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Answering a question asked on the forum, the main subject of this month's update is truly fascinating and arises, in general, after the sequence 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.h4, which was one of my predecessor's favourite lines.

Download PGN of March '06 d-Pawn Specials games

Trompowsky [A45]

Strangely he never covered the logical response 3...c5 4.dxc5 Na6:

5.Qd4! (I like this move which reminds me of my game against Levin in the 2...c5 Tromp that saw 3.dxc5 Na6 4.Qd4!? e6 5.Nc3 Bxc5 6.Qh4) 5...Nxc5 6.Nc3 Nxc3 7.Qxc5 Ne4 8.Qd5! Avoiding ...Qa5+ which would free the e-pawn from the pin (incidentally, White sometimes prefers 5 Nd2 which reaches the same position after 5...Naxc5 6 Nxe4 Nxe4 7 Qd5 with a move less each), and therefore more or less obliging 8...Nxg5 9.hxg5:

So here it is, after just 9 moves White has conceded possibly everything that he could cede: his influential dark-squared Tromp bishop, the centre, he has compromised his structure and is not even ahead in development!

Needless to say that having put all his eggs in the same basket for the sake of a semi open file, it has to be a hefty, dynamic basket!

Actually, I believe it is the wildest theoretical position after 9 moves of the whole d-Pawn Special area, the unshared domain of the 'h-pawn sorcerer', one Igor Miladinovic!

In fact, the first 5 games all resemble each other, seeing White constantly teetering on the edge of an abyss, and developing treasures of ingenuity along the h-file to avoid tumbling ... with the defender sometimes grumbling at the chance to render some material in order to solve his development problems (an approach one should always favour and seek against gambits, especially in such situations where there exists the possibility of emphasizing other arguments than an extra pawn later on) with crazy hair-raising complications.

A picture being better than a thousand words, here are 5 diagrams to make the mind salivate:

Game 1, after 22...Bb5:

Game 2 after 18.Rxa7??:

Game 3 after 18.b4:

Game 4 after 20...b5:

Game 5 after 13...Qxg1??:

London System [D00]

The second part is more tranquil and features some London examples where White makes intensive use of Nb1-c3 in the first 5 moves with his pawn still on c2. It serves as a good introduction to the Veresov and the problems of playing reversed defences from the very start of the game.

Thus, Game 6 saw 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.e3 c5 4.Nc3 Qa5! 5.Qd2?! cxd4 6.exd4 a6! 7.Nf3 Nc6:

where Black has already comfortably equalized whilst enjoying a better pawn structure and, which is most important in this case, will be able to develop his queen's bishop out of the pawn chain.

Using the same relevant move order, though not the actual one of Game 7, White played the naturally more critical 5.dxc5 Qxc5 (5...a6! instead is probably better) 6.Bxb8!? (this uncommon theme, typical of the Bf4+e3 London setup, which attempts to exploit the relative weakness of the a4-e8 diagonal, is already familiar to us) 6...Rxb8 7.Bb5+ Kd8!:

White is positionally worse: lesser centre, pieces, semi open file and more space for the opponent, aka 'statically' worse as Dorfman would say, but he has good 'dynamic' chances (employing the same terminology) against the temporarily exposed enemy king. This means he has to play energetically before Black regroups with ...Kc7, ...Rc8, ...Kb8.

Well, he strove to but did not quite succeed!

Game 8 is very special to me since it was the first time in my career I had to face 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 in a serious game (of an important match) for my Catalan club of Figueres a few weeks ago.

Thus, in this context of extra pressure, with all the reserves I had expressed about this opening, was I going to be able to prove the correctness of my views?

First of all, I had to calm down and then make up my mind: 2...c5 or Nf6 ? 2...Nf6 or c5 ? That is the problem when you know too many things!

I opted for 2...Nf6!

I have my own theory about blundering and inexplicably starting to play below one's normal level. I believe it all comes from stress. I understand some people play stronger when adrenaline shoots their nerves. Personally it tends to make me lose my poise and then I am capable of truly horrifying 'achievements'!

So I did not FEEL - the key word - like playing 2...c5 3.e4 Nc6 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Nc3 Qf5! as we saw in January, no matter how strong it might be.

To be frank, 2...c5 may be more precise, taking the initiative without delay (Instead of 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.c3!? for instance when after 3...Bf5 Black has to pin his hopes on the common opposing sin of the over-optimistic 4.Qb3?!, like Ponomariov, when Black can play 4...Qc8! as Van Wely did against me) but it appears I dislike being a pawn or more up just as much as being a pawn or more down right in the opening!

Alas, my opponent replied 3.Nf3 instead of the expected 3.e3, and then 3...c5 4.e3 Nc6 5.Nc3?! Like the fierce Chigorin, Baltic, Albin player but the practice of reversed systems possesses its mysteries which are not easy to pierce...And White, after 5...Bg4 rapidly had to bring himself to fish in troubled waters in which he only found a string of inferior endings.

Till next month, Eric