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This month's update is mainly dedicated to a strategical scheme in the 'd-Pawn Specials' sphere which generally occurs from a Torre move order.

The characteristics are: for White, his dark-squared bishop is out on g5, his queen's knight on d2 and pawns on c3, e3 (e.g. a Colle but with the queen's bishop much better developed ... outside of the pawn chain!) and for Black: his king's knight on f6 and pawns on d5 and e6 but with his queen's bishop inside the pawn chain. It can often become an improved Stonewall Attack, should White play a later f4.

Download PGN of May '05 d-Pawn Specials games

If you add-up all the possible transpositions, this is the biggest part of this section in terms of the number of games. Some knowledge of these positions can also be extremely useful when adopting the same efficient set-up with colours reversed, in order to combat all sorts of non-mainstream white openings (including, specifically, the Colle 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 Bg4! or 3...c6 intending Bg4) when the latter locks his queen's bishop in with e3.

London System [D00]

The first 2 games feature the original system which arises after 1.d4 d5 (Most titled 'd-Pawn Special' players continue here with the most promising move which is 2.c4 (or 2.Nf3 3.c4) of course. Indeed, it is quite hard to find anything else in the same spirit, that is as satisfactory, bearing in mind the black capacity to adapt after 1...d5.) 2.c3!?:

If White wants to develop his queen's bishop outside the pawn chain, this move can prove a useful precaution, the idea is to play a Torre or London while dissuading Black from reacting with an early ...c7-c5.

Incidentally, I advise my novice pupils to simply get their pieces out and let their 'talent' express itself, which is possible only with a good position, and, by the way, I also urge all of them to play 1...d5 against 1.d4 or 1.Nf3.

In the first game Black correctly adopted a copy-cat policy with 2...c6, which immediately shows the limit of White's idea - the lost flexibility with his c-pawn means he is unable to break the symmetry. Still, the 'dullish' equal position White obtained was in no way worse than the one he could have had after Bf4 c5!, say, without the prophylactic c2-c3, and he eventually managed to throw his opponent off balance and outplay him.

Trompowsky [A45]

In Game 2 Black opted for 2...Nf6 3.Bg5, basically leading to the same problem of unavoidable symmetry after 3...Ne4! Bf4 4.c6 Nd2 Bf5= Instead, 3...e6 allowed White to play a perfect Stonewall, taking advantage of the developing flexibility of his king's knight, after the opponent's careless sequence, by 4.Nd2 Be7 5.e3 0-0?! 6.Bd3 Nbd7 7.f4!:

which is a lot stronger when Black castles kingside as the target is identified.

The next three games present the same idea of transposing to a Stonewall formation from a 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 e6 Trompowsky by 3.Nd2 d5 (We have seen some months ago in the game Prié-Philippe that 3...h6 4.Bh4 c5 5.e3 cxd4! 6.exd4 Be7 was the problem for White's 3rd move.) 4.e3 Nbd7 5.f4 c5 6.c3 (this position can be reached by other move orders):

In Game 3 Black tried to create some activity against the sensitive e3 point, by way of ...Ng4, and the thematic ...h6 Bh4 g5. Of course, this failed because of the state of demobilization of her queenside, and her king was slaughtered in the centre.

White also obtained a wonderful position in Game four after 6...Be7 7.Bd3 b6 8.Nf3 Bb7 9.Ne5 a6 10 0-0 Qc7, when he should have played 11.a4! leading to some big problems for the opponent.

Black showed better understanding of the unusual white set-up in Game five by 7...Qc7 8.Ngf3 c4!? 9.Bc2 b5:

Still, with the prophylactic 10.a3 Bb7 11.Ne5 Nb6 12.Qf3!, keeping control of e4, White could have seriously annoyed his opponent.

Alas, he allowed the e4 square blockade - a Stonewall concern- with ...Ne4 and succumbed in the end to the syndrome of the 'bad good' bishop.

Torre Attack [A46]

After these mixed successes with the Stonewall formation, and being duly aware of its pros and cons through thorough analysis, White returned to a more steady development system in Game six, starting rather uncommonly with 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 d5 3.Nd2!? e6 (3...c5 being the critical line) 4.e3 Be7 5.c3 Nbd7 6.Nf3 (instead of f4) 6...c5 7.Bd3 0-0 (Once again giving the address of the king too soon) 8.Ne5!:

Ready to support the knight with f2-f4 after Black has already committed himself to castling kingside! the game continued 8...Nxe5 9.dxe5 Nd7 10.Bf4! Keeping the attacking bishop which eventually delivered the final blow a few moves later.

By transposition from a normal Torre (where the question of the Stonewall setup was therefore irrelevant because of the development of White's king's knight to f3 on move 2) Black improved in Game Seven with 7...b6, instead of the risky short castles, but still after 8.Ne5! Nxe5 9.dxe5 Nd7 10.Bxe7 (10.Bf4? would be a serious mistake this time because of 10...Qc7 and if 11.Qg4? g5! Winning a piece.) 10...Qe7 11.f4 put his king on g8, 11...0-0 12.Nf3! f5? (An automatic move, probably provoked by the fear of a later Bh7+ and Ng5+ which will prove to be a big mistake. In all these lines the critical idea is that Black should attack the point of the opposing pawn chain with 12...f6) 13.Rg1!!:

And as incredible as it may appear, Black was utterly crushed without finding a way of stopping this blunt attack, too rudimentary to be true!

The critical position of the system with Nbd7 was reached in Game eight after 11...0-0-0 12.Nf3 where Black imprudently continued 12...f6 (missed the critical 12...g5!) and after 13.Bb5! was already in trouble, there followed 13...Kb8 14.a4 a5 15.b4! blowing up his king's protection.

  • London System
  • Trompowsky
  • Torre Attack

  • Till next month! Eric Prié.