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Much to enjoy this month, including a fairly high level test of the h4 Trompowsky and plenty of instructive meistering (model play à la meister gegen amateur) on the white side of some of our favourite systems.

Download PGN of March ’23 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 h4 d5 4 Nd2 Bf5 [A45]

After the solid 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 h4!? d5 and then 4 Nd2 we have developments to consider after both 4...Nd6 and the main line, 4...Bf5. Then 5 e3 might well be quite a clever move order or at least 5...h6 6 Bf4 e6 7 g4!? Bh7 8 Nxe4 Bxe4 9 f3 Bh7 10 Bd3 Bxd3 11 Qxd3 saw White getting in a fairly useful extra move in g2-g4 in Henriguez Villagra, C - Flores, D.

Whether this is enough for an advantage is a moot point, but White went on to seize the initiative with some aggressive middlegame play.

The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 6 d5 Qb6 [A45]

By no means everyone is unsurprisingly sold on 3 h4!? and 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 6 d5 Qb6 might very much still be considered the main line after 2...Ne4.

Here we will explore Erigaisi’s use of White’s most common move, 7 Bc1, as well as developments after 7 e4!?, a sharp gambit line which of late the legendary American FM Asa Hoffmann has made good use of. Black should really go in for 7...Qxb2 8 Nd2 Qxc3 9 Bc7, not duck out and 7...e6? 8 Na3! was already excellent for White in Cordova, E - Andersen, G.

The Trompowsky: 2...c5 3 Bxf6 gxf6 [A45]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 c5 I suspect that White is best advised to stick with one of the main lines, be that 3 d5 or 3 Bxf6 (3 dxc5 Na6 4 Nc3 Nxc5 5 Bxf6 gxf6 also didn’t turn out especially well for White in a recent Dardha-Vachier-Lagrave encounter, as we’ll see) 3...gxf6 and then 4 d5, not 4 c3 e6 5 e3 d5 6 Nd2 Nc6 7 Ngf3:

Here Black has a fairly pleasant choice and goes on to win in largely crushing fashion after 7...f5!? in Livaic, L - Firouzja, A.

The Trompowsky: 2...e6 3 Nd2 [A45]

1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 e6 3 Nd2 (we also consider developments after 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 c3 d5 this month) 3...h6 4 Bh4 d5 5 e3 c5 6 c3 Bd6 7 Bd3 Nc6...

....Should White simply transpose to a Torre with 8 Nf3 or be tempted to go 8 f4? The latter choice is not without practical sting, but objectively should be welcomed by a well-prepared black player, as we’ll see in Shimanov, A - Hambleton, A.

The Jobava-Prié Attack: 3...c5 4 e3 cxd4 5 exd4 a6 [D00]

Arjun Erigaisi continues to fly the flag for 1 d4 d5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Bf4 and after 3...c5 4 e3 cxd4 5 exd4 a6 6 Nf3 Nc6 7 Ne5 Bd7 goes 8 g4:

A sensible opponent will decline the g-pawn and 8...e6 9 g5 Ng8 didn’t seem too bad for Black before he became too passive in Erigaisi, A - Lenderman, A.

The London System: 3...c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 Nh5 [D02]

I could hardly not give some coverage to 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 Bf4 when 3...c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 Nh5!? remains quite topical, as then does 6 dxc5 Nxf4 7 exf4 g6 8 c3:

Here I suspect that 8...Bg7 9 Bb5!? may well be quite critical, and there’s also 8...Bh6!?, as we’ll see in Maghsoodloo, P - Esipenko, A.

The Colle: 3...c6 4 Bd3 Bg4 [D04]

One solid line for Black after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 e3 is 3...c6 when I suggested 4 Nbd2!? on The Killer Colle-Zukertort System. There’s also simply 4 Bd3 Bg4 5 Nbd2 e6 6 b3 Nbd7 7 Bb2 Be7 8 c4!, a position which usually comes about via a Colle, not Slav move order:

Vladimir Kramnik recently found himself on the white side and gave a masterclass after 8...0-0 9 Qc2 Rc8?! 10 c5! in Kramnik, V - Pham, K.

Let’s hope we have plenty more instructive games to enjoy next month too!

Until then, Richard

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