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This month we shall complete our survey of the popular branch of the Tromp initiated by the Fressinet-Dominguez game with some minor - though not to be neglected - sub-lines, as well as literally starting to 'update' some other material in order to constitute a durable theoretical base (which was my plan when I took up the section...) for comprehensive progress.

Download PGN of December '04 d-Pawn Specials games

Trompowsky [A45]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 4.f3 Qa5+ 5.c3 Nf6 6.d5 e6:

In Informator 42, back in 1986, this move was a novelty which was even granted an exclamation mark! Since then we have seen that 6...Qb6, first driving White's dark-squared bishop from the b8-h2 diagonal, was probably better, see game 6.

There follows 7.e4 exd5 8.exd5 (and not 8.e5 because of 8...Nh5 hitting the bishop) and now 8...d6 as played in games 2-5 is normal:

(instead, in Game one Black played the somewhat suicidal 8...b5? in order to undermine the support of White's strong d5 pawn, by analogy with some other Benoni positions, but didn't even have time to understand what was going on after White's timely and thematic d5-d6!)

, and whereas the next two games saw the radical attempt 9.Qe2+?! which was met by 9...Be7! (The point of Black's strategy. It must have taken some analysis to check that ...d6 was not refuted by a simple check!) 10.Bxd6 (White asks 'to pay' to see, otherwise Black will simply castle followed by ...Re8.) 10...Nxd5 11.Qe5 Nc6!:

And this passed the first test in Game 2, as Black won the piece back following 12.Qxd5 Be6! 13.Qxc5 Qxc5 14.Bxc5 Bxc5 With more than sufficient compensation for the pawn considering White's gaping dark-squared holes and Black's advance in development which rapidly proved decisive.

With a similar idea, White tried to win a piece in Game 3 with first 11.Bxb8 Rxb8 and then the triple attack 12.Qe5:

But was brought down a peg or two after 12...Qb6!! both aiming at b2 whilst threatening ...Qe6 to swap off Queens, thus definitely burying White's 9th move check.

Although I can imagine the look on the unprepared OTB player's face when he suddenly finds out that he will lose material after White's 12th move, for having blindly trusted what was once 'unexplained' in the Informator, this pure masterpiece, which is close to perfection, was played by correspondence, and you yourself could just switch your engine on... to faithfully find every single move of this important theoretical game!

So 9.Qd2! is the most promising move and the one which Laurent Fressinet told me he had prepared for his game against Dominguez. White did not get anything in Game 4 after 9...Be7 10.c4 Qxd2+ 11.Kxd2 Nh5 12.Be3 f5 (Black has to play like this otherwise White will simply get a big space advantage and wonderful development with g4, Nc3, Bd3, Nge2, a4 if necessary.) 13.Nc3 Nd7! 14.Re1 Kf7 15.Nh3 Ne5! and quickly sued for peace.

However White improved in Game 5 with the Novelty 13.f4! implying conceding the black squared bishop in another scheme of development, 13...Nf6 14.Nc3 Ng4 15.Re1 Kf7 16.Nf3 Nxe3 17.Rxe3 Na6 but unfortunately did not sense "the critical moment" and the very interesting possibilities generated by his 13th move when he casually played 18.Bd3 authorizing Black to equalize right away with 18...Nc7, when 18.Nb5!! instead:

would have caused Black some serious trouble.

Game 6 shows why it is risky to mix two systems after the allegedly better 6...Qb6 7.Bc1 (As almost every experience I have seen in my chess practice of an early b2-b3, when the queen bishop was not to be developed on the long diagonal, have appeared to me far from encouraging...) 7...e6 8.e4!? An offbeat and highly tactical variation where White is ready to sacrifice his h-pawn and lose the right to castle in order to move the struggle onto the field of double-edged complications. 8...exd5 9.exd5 Bd6! This is the concern! Black takes advantage of the desertion of the capital b8-h2 diagonal by White to develop swiftly and aggressively. White then was not equal to his ambitions and soon lost himself in the maze of variations.

The critical position of the 2...g6/2...d6 Tromp system which, for Black, presents the advantage of not requiring any special theoretical knowledge as he invariably adopts the same development set-up, was reached in Game 7 after 12.Qd3 when he played precisely the only idea: 12...h5!:

This attack, fierce as it may be, should not work, for Black has to destroy his pawn structure to progress and the opponent's pieces' good positioning guarantees him counter-play and defending chances, but in this particular game it was nicely successful.

Two of my games on the 2...c5 3.dxc5 Tromp to finish with.

3...Na6 was Black's reaction, the best move as we saw some time ago, in Game eight. However, I countered with 4.Qd4!?:

This over the board improvisation was in fact widely inspired by the 3.Nc3 system that we studied in January, where, nothing has happened since then to make me change my evaluation of the position as unconvincing, for the least, after 3...Qb6!?

The game continued 4...e6 5.Nc3! (A Novelty, on move 5 this time! In the only other game with 4.Qd4, White played the insipid 5.e3) 5...Bxc5 6.Qh4. Here, Black is 'a tempo ahead'. But if you consider that it was used to 'develop' his queen's knight to the edge of the board when 2 moves are required to recycle it onto its natural square, c6; or to develop his king bishop to c5 when it will have to retreat to e7, this clearly does not favour him. As a result, he was completely outplayed after 6...Qb6 7.Bxf6 gxf6 8.0-0-0 Be7 9.e3 and only saved himself thanks to my later frailty in one of my bitterest defeats ever.

As a reminder of the November 2003 update, Black opted for the "natural" but wrong, 3...Qa5+? in Game nine. In every case this is clearly worse than the 2..Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 4.f3 Nf6 5.dxc5 Qa5+ 6.Qd2 Qxc5 line that we examined last month. Indeed there is a big difference: White's dark-squared bishop exerts stronger pressure on the opponent's position and development, making, for instance, the ...g7-g6 move almost impossible because of the exchange on f6, from his natural Tromp placing rather than from a substituted London location. (If my novelty featured in the previous game is really something 'big', White's 3rd move option in the critical 2...c5 Tromp, then leaves Black with the sole choice 3...e6!)

Following 4.Qd2 Qxc5 5.Nc3 a6 6.e4 d6 7.0-0-0 Nc6 8.f4! there was the usual Richter-Rauzer stuff with extra tempi to which Black managed to survive only a couple of moves, admittedly only in a rapid play game.

Till next month! Eric Prié.