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With Eric still adjusting to life in Carcassonne and no doubt busy marvelling at the very impressive walls, I'm again filling in this month and have selected a range of d-pawn systems to examine. Look out especially for a lovely attack from Bukal, not to mention Eric's own contribution on the London.

Download PGN of March '12 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky 2...e6 3 e4 c5 [A45]

One potential problem with 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 e6 3 e4 is 3...h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 Nc3 Bb4, but 3...c5!? is also quite challenging. The safe way to play as White is 4 d5, but whether he has any advantage after 4...d6 5 Nc3 Be7 6 Bb5+ Bd7 7 dxe6 fxe6 I somewhat doubt:

Blowing open the centre with 8 e5 fails to bring any dividends, so White opts for 8 a4!? in Shengelia - Maurer, against which it seems Black can equalise with care, although he fails to in the game.

A sharper option is 4 e5 h6 5 Bc1! Nd5 (5...Nh7!? is another story) 6 c4 when Black has tried all four available squares for his knight. On the latest evidence, and thanks to some pioneering analysis by Cherniaev and Prokuronov in their fairly recent work The New Old Indian, it seems that 6...Nb6!? is in decent shape, at least so long as Black meets 7 dxc5 Bxc5 8 Qg4 with 8...Kf8!:

I'm still not too sure what White should try here and in Weller - Palliser I soon enjoyed a promising early initiative.

Tromp 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 [A45]

Another arguably underrated defence is 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 6 d5 e6, instead of the standard 6...Qb6. That said, with 7 e4 exd5 8 exd5 d6 9 Qd2 Be7 10 c4 White may be able to claim a pull. Popov - Nedilko from the current European Championship continued 10...Qd8 11 Nc3 0-0 and now 12 Bd3 would be the sensible choice, but the grandmaster couldn't resist 12 g4!?:

This looks dangerous, but after 12...Ne8! Black was in time to set up counterplay and he soon enjoyed an excellent Benko-type position with White's king housed on the wrong flank.

The London System v KID [A48]

I'm delighted to say that Eric sent me some notes to a recent game of his in one of the critical lines after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 g6 3 e3 Bg7 4 Nf3 0-0 5 Be2 d6 6 0-0!, with play continuing 6...Nbd7 7 h3 (only now for reasons we'll emphasise in the notes) 7...b6 8 a4!?:

Caruana recently tried 8...a6 here against Ivanchuk, which makes more sense than allowing 8...Bb7?! 9 a5, after which White had an edge and quickly turned it into an extra exchange in Prié-Riff.

The Fianchetto Anti-King's Indian [A49]

Yes, this is quite a vague term, but what else to call 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 g3 Bg7 4 Bg2 when White doesn't follow up with c2-c4? Quite a fighting response is 4...c5, and if 5 c3 then 5...Qc7!?:

This was new to me until it appeared on the adjacent board in the recent final Finnish League weekend. My suspicion is that it's a move long known in the former USSR, with one good point being that it enables Black to meet any dxc5 with ...Qxc5. White elects to expand in the centre in Dokutchaev - Solozhenkin, which must be quite critical, but the game leads only to an almost Lopez-like manoeuvring struggle with chances for both sides.

The Veresov 3...g6 [D01]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Bg5 quite a provocative choice is 3...g6. White usually takes up the gauntlet with 4 f3 or 4 Qd2 and I can't really bring myself to recommend 4 e3, but Black underestimates such simple development at his peril. In Bukal - Valles it doesn't take White long to show in some style why ...h6 followed by ...g5 to hunt down the dark-squared bishop can be a pretty risky policy in such positions.

The Veresov 3...h6 [D01]

Finally, we come to 3...h6!?, which continues to pose questions. After 4 Bxf6 exf6 5 e3 Black has a few options:

As we've seen before, Gawain did pretty well against me by setting up a Dutch-style position with 5...c6 6 Bd3 f5!, but Mickey Adams preferred piece play with 5...Bb4!? and soon had the advantage in a game from last summer's British Championship. I suspect that 5...Be6 is a weaker option, although it took some fine creative play with 6 Nge2 Bd6 7 Nb5!? to show this in Karttunen - Sipila.

That's all for this month. Dare I say that Eric will be back after Easter? Richard

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