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The World n°2 has often varied his move order against the Torre. Possibly a sign that he was not so comfortable playing against the variation...

Still, the purpose of this month's update is to show that 3...h6 is more precise than the immediate 3...c5, that he played against Morozevich in Linares.

With this move order it entertains some narrow relations with the 2...e6 Tromp we will examine in the second part of the update.

Download PGN of April '05 d-Pawn Specials games

Torre Attack [A46]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 h6! 4.Bh4 c5 5.c3 cxd4 6.cxd4

Game one saw the poor 6...Bb4+ ?!. This move, which was provoked by the illusion of some black squared 'fragility' in White's queenside, reinforced by the abandon of the c1-h6 diagonal of his queen's bishop, is dubious and would also be without ...h6, Bh4 because White was not going to reply to it with the timorous retreat Bd2 anyway!

White replied with the good and simple 7.Nbd2 to which Black rejected the only consistent continuation 7...g5 8.Bg3 Ne4 9.a3 Nxg3 10.hxg3 Be7 and after 7...d5 played a similar position to Prie-Dumitrache last month, a tempo down, that proved very difficult to cope with.

Since 6...Qb6 7.Qc2 Nc6 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.e3 changes very little (a black pawn on h6 instead of h7) to what we analysed last month, Black checked 6...Qa5+ in Game 2 and Game 3:

In the first White replied with 7.Nc3 Ne4 (7...Bb4 8.Bxf6!?) 8.Qb3 Bb4 9.Rc1, but Black failed to find the strong equalizing idea 9...b6! intending 10.e3 Ba6 and, severely behind in development after some weakening moves where he attempted to play against the bishop on h4, succumbed to a blitz counterattack.

7.Nfd2! was therefore the move in the second one, demonstrating the main drawback of the black move order, without the bishop hanging on g5 anymore, of which the main idea is the recurrent 7...Ne4? 8.Qc2 winning.

Therefore the game continued 7...Nc6 8.e3 Be7 9.Nc3 a6? - after his action along the a5-e1 had been annihilated, Black 'forgot' to play a timely ...d7-d5 and allowed 10.Nc4 !, with very annoying effect.

To complete the demonstration, the next 2 games show that it is even possible for White (after the different introductory sequence 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 c5 4.c3 that we focused on last time) to play 4...h6 5.Bxf6!? Qxf6 6.e4:

And this is the reason why World leading Torre expert Mark Hebden always starts with 3.c3 awaiting 3...c5 (3...h6 4.Bh4 b6 is critical in this specific move order) 4.Bg5.

Play logically develops 6...cxd4 7.cxd4 Bb4+:

In the capital Game four White opted for 8.Nc3 with the continuation 8...Bxc3+! 9.bxc3 b6 10.Bd3 Bb7 11.0-0 0-0 12.Qe2 d6 13.Nd2 (White has to play actively otherwise he could rapidly get tied to the defence of the backward c-pawn. For precisely this reason he does not have a thousand plans in this position: either play a4-a5 to create a weakness in the opposing queenside or mount an attack against the king using the f-pawn.) 13...e5 14.Nb3 Nd7?! Instead Black should have played 14...Nc6! This the square for the knight and the whole point behind Black's idea to pressurize the d4 pawn and make it move forward, isolating the c3 pawn even more. Afterwards White managed to attack down the a-file and set a nice combination after a big blunder from Black when he was condemned to waiting in a position where White's only asset was, in fact, his space advantage.

Personally I would prefer to cover the check with 8.Nbd2 as in Game five which proved pretty effective after Black embarked on a suicidal pawn chase by 8...Qg6?! 9.Bd3 Qxg2? (When it was necessary to back down with 9...Nc6) 10.Rg1 Bxd2+ 11.Ke2! Qh3 12.Qxd2 0-0 13.e5! Practically winning by force. Black has no development to help his king.

This brings us back to 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 h6! 4.Bxf6 Qxf6 5.e4:

and this is strictly equivalent to a sub-line of the 2..e6 Tromp, after the normal sequence 3.e4 h6 4.Bxf6 Qxf6 5.Nf3, which has a sulphurous reputation for White.

This is why 5.Nc3 (preventing Black's last, but not avoiding the major concern of 5...Bb4) is the main line of the 2...e6 Tromp. 5...d6 is another, possibly better, alternative and we will examine this next month.

6.Nbd2 Qd8 was Black's response in Game six, 7.c3 c5? (8...Be7 followed by castles and only then ...c5 is the correct approach.) 8.exd5 Qxd5 9.Bc4 Qd8 10.Ne5 a6? (10...Nc6 to get rid of the advanced knight was the only move):

Somewhat surprisingly, here White could have obtained a winning attack after the brutal 11.Qh5 intending 11...Qc7 (or e7 or f6) 12.Bd3 with the lethal and unstoppable idea Nxf7 and Bg6! Instead, the ill-formed GM played the mechanical 11.0-0, but that was only the beginning of a comedy of errors that eventually led to his victory after having been 2 pawns down for absolutely nothing in a simple position!

Anand tried 6...g6 in Game Seven (just as in the semi-Slav Moscow variation, the idea of this move is to reserve the e7 square for the queen) and could have got into some trouble after the further 7.c3 Bg7 8.Bd3 0-0 9.0-0 Nd7 10.e5 (Black is ready to play ...c7-c5, so it is difficult to suggest another plan for White) 10...Qe7 11.h4 c5 12.Qe2 cxd4 13.cxd4 Rd8 14.a3 Nf8 15.h5 starting to weaken some white squares in the vicinity of the king. Anand's opponent, however, was then misled and allowed the Inidan genius to place a combination 'out of the blue' that he then conducted to a win with his usual tactical skill.

Trompowsky [A45]

The last 2 games are issued from the Trompowsky line 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 e6 3.e4:

A couple of weeks ago, an enthusiastic subscriber wrote to me in these terms:

"Like GM Peter Wells in his book I firmly believe that if 3. e4 is unplayable against the Tromp, the Tromp as a whole will be a lot less "scary" for Black."

I am sorry, this does not correspond to my experience and I cannot consider a move like 3.e4, sacrificing material (the pair of bishops) and forcing White to play dynamically at the very beginning of the game, to be good. At least is it not the way I like to play chess, putting all my eggs in one basket on move 3!

In addition, this goes against the prevalence of static factors in the modern game that the evolution of theory transmits. So I understand the people who have been put off from playing the Tromp after 2...e6 3.e4?! very well (and with compassion!)

There is no 'Tromp spirit'. It is a delusion in the world of a unique opening! With its subtleties and its completely different ways of handling the position according to Black's second move, but where the general rules of Chess do still apply.

3...h6 4.Bxf6 Qxf6 5.c3 should be met by 5...d5!:

This is the refutation of this line, which gained some popularity some years ago after a couple of nice wins from Top GM Vadim MILOV... Against other moves it is a different story, however: 5...c5 6.Nf3 would transpose into games 4,5, and 5...d6 6.Bd3 e5 is inferior because of 7.Ne2. Here is the concealed idea behind White's set-up that has done much for its absolutely unjustified flattering reputation. We have seen that it was quite difficult for him to develop any initiative without the help of his f-pawn. Now he will castle kingside and play f4 with some interesting perspectives.

So after 5...d5! White closed the position in Game eight by 6.e5 Qd8 7.Nf3 c5 8.dxc5 Bxc5. White's idea is to compensate the loss of the dark-squared bishop by making use of the d4 square for an allegedly strong knight. Actually, he never did and after a period of mutual humming and hawing, Black little-by-little conquered all the squares with the help of his dark-squared bishop.

White kept the tension in Game Nine with 6.Nd2 but then 6...c5! proved even stronger than in game 6. Following 7.Nf3 a6!? he missed the critical continuation 8.dxc5 Bxc5 9.exd5 exd5 10.Nb3, and instead played 8.Qb3?! when he got thrown off board after 8...cxd4 8.cxd4? Nc6! 9.exd5 exd5 10.Qxd5 Be6 11.Qe4 0-0-0 which practically wins the pawn back by force in addition to keeping all the gained advantages.

Till next month! Eric Prié.