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A fairly high-profile update this month, as we feature three games from Wijk aan Zee and one from the current opening leg of the FIDE Grand Prix. Look out especially for some highly dangerous route one play from Vidit and how 5...Nh5!? is continuing to hold up for Black in the London.

Download PGN of February ’22 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 h4 c5 4 d5 [A45]

We begin, as so often, with 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 and see that Simon Williams is making hay with 2...Ne4 3 h4!?, as recommended on his latest Killer Tromp release. In a recent edition of Titled Tuesday, the Ginger GM must have been delighted to see 3...c5 4 d5 Qb6 5 Nd2 Nxg5 6 hxg5 Qxb2 appear:

Yes, this is a rather greedy choice by Black and after 7 g6! White was quickly doing extremely well in Williams, S - Bethke, R.

The Trompowsky, Vaganian Gambit: 2...c5 3 d5 Qb6 [A45]

It was fitting to see a Vaganian Gambit, 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 c5 3 d5 Qb6 4 Nc3 Qxb2 5 Bd2 Qb6 6 e4, appear in the Armenian Championship, less so Black winning. So what went wrong for White? Well, after 6...e5 7 f4 d6 the latest engines agree with Eric that White should begin to squeeze with 8 f5!. Instead, 8 Rb1 Qc7 9 fxe5?! dxe5 10 Nf3 a6 already looks quite pleasant for Black:

He even managed to get his queen’s knight around to d6 and won a surprisingly one-sided encounter in Petrosian, TL - Gabuzyan, H.

The Torre Attack: 2...g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 d5 [A48]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 the modern preference is for ...d6 and/or ...c5 set-ups, but in Brunello, S - Abdumalik, Z, the Kazakhstani GM makes a decent case for 4...d5 5 e3 Nbd7 6 Bd3 0-0 7 0-0 Re8:

This, of course, lines up ...e5 and you might remember 8 c3 e5 9 e4!? being topical a few years back. The men’s captain in Gibraltar’s Battle of the Sexes, though, preferred 8 Re1!?, countering in turn.

The Colle Anti-KID: 3 Nbd2 [A48]

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Nbd2 remains slightly in vogue with the elite and isn’t always met by 3...d5 or standard Pirc/Modern formations. Indeed, 3...Bg7 4 e4 0-0!? (4...d6 is certainly safer) 5 e5 Nh5 might already be said to be pretty ambitious from both sides:

Unfortunately for Black, after 6 g4! Nf4 7 Ne4 d5 8 Ng3 Ne6 9 Nf5! he never appeared to be able to equalise and was blown away in Vidit, S - Grandelius, N.

The London System: 2...g6 3 Bf4 d5 4 e3 Bg7 [D02]

It’s a rare choice after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 Bf4, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with 3...g6 when 4 e3 Bg7 5 Be2 0-0 6 Nbd2 c5 7 c3 saw White managing to make do without h2-h3 in Duda, JK - Caruana, F.

7...b6 8 Ne5 Nfd7 was all pretty sensible from both sides and now 9 h4!? was seen, soon leading to an edge for White before he was outplayed in a pretty complex middlegame.

The London System: 3...c5 4 Nf3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 [D02]

1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 d5 3 e3 c5 4 Nf3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 is very much a modern London move order from both sides. Black, of course, has a few options here, including 5...Nh5!?, as Dubov has utilised. However, in Dubov, D - Aronian, L, he found himself on the other side of the board, trying 6 Be5 e6 7 c4!:

This was pretty sensible and logical, but after 7...cxd4 8 cxd5 Qxd5! 9 Bc4 Qd8 Black remained both solid and all set to acquire the bishop-pair, with a comfortable game.

Another option in the modern non-...e6 tabiya is, of course, 5...Bg4 when 6 c3 e6 7 Qb3 is critical:

Here we’ve mainly focussed on 7...Qc8, which Boris Gelfand continues to uphold, but 7...Qb6 was preferred in Erigaisi, A - van Foreest, L.

Dare I say there may well be more Londons to enjoy next month?

Until then, Richard

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