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The eyes of the chess world have, of course, been on Baku for pretty much the past month and we have something of a World Cup special to enjoy, featuring some of its leading stars, not least Magnus Carlsen and the home hero Nijat Abasov, who has, at the time of writing, only just been eliminated in narrow fashion by Carlsen. Look out especially for a few important lines of the London, as well as something of a Barry masterclass from Matthias Bluebaum

Download PGN of August ’23 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Trompowsky: 2...Ne4 3 Bf4 d5 4 f3 [A45]

I wasn’t surprised to seeing Arjun Erigaisi meeting 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4 d5 with 4 f3!?, considering his like of Jobava-Prié structures in general, and after 4...Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 e4 e6 7 Qd2!? White may be slightly for choice:

7...b5 8 e5! took play into a closed centre French scenario in Erigaisi, A - Azarov, S, which became quite a wild and dramatic miniature.

The Trompowsky: 2...d5 3 Bxf6 gxf6 4 c4 c6 5 e3 e5 [D00]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 d5 3 e3 c6 White pretty much has to exchange if he wants to fight for the advantage and 4 Bxf6 gxf6 5 c4 e5!? was quite ambitious from Black in Abasov, N - Makoto, R.

After 6 Nc3 Be6 7 cxd5 cxd5 rather than Abasov’s 8 Nf3, 8 Bb5+ followed by Nge2 feels more natural to me and should promise White an edge.

The London: 2...g6 3 Nf3 Bg7 4 e3 0-0 5 h3 d6 6 c3 b6 [A48]

1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 b6!? received some attention at the World Cup and after 3 e3 Bb7 4 Nf3 Black has a choice of set-ups: 4...e6, 4...g6 or even 4...Nh5!? 5 Bg5 h6 when Stockfish points out that the remarkable 6 h4!? may be possible. 4...g6 and then 5 h3 Bg7 6 Be2 0-0 7 0-0 d6 8 Bh2 Nbd7 9 a4 a6 10 c3 c5 11 Nbd2 saw play reaching something of a tabiya in Henriquez Villagra, C - Ivanchuk, V.

In true reversed Reti fashion Ivanchuk opted for 11...Ra7!? 12 Re1 Qa8, which should be fully viable so long as Black then meets 13 Bf1 with the thematic 13...Ne4 and not the game’s 13...Rb8 14 c4!.

The London: 2...b6 3 Nc3 Bb7 4 f3 [A45]

When surprised by 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 b6 in Gukesh, D - Carlsen, M, the rising Indian star was quick to counter in Jobava-Prié fashion with 3 Nc3 Bb7 4 f3:

Here 4...d5 5 e4!? is a decent gambit and Carlsen preferred the more restrained 4...e6 5 e4 a6, going on to equalise ahead of winning an instructive endgame.

The London: 2...Nf6 3 Nf3 e6 4 e3 c5 5 Nbd2 Nc6 6 c3 cxd4 7 exd4 Nh5 [D02]

Meeting 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 Bf4 with 3...c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 e6 6 c3 cxd4 7 exd4 Nh5 remains quite topical and here 8 Be3 Bd6 9 Ne5 Nf6 10 f4 is still a fairly important line:

In Ivanisevic, I - Le Quang Liem Black followed in Fabiano Caruana’s shoes with 10...Qb6!?, ahead of winning a most unbalanced encounter in powerful fashion.

The London: 2...Nf6 3 Nf3 e6 4 e3 c5 5 Nbd2 Nc6 6 c3 Be7 [D02]

The idea of following up 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 Bf4 c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 e6 6 Bd3 Be7 7 h3 with 7...Bd6!? may seem a little strange, but the point is that White can no longer really retreat to g3.

As such, 8 dxc5 Bxc5 9 Bd3 is critical when Black should find himself solidly placed, but became too ambitious in Abasov, N - Vidit, SG, won by White in dominating fashion.

The Barry Attack: 4...Bg7 5 e3 0-0 6 Be2 c5 7 0-0 [D00]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Bf4 Bg7 5 e3 0-0 6 Be2 c5 a soon-to-be-released Chessable course will apparently be recommending 7 dxc5, but 7 0-0 cxd4 8 exd4 Nc6 9 Ne5 was preferred in Bluebaum, M - Paravyan, D.

After 9...Bf5 Black is pretty solidly placed, but probably shouldn’t meet 10 Re1 with 10...Ne4.

Will we have even more from the World Cup to enjoy next month too?

Until then, Richard

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