-0 10 Qc3, but White won't prevent ...c5 for ever and practice has shown 10...c6 11 Be2 b6! to give Black sufficient counterchances, as it did in Bisby - Palliser.

The Veresov [D01]

Finally, I could hardly write a column without including one of the most dramatic games of recent months, namely Nigel Short's victory with the Veresov over the wunderkind Anish Giri. After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Bg5 Nbd7 4 e3 e6 5 Qf3!? Giri may have already been on his own, but play was hardly clear until he erred with 5...c5 (as shown by Eric, 5...Bb4!? is quite a challenging alternative) 6 0-0-0 a6 7 Nge2 Qa5 8 Bxf6! Nxf6 9 g4 b5 10 g5 Nd7 11 Nf4 cxd4?!:

Here Short seized a strong initiative with 12 Nxd5! and it wasn't long before his opponent collapsed under the resulting pressure, even though matters were actually still far from clear at this point in Short - Giri.

That's all for this month. Eric will be back soon! Richard