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This month’s update features games from two recent big events, the FIDE Grand Swiss in Riga and the European Team Championship in Slovenia. Look out for how Jeffery Xiong almost makes the London look like a forced win, as well as developments in the Trompowsky and the Jobava-Prié Attack.

Download PGN of November ’21 d-Pawn Specials games

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

I’m uncertain if Krikor Mekhitarian is a subscriber or a fan of Ginger GM, but he tried 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 h4!? three times in a recent Titled Tuesday event, the same line as advocated on the new The Killer Tromp, presented by Simon Williams himself and which features a special contribution from Julian Hodgson no less. All of Mekhitarian’s opponents plumped for the solid 3...d5, but after 4 Nd2 they avoided the main line:

Normal would be 4...Bf5 and White shouldn’t fear the alternatives, as we’ll see in Mekhitarian, K - Lavrov, M, where 4...h6 5 Nxe4 dxe4 6 Bf4 Nc6?! 7 e3 quickly left White with a sizeable advantage.

The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 6 Nd2 [A45]

We haven’t considered 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 6 Nd2 cxd4 7 Nb3 for a while, so I’ve taken the chance of correcting that state of affairs with Uruci, E - Nyysti, S, where Black went in for a solid set-up with 7...Qd8 8 cxd4 d5 9 e3 e6:

It may not equalise, however, or at least I quite like White’s set-up after 10 Rc1 Bb4+ 11 Kf2, but perhaps he shouldn’t then rush with g2-g4, as we’ll see, and certainly Uruci’s king landed up in huge trouble after some fine play from Nyysti.

Barry Attack: 4...Bg7 5 Nb5

We have a modern move order with 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Nb5 Na6 5 e3 Bg7 (1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Bf4 Bg7 5 Nb5 Na6 would be the traditional Barry route to the position) 6 Nf3 0-0 7 h3:

Here 7...Ne4!? still looks quite critical to me, as we’ll see, although Bartel, M - Adhiban, B makes a decent enough case for the solid 7...c6.

Jobava-Prié Attack: 3...g6 4 e3 a6 [D00]

White again begins with the modern London route in De Seroux, C - Lubbe, M, namely 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 e3, only for Black to avoid 4...Bg7 in favour of 4...a6. Here I still quite like the bold 5 h4 Bg7 6 h5!?, but 5 Be2 Bg7 6 h4 is preferred in the game and then 6...c5 7 dxc5 Qa5 8 Qd2 Qxc5 9 0-0-0! 0-0!?:

The resulting play isn’t perfect, but is quite instructive for showing how both sides should aim to handle these sharp opposite-side castling situations.

Jobava-Prié Attack: 3...Bf5 4 f3 [D00]

Grigory Oparin had an excellent result at the FIDE Grand Swiss, tying for second, but didn’t do so well in the subsequent Lindores Abbey Tal Memorial blitz event, despite trying 1 d4 d5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Bf4 Bf5 (we’ll also explore this month developments after 3...e6) 4 f3 e6 5 g4 Bg6 6 h4 h5 7 g5 Nfd7 8 e3:

White initially scored quite well in such positions, but nowadays Black rarely falls for allowing a strong clamp on the position after 8...c5? 9 Nb5. The best response is probably 8...Bb4!, as played of late by Nils Grandelius, and Oparin, G - Stefanova, A makes a decent case for the preliminary 8...a6.

London System: 3...Bf5 4 c4 [D02]

Quite a trendy line in 2021 has been 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Bf4 Bf5, which even received a few tests in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. White has generally responded with the critical 4 c4, after which we’ll consider both 4...e6 and Black’s alternatives to that in Xiong, J - Abasov, N.

There 5 Qb3 Nbd7 6 Nc3 Bd6 7 Bxd6 cxd6 wasn’t overly impressive and Black found himself a pawn down and pretty much lost after just 16 moves. As such, I suspect that either Nakamura’s 5...Nc6 6 Nbd2 Be7!? or Giri’s 5...dxc4!? 6 Qxb7 Be4 is a better try.

Here White also has 5 Nc3, the regular choice of Matthias Bluebaum and Gata Kamsky, but 5...Bb4 6 cxd5 Nxd5!? 7 Bd2 0-0 didn’t seem especially impressive for White in Kamsky, G - Postny, E.

Will we see any Londons in the world championship match? We’ll soon know!

Until next month, Richard

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