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We catch up this month with the champ’s latest adventures in one of his favourite speed weapons, the London System. Keep an eye out for some critical early ...Qb6 lines from Black, as well as some rather fun games, not least Nyzhnyk-Pantsulaia.

Download PGN of September ’20 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 h4 Nxg5 4 hxg5 [A45]

We begin by noting that 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 h4 remains at the very least a decent weapon for rapid and blitz. It’s attracted the attention of the young Belgian IM Daniel Dardha of late, whose games we’ll see after 3...c5 4 dxc5 and 3...h6. Instead, 3...Nxg5 4 hxg5 e5?! does tempt some opponents at faster time controls.

The problem is that 5 dxe5 Qxg5 6 Nf3 is just quite pleasant for White, rather than the thematic but somewhat less effective 5 g6?! of Ivanisevic, I - Balla, T.

The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 6 d5 d6 [A45]

If Ivanisevic-Balla was far from plain sailing for the rating favourite, I’m not sure how best to describe Fedoseev, V - Lu, J. Admittedly 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 6 d5 d6 7 e4 g6 8 Na3 Bg7 9 Nc4 Qc7 10 a4 looked like a pleasant edge for White:

However, the decision to prioritise activity over kingside development might well have come back to haunt the strong Russian GM before a sudden turnaround.

The London: 2...c5 3 dxc5 [A45]

Meeting 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 c5 with 3 dxc5 remains quite topical, although after 3...Na6 White has been shunning Sam Shankland’s 4 f3!? for 4 Nc3 Nxc5 5 f3:

This quickly led to an unusual type of Dragon after 5...Ne6 6 Bg3 g6 7 Qd2 h5!? 8 e4 Bh6 in Nyzhnyk, I - Pantsulaia, L, where White would go on to record an impressive win.

The London: 2...g6 3 Nf3 Bg7 4 e3 [A48]

We begin our Carlsen Masterclass after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bf4 Bg7 4 e3 0-0 5 Be2 d6 6 0-0 Nh5!? 7 Bg5 h6 8 Bh4 g5 9 Nfd2! with Carlsen, M - Nepomniachtchi, I.

Here Black simply went back with 9...Nf6!?, which may not be too bad for him, although Nepo was soon tempted to over-expand after which he was brutally punished by the champ.

Carlsen, M - Ding Liren deviated with 6 h3 c5 when Carlsen himself has shown before before that 7 0-0 is correct, not 7 Nbd2?! cxd4 8 exd4 Nc6 9 c3 e5!:

Already Black has seized the initiative and Carlsen was to be completely outplayed, only not losing as Ding needed but a draw in this Armageddon encounter.

The London: 2...Nf6 3 Nf3 c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 [D02]

Ding also tried 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 on a number of occasions against Carlsen, including the sharp and critical line 3 Bf4 c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 Qb6:

After 6 dxc5 Qxb2 7 Rb1 Qc3 8 Bb5 g6 the jury remains out, but Carlsen did find an instructive exchange sacrifice and ways to press before going in for a repetition in Carlsen, M - Ding Liren.

The London: 3 Nf3 c5 4 e3 Qb6 [D02]

Another fairly critical line is 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 Bf4 c5 4 e3 Qb6, which was twice seen in that epic, seven-day duel, Carlsen-Nakamura. On the second occasion 5 c4!? appeared to catch Nakamura out, Carlsen having earlier preferred 5 Nc3 Bd7 when 6 Rb1 was a little meek:

Instead, I wouldn’t be surprised if we soon see some tests after Carlsen, M - Nakamura, H, of 6 dxc5!?, and if 6...Qxb2 7 Nb5! Bxb5 8 Qd4.

Will we already have to returned to this unexplored and unbalanced position next month?

Until then, Richard

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