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I'm afraid this update is rather skewed towards the two most popular of the main openings which fall under the broad 'd-pawn specials' umbrella. Every week there are developments in both the Trompowsky and the London, not to mention the Jobava-Prié Attack, which also gets a look-in this month.

Download PGN of March '14 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 d5 [A45]

Rafael Vaganian's games in the seventies with 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 inspired many to take up the opening, so it was great to see him return to the opening in the first round of the European Championship. Vaganian - Cerbulenco saw 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 d5 4 e3 c5 5 Bd3 cxd4 6 Bxe4 dxe4:

I've updated our coverage of the critical 7 exd4, but Vaganian actually preferred 7 Qxd4. Now Black should go 7...Nc6, but 7...Qxd4 8 exd4 Nc6 also turned out well enough and Vaganian had to undergo a couple of shaky early moments before taking control.

Tromp 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 with 6 Nd2 [A45]

The Trompowsky must be in decent health to attract the interest of leading theoretician Igor Stohl. He had to face the main line with 3...c5 (fellow leading theoretician Peter Wells recently faced 3...d5 4 e3 Nc6!?, which may not be so bad, as the notes demonstrate) 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 and now opted for a line which hasn't been too topical of late, namely 6 Nd2 cxd4 7 Nb3 Qb6 8 Qxd4 Nc6 9 Qxb6 axb6 10 Nd4:

After 10...e5 11 Nxc6 dxc6 12 Bxe5 Be6 13 a3 Black unveiled a new move for us with 13...Nd7!? and in Stohl - Mazur went on to draw comfortably with his GM opponent, using what looked like excellent preparation.

The Vaganian Gambit 2...c5 3 d5 Qb6 4 Nc3 [A45]

Finally, I thought we should pay homage to Rafael Vaganian and especially his old favourite, 2...c5 3 d5 Qb6 4 Nc3! Qxb2 5 Bd2 Qb6 6 e4. I'm delighted to say that fellow columnist Dave Smerdon switched from 1 e4 and his favourite anti-Sicilians to have some fun with this gambit. Smerdon-L'Ami saw 6...d6 7 f4 e6 8 Rb1 Qd8!?, which is rare but must be taken seriously as both L'Amis are always well prepared:

I've taken a look at White's various options here, but even if you've don't play this line with either colour, do still treat yourself to our swashbuckling main game.

The Neo-London System 2...c5 3 e3 Qb6 [A45]

A critical test of 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 is, of course, 2...c5 3 e3 (3 d5!? Qb6 4 Nc3 Qxb2 5 Bd2 leads back to the Vaganian Gambit) 3...Qb6:

After 4 Nc3 Qxb2 5 Nb5 Nd5 White was, somewhat strangely, already plunged into deep thought in Kamsky - Ivanchuk, eventually settling for the early repetition. Just why Kamsky hadn't read Eric's notes we have to wonder.

London v KID 2...g6 3 Nf3 c5!? [A48]

Quite a rare line, if not without logic is 2...g6 3 Nf3 c5!?, which has never been covered before on these pages:

White should respond with 4 e3, and if 4...Qb6 5 Nc3, or 4 c3 Qb6 5 Qb3, as he does in Appel - Carbonnel. Those who consider the London a little too simplistic a choice against the King's Indian may disagree after seeing just how easily Black slips into trouble against his grandmaster opponent.

London System 3...c5 4 e3 Qb6 5 Nc3! [D02]

Two recurring themes in this update are ChessPub contributors and the idea of meeting ...Qb6 with Nc3. In Tu Hoang Thong-Lane, Gary tries the ambitious 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Bf4 c5 4 e3 Qb6 5 Nc3! Bg4:

However, this asks too much of Black's position and I can't believe the Devonian was too happy after 6 Nb5, although he did manage to fight back to draw another lively encounter.

The Jobava-Prié Attack 2 Nc3 d5 3 Bf4 a6 [D00]

I could hardly finish without examining Jobava's latest two efforts with his favourite 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Bf4. How do you think he met 3...a6 4 e3 g6?

Having seen the Georgian GM's particular brand of chess before on these pages, I'm sure that you found 5 h4! Nf6 6 h5. White goes on to win a very impressive game in Jobava - Savchenko where Black's extra rook never matched White's additional knight.

Let's hope for some more lively games next month. Until then, Richard

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