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We examine a number of very topical lines this month; arguably even more than normal. Fans of attacking play will enjoy two of our rather direct Trompowsky encounters, although elsewhere Black seems to be solid enough. Do enjoy too a guest contribution from Chris Ward, unless you’re a Veresov adherent that is!

Download PGN of September ’18 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 Nf6 [A45]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 we’re used to Black throwing in 4...Qa5+, but 4...Nf6 has received a fair bit of attention of late. I’m not totally sure why, though, as 5 d5 (5 dxc5 is a decent alternative) 5...g6 6 Nc3 d6 7 e4 Bg7 8 Qd2 still feels quite promising, as well as easy for White to play:

Black doesn’t have to castle into the attack, but in any case he is liable to find himself low on counterplay, as ...e6 never seems to turn out well, as we’ll see in Rasulov, V - Angun, B.

The Trompowsky: 2...c5 3 d5 Ne4 [A45]

When White meets 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 c5 with 3 d5 he is usually already salivating about a Vaganian Gambit, but, of course, Black doesn’t have to go 3...Qb6 and 3...Ne4 4 Bf4 Qb6 5 Bc1 e6 continues to hold up well enough:

A good response to 6 e4 remains 6...Qa5+ 7 c3 Nf6 8 e4 d6 and this particular Benoni structure shouldn’t hold any real fears for the second player. Currently the main exponent of the black cause is the strong Russian Grandmaster Sanan Sjugirov, who shows the way to go in Mchedlishvili, M - Sjugirov, S.

The Trompowsky: 2...e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 c3 [A45]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 c3 a few games have caught my eye of late, as we’ll see. Our main encounter features 5...d6 6 Bd3 e5 7 Ne2 Qd8!?, an idea of Anish Giri’s from 2014 which hasn’t been too trendy of late:

Following 8 0-0 Be7 9 f4 0-0 10 Nd2 Nd7!? White can be happy to see the unopposed bishop on e7, not g7, but in any case Black may have sufficient counterplay, despite the brutal course of Romanov, E - Rozum, I.

The Torre Attack: 3...d5 4 e3 Be7 [D03]

I never used to believe that strong players any longer met 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bg5 with 3...d5, but playing without ...c5 is a very solid approach, i.e. 4 e3 Be7 (we also take a decent look at recent developments after 4...c5) 5 Nbd2 Nbd7 6 Bd3 b6 7 c3 (7 Ne5 is the alternative) 7...Bb7 8 0-0 0-0:

White tried 9 b4!? in Andreikin, D - Oparin, G, but after 9...h6 10 Bf4 c5 Black was able to achieve a fairly comfortable draw against the future Russian Champion.

The Neo-London: 2...c5 3 e3 Qb6 [A45]

Levon Aronian scored 4-0 from the position after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 c5 3 e3 in his recent speed match with Anish Giri. However, with more time available I suspect that the Dutch no.1 would have done much better after 3...Qb6:

Aronian’s risky choice was 4 Nc3 Qxb2 5 Nge2!? (5 Nb5 Nd5 can lead to a well-known draw), while we’ll see Black the side trying to play for a win after 4 Na3 d6!? in Moreno Ruiz, J - Salgado Lopez, I.

The Jobava-Prié Attack: 2...g6 3 Nc3 d5 [D00]

One of the most topical of all London lines remains 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 e3 Bg7 5 h4 when Black has tended to keep things tight at the back and go 5...h5 of late. After 6 Nf3 we’re officially back in the realm of the Barry Attack, although this position rarely occurs via a pure Barry move order. Here 6...0-0 7 Qd2 c5 8 Ne5 Nc6 9 f3 was tried in Kravtsiv, M - Salem, S:

Can you guess how Black equalised here? 9...Nfd7! is perhaps not so hard to find, but after 10 Nxd5 cxd4 11 exd4 I’ll have to award full marks if you spotted Salem’s 11...Nb8!.

The Barry Attack: 4...Bg7 5 Nb5 [D00]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Bf4 Bg7 White has neither been going 5 e3 nor 5 h4 in grandmaster practice of late, but rather 5 Nb5!? Na6 6 e3 c6 7 Nc3:

Black now faces quite a wide choice between 7...Nc7, 7...0-0 and even 7...Nb8!?. The first of those and then 8 h3 0-0 9 Be2 Nce8 was rock-solid for him in Sedlak, N - Strikovic, A.

The Veresov Attack: 3...Nbd7 4 Nf3 e6 [D01]

We learn this month that our Dragon expert, Chris Ward, isn’t a huge fan of 1 d4 d5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Bg5. He certainly makes 3...Nbd7 4 Nf3 e6 5 e3 c5 simply look very pleasant for Black in Pollack, O - Ward, C.

White has tried a few different approaches here, but I too can’t see anything especially scary for Black, which is likely why 4 Qd3 is the modern main line of the Veresov.

We should have plenty of action from the Olympiad to enjoy next month.

Until then, Richard

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