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One notable feature of chess in late 2022 is the vast amount of blitz games played by many of the world elite. Just compare Alireza Firouzja’s ratio of online blitz to OTB action in recent weeks! Thankfully many of these blitz games are instructive, as well as entertaining, and we also have some action from the ever-strong Bundesliga to enjoy.

Download PGN of December ’22 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 h4 h6 [A45]

Blending aggression with surprise, as it does, 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 h4!? has been trendy enough in recent Titled Tuesdays. Then 3...h6 4 Bf4 c5 already reaches quite an important position:

Here 5 d5 is logical, as is 5 f3 which would probably still be my choice, but I’m not so keen on 5 dxc5, as we’ll see in Fier, A - Manelyuk, D, since here 5...d5! is quite a dangerous gambit.

The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 h4 c5 [A45]

Black’s other common reaction to 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 h4 is 3...c5 when I’ve always gone 4 d5, but plenty of other Trompowsky aficionados prefer 4 dxc5, angling for 4...Qa5+ (even here 4...d5!? is very much an option) 5 Nd2 Nxg5 6 hxg5 Qxc5 7 g6! fxg6 8 e3:

This thematic pawn sacrifice badly weakens Black’s queenside and White was quickly significantly on top in another game played by our former ChessPub colleague, Fier, A - Mikhalsky, V.

The Trompowsky: 2...e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 c3 d5 [A45]

With the solid 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 c3 d5 6 Nd2 Qd8!? Fabiano Caruana arguably dodged any critical preparation in Erigaisi, A - Caruana, F. Play proceeded logically with 7 Ngf3 Be7 8 Bd3 Nd7 9 Qe2:

It’s easy to like White’s aggressive set-up, but Black may not be doing too badly after 9...c5!?. Instead, 9...c6?! 10 h4!? was rather passive for Black in the game, which quickly caught fire and was extremely unclear when Caruana cruelly blundered.

The Trompowsky: 2...d5 3 e3 c5 4 Bxf6 gx6 5 dxc5 [D00]

Alireza Firouzja has played a lot of blitz of late and a lot of games with 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5. After 2...d5 he has been quite happy to debate the key modern line that is 3 e3 c5 4 Bxf6 gxf6 5 dxc5 e6 6 c4 dxc4 7 Nd2 c3 8 bxc3:

We’ll see a few of his games here this month, including with 8...Bxc5 9 Qh5 and especially 8...Nd7 9 c6 bxc6 10 Ngf3. This shouldn’t be too tricky for Black to face, but gradually untangling isn’t so easy at blitz and Black would badly slip when still fully equal in Firouzja, A - Svane, R.

The London: 2...c5 3 e3 Nc6 4 c3 Qb6 5 Qb3 [D00]

It feels a rather long time since Eric Prié analysed after the fairly critical 1 d4 d5 2 Bf4 c5 3 e3 Nc6 4 c3 the gambit that is 4...Qb6 5 Qb3 c4 6 Qc2 e5!:

It’s finally taken off, Eric’s analysis is largely and unsurprisingly holding up, and 7 Bxe5 Bf5 8 Qc1 Nxe5 9 dxe5 should probably be met by 9...f6! rather than the 9...0-0-0 of Kamsky, G - Pavlidis, A, where White was rather fortunate to escape with half a point.

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

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bf4 d5 4 e3 Bd6 White doesn’t have to go 5 Bg3, with 5 Ne5!? 0-0 6 Nd2 c5 7 c3 Nc6 8 Bd3 an aggressive alternative:

Black should now increase the pressure with 8...Qc7! when 9 Ndf3 h6!? seemed fine for him in Buckels, V - Edouard, R.

The Colle: 3...c5 4 dxc5 e6 [D04]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 e3 we have to pause and reflect that the hitherto almost unknown 3...a6!? has now been deployed, and by the world champion no less. We’ll also take a look this month at 3...c5 4 dxc5 e6:

Here 5 b4!? a5 6 c3 is the fun and arguably critical way to play, 5 a3 Bxc5 6 b4 followed by c2-c4 somewhat more positional and safe, as in Demidov, M - Lysyj, I.

Do enjoy following Hastings as well as the World Rapid and Blitz over any upcoming holidays!

Happy Christmas! Richard

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