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Eric's busy campaigning (French chess clearly has better remunerated posts than in England!), so I've stepped in again, focussing especially on two of my favourite openings, the Trompowsky and the Colle.

Download PGN of March '13 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky 2...c5 3 Bxf6 [A45]

Last year at Wijk Van Wely employed 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 to surprise and defeat Anish Giri, and he was back at it this year with another countryman, Erwin L'Ami, this time his opponent. Like Giri, L'Ami opted for 2...c5 3 Bxf6 gxf6 4 d5 Qb6 5 Qc1 f5, but here Van Wely deviated and opted for a move which continues to grow in popularity, namely 6 c4:

The younger, lower-rated of the two Dutch GMs followed an earlier game of his, but in Van Wely-L'Ami White had come well prepared and soon enjoyed a pleasant early advantage.

2...d5 3 e3 c6 [D03]

A more solid option for Black is 2...d5 when 3 e3 keeps White's options open. I still very much believe that 3...c5 is the critical response, but, as well as 3...e6 and a likely transposition to Torre waters, both 3...c6 and 3...Nbd7 are possible as we'll see in another recent brutal Trompowsky encounter, namely Laznicka - Bobras.

The Colle/QID [E14]

Black's most popular counter to 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 e3 at international level is 3...b6 4 Bd3 Bb7 5 0-0 c5, playing along Queen's Indian lines:

Now 6 c4 actually takes play directly into Queen's Indian waters and remains critical in my view, with Danielian - Miezis White's most recent crushing victory in the line.

Colle-Zukertort without ...d5 [A47]

It's also possible to play along Colle-Zukertort lines with 6 b3 Be7 7 Bb2, after which a Hedgehog structure often arises. It's well known that Black's defences are hard to crack there, but the defensive idea he employs to score something of an upset in Kosic - Draskovic is not so well known.

Colle-Zukertort [D05]

Black is by no means forced into a Hedgehog-type approach, however, and in Ehlvest - Wojtaszek 6...d5 7 Bb2 Bd6 8 c4 (a pure Zukertort player would prefer to leave this pawn at home and place his knights on d2 and e5) 8...cxd4 9 exd4 Nc6 10 Nbd2 0-0 reaches a position which can come about via a number of move orders:

White will often be saddled with hanging pawns and this rapid encounter is not a good advertisement for his chances, although his fortunes improve when Black carelessly activates the key dark-squared guy on b2.

The Torre Attack ...e6, ...b6 [A47]

The position after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bg5 b6 4 e3 Bb7 5 Bd3 c5 6 c3 Be7 7 Nbd2 0-0 actually arose from a Trompowsky move order in Ivanchuk - Aronian:

White usually castles here, but Ivanchuk dared to try 8 Bxf6!? Bxf6 9 h4?! and was soon in trouble after the calm 9...Nc6!. Not one to repeat in your own games.

Torre ...g6 [A48]

Finally we take a look at the other main type of Torre, 2...g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 and then 4 Nbd2 0-0 5 c3 d5 6 e3 c5 7 Bd3 b6:

Here too White usually goes 8 0-0, but 8 Qe2!? Bb7 9 h4!? wasn't completely crazy in Vachier Lagrave-Ju Wenjun and White's brutal victory should obtain more imitators than Ivanchuk's play.

That's all for this month, Richard

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