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The Isle of Man might be known for its tail-less cats, but it also, of course, has just finished hosting a monstrously strong Grand Swiss tournament. I was delighted to see the London appearing in several games set against the backdrop of some lush Manx countryside and those encounters form the backbone of this month’s update.

Download PGN of October ’19 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky: 2...g6 3 Bxf6 exf6 4 c4 d5 [A45]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 g6 3 Bxf6 exf6 4 c4 Black is by no means committed to a kingside fianchetto and 4...d5 is likely his most critical choice. Here 5 e3 dxc4 6 Bxc4 Bd6 7 Nc3 0-0 8 Nf3 was all fairly thematic in Zhang Zhong - Amin, B:

Black might now set up with 8...c6 9 0-0 f5, but the more creative 8...a6!? also turned out well enough in the game before Black became too ambitious and was put to the sacrificial sword.

The London: 2 Bf4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 e3 Bg7 5 h4 [A45]

That direct modern line 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 e3 Bg7 5 h4 just won’t go away. 5...h5 6 Nf3 0-0 7 Ne5 c6 8 Be2 was all quite Barry-like in Nihal, S - Nebolsina, V:

Now Black should prefer the routine 8...Nbd7, since 8...Nfd7?! 9 g4! gave White a strong early initiative.

The London: 2 Bf4 c5 [A45]

Arguably the critical test of a 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 move order is 2...c5, as deployed by Fabiano Caruana no less.

After 3 e3 Qb6 4 Nc3 the world no.2 avoided capturing on b2 which can easily lead to an early repetition, preferring 4...cxd4 in Zhang Zhong - Caruana, F, where 5 Qxd4?! wasn’t too impressive a recapture.

Of White’s alternatives, 3 dxc5 has lost a fair degree of popularity, as we’ll see in the lively encounter Repka, C - Fedorchuk, S, but there’s also the even more unbalancing 3 d5.

The London: 2...g6 3 Bf4 Bg7 4 c3 d6 [A48]

Following 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bf4 Bg7 we have developments after both 4 c3 and 4 e3 to consider this month. The former can easily transpose to the latter, but 4...d6 5 Nbd2 0-0 6 e4!? gave play a unique twist in Kamsky, G - Erdos, V:

Gata Kamsky is, of course, a major expert on both the London and the Torre, but after 6...Nbd7 7 Be2 Qe8 8 0-0 e5 his set-up didn’t particularly impress and White soon found himself a tempo down on a line of the Torre.

The London: 3...e6 4 e3 Bd6 5 Bg3 0-0 [D02]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bf4 d5 4 e3 Bd6 5 Bg3 0-0 White usually develops with 6 Nbd2, but he can also opt for less charted waters with the Queen’s Gambit-like 6 c4!?:

Such a position only occurs via a London move order and after 6...c5, 7 dxc5 was new for us in Berkes, F - Bjerre, J.

The London: 3...c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 c3 Qb6 [D02]

Ferenc Berkes likes the traditional London move order 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Bf4, but this does allow 3...c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 c3 Qb6:

Now 6 Qb3 is normal and while not overly promising, it is surely a better choice than 6 Qc2?! which quickly led to Black enjoying a pleasant edge in Berkes, F - Van Foreest, J.

Will the London remain as popular over the coming weeks as it was on the Isle of Man?

Until next time, Richard

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