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After last month’s London special courtesy of the New in Chess Classic, it’s good to remind ourselves that White’s dark-squared bishop by no means goes to f4 in all our favourite d-pawn systems. At blitz, Vladislav Artemiev, Alireza Firouzja and Baadur Jobava are all still happy to wheel out the Trompowsky, and there are certainly some lively encounters to enjoy this month.

Download PGN of May ’21 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Torre: 2...e6 3 Bg5 c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nd2 b6 [A46]

Via a 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 e6 3 Nd2 c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nd2 move order, Artemiev, V - Jakubowski, K, reached Torre waters, whereupon Black opted for the rare 5...b6!?:

I suspect that White should aim to exploit this unusual move order with 6 Ne4, whereas 6 c3 quickly led to standard Torre fare if also an instructive enough white win in the game.

The Torre: 2...e6 3 Bg5 h6 4 Bh4 c5 5 e3 cxd4 6 exd4 Be7 [A46]

Not for the first time the world champion clashed with Artemiev after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bg5 h6 4 Bh4 c5 5 e3 cxd4 6 exd4 Be7 7 Nbd2 b6, preparing quite a popular and harmonious set-up as Black with 8 c3 Bb7 9 Bd3 d6:

White has a few different plans he can deploy here, with 10 0-0 Nbd7 11 Re1 0-0 the solid course of Artemiev, V - Carlsen, M, in which Black enjoyed the more comfortable side of a draw.

The Torre: 2...g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 d6 5 c3 h6 [A48]

Even leading Torre practitioners Artemiev and Kamsky can’t decide whether to meet 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 with 4 c3 or 4 Nbd2, and generally use both. Play can, of course, easily transpose, with 4 c3 d6 5 Nbd2 h6 6 Bh4 g5 7 Bg3 Nh5 8 e4 e6 9 Nc4 a critical line seen when the two clashed head-on.

Here Black absolutely must be prepared and go in for the brave 9...f5!, as Maxime Vachier-Lagrave has, since 9...Qe7?! 10 Nfd2 gave White a pleasant edge in Kamsky, G - Artemiev, V.

Trompowsky: 2...e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 [A45]

By no means everyone is countering 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 with 2...d5. These days 2...Ne4 may be relatively unusual at higher levels, but 2...e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 still has plenty of supporters. We’ll check out developments after both 5 c3 and 5 Nc3, with the latter and then 5...d6 6 Qd2 c6 7 f4 e5 8 dxe5 dxe5 seen in Firouzja, A - Jobava, B.

Over the years we’ve covered 9 f5 a fair bit, but while not demonstrating an advantage, the rising young star does show that 9 fxe5 is also not without its dangers for Black.

The Trompowsky: 2...d5 3 Bxf6 gxf6 4 c4 c5 [D00]

Former ChessPublishing columnist Aleksandr Fier has been happy enough to meet 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 d5 not with 3 e3, but 3 Bxf6 gxf6 4 c4 in recent months. After 4...c5 Eric liked to go 5 Nc3!? as White, but 5 cxd5 Qxd5 6 Nf3 cxd4 7 Nc3 Qa5 is also decent enough for the first player:

Here I would go 8 Nxd4 looking to get in a quick fianchetto as White, whereas 8 Qxd4!? quickly became extremely messy in Fier, A - Blomqvist, E.

The Trompowsky: 2...d5 3 e3 c5 4 Bxf6 exf6 [D00]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 d5 3 e3 c5 4 Bxf6 we’ve long grown used to seeing 4...gxf6, but a recent Candidate preferred 4...exf6 in the Mr Dodgy Invitational.

This is far from ridiculous, even if it does give White a choice of a few set-ups. The direct 5 Bb5+ Nc6 6 Ne2 was selected in Jobava, B - Grischuk, A, where 6...a6!? was already a novelty.

The London: 2...Nf6 3 Nf3 e6 4 e3 Bd6 [D02]

1 d4 d5 2 Bf4 Nf6 3 e3 e6 4 Nf3 Bd6 5 Bd3 0-0 6 Bg3 c5 can easily lead to the modern main line of the London:

However, 7 c3 Nc6 8 Nbd2 is by no means forced here and 7 Nbd2!? was seen in Praggnanandhaa, R - Tristan, L, where probably Black should have taken up the challenge with 7...c4!?.

Will there be more Londons again next month? Until then,


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