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The Torre attack, used as an 'anti-Nimzo weapon', is the most 'obvious' opening of the section. Indeed, its introductory sequence appears so natural that every player would feel confident in playing it, without any particular knowledge. Conversely, its actual handling, full of subtleties played in the hope of getting something tangible out of the opening, is complex. Especially in the 3...c5 4.e3 alternative (4.c3 shall be examined in March) that we are going to deal with this month.

Download PGN of February '05 d-Pawn Specials games

Torre Attack [A46]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 c5 4.e3 h6!:

You have to 'ask the question' as early as possible. The fact that White has not opted for 4.c3 is a sign that he is not in a mood to give the opponent the pair of bishops in return for an ephemeral possession of the centre- 5...Qb6!? responding to the invitation to attack b2 is the tense way of meeting White's intentions.

Now after 5.Bh4 cxd4! is simple and good. Ensuring a pawn majority in the centre which is the main concern for White in the Torre attack. Black should not allow him to consolidate his d-pawn with c2-c3 which would permit White the important recapture towards the centre in case of ...c5xd4.

In one of the very first games played in this system, see the archives, World champion Lasker, although he eventually lost, was much better with Black against its inventor, Carlos Torre.

6.cxd4 brings us to the critical position of the Torre the characteristic of which is the black central majority and the possibility, if not obligation, to develop his queen's bishop onto the long diagonal:

In Game one, featuring the astronomical average ELO rating of 2763,5 Black decided to do this immediately with 6...b6, to which White reacted, not without a certain amount of opportunism, by 7.Bxf6!? Qxf6 8.g3 Which is apparently a new idea played not only to counter balance the action of Black's light-squared bishop on the long diagonal, but chiefly to control the recurrently sensitive f4 square.

There followed wild and intricate play with castling on opposite wings until the moment White optimistically sacrificed a piece, which had the merit of stopping outright any opposing counter play. Unfortunately for the imaginative Morozevich, however, the fantastic calculating power that Anand usually exhibits when attacking proved as efficient when he was forced to defend!

By transposition, Black played the more common 6...Be7 first in Game 2:

7.Nbd2 b6 8.Bd3 Bb7 reaches another important branch of the Torre, from this move order or others, where White, afraid of the manoeuvre ...Nf6-d5 whereby Black tries to profit from the weakness of the f4-square after the exchange of dark-squared bishops, first committed himself to: 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.c3 0-0 11.0-0 d6 12.Re1 Nd7 13.a4 a6:

Next, uninspired and under the impression of having nothing in the position, White proposed the exchange of bishops by 14.Be4?! to at least deprive the opponent of the bishop pair (14.Ne4 would nevertheless have been the correct idea with the plan Bc2, Qd3), and after this he had to face the always unpleasant minority attack but managed to keep some activity which his opponent, a pawn-up, underestimated:

as suddenly he could little to stop the fork on c6 in this position!

Almost the same opening scenario happened in Game 3 after a slightly different order of moves, 9.c3 d6 with White deferring the exchange on f6 while Black doing was doing the same with the address of his king. White was eventually happy when he saved the draw thanks to the naturally drawish tendency of the opposite-coloured bishops.

Trompowsky [A45]

The next two games are the continuation of last month's subject 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 4.d5:

In Game four Black played the unusual 4...Qa5+ 5.c3 Qb6?! (As if he had inverted the moves by mistake in comparison to 4...Qb6 5.Bc1 Qa5+ 6.c3) Then the possibility of playing 6.Nd2! emphasized the defect of this move order compared to the usual sequence as Black had to exchange on d2 by 6...Nxd2 in order to avoid Nc4, and after 7.Qxd2 d6 8.e4, somewhat behind in development, Black should have striven to maintain the position closed by way of 8...Nd7, but played 8...e5, when 9.dxe6 (ep!) Bxe6 created a crippling weakness on d6 which rapidly proved fatal after White combined it with Nf3-g5 and the attack on e6.

Game five saw 4...Qb6 5.Bc1 g6 6.f3 Nd6 7.e4 Bg7 8.Nc3 0-0 9.Nh3 f5 10.exf5 Nxf5 11.Ne4!:

After having analysed Adams-Gelfand last month, I thought that this line (5...g6 and 6...Nd6) was also critical for White. But then I fell on this game where this idea seems to breath new life into the white position. Afterwards, Black never managed to solve the problem of his backward e-pawn and was crushed.

By way of conclusion I am happy with this as it comfirms my first intuition that 5...Qa5+! (as in the Svildler and Kasparov productions) was the main problem for this provocative and offbeat 4.d5 variation.

The rest of the update is dedicated to the favourite Tromp sacrificial line 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 c5 3.d5 Qb6 4.Nc3 Qxb2 5.Bd2 Qb6 6.e4:

about which everything has been said, more or less, and the natural continuation is 6...d6 7.f4 e6 and it seems that Black, with a pawn in the pocket, has no specific problems of development. Well, it is not exactly the case after 8.Rb1 Qc7 9.Bb5+, a disruptive check I am starting to understand!

9...Bd7 This is the 'natural' move, compared to the 9...Nbd7 we discussed in September, that at first sight I would have reckoned to be the best. It is also the most 'aesthetic' move in the position (which is as efficient a way of finding 'candidate' moves as any...), thus it consequently should be the best, as GM Miodrag Todorcevic, former member of the Yugoslav team in the years of its splendour, once told me. Nonetheless, every rule has its exceptions...

So Game six continued 10.dxe6 fxe6 11.Bc4?! as if the bishop's check had only served to prevent Black from recapturing on e6 with the bishop which, as we saw, is clearly inferior to fxe6 in any case. Then Black emerged with a clear extra-tempo compared to a tense previously analysed game which helped a lot to 'digest' the material.

White correctly played 11.Bxd7 Nbxd7 in Game 7. It must be the idea behind the bishop's check to then try to take advantage of the weakness of the light squares in the enemy camp. This is exactly the way it went until White somehow missed a promising continuation and allowed the opponent to release the pressure before eventually cracking up in a dead drawn ending.

The important Game eight shows the apparently little known refutation of this system for Black in the form of 10.Qe2!:

An excellent move preparing the thematic thrust e4-e5, while increasing the domination on the light squares, which, as a result, allows us to estimate Black's 9th move as a dubious alternative since it more or less forces 10...a6 when White continues 11.Bxd7+ Qxd7 12.dxe6 fxe6 13.e5 dxe5 14.fxe5 Nd5 15.Nh3!:

I like this move! Thus, all the lines remain open and in addition to the square g5 this knight can go to f4 putting pressure on Black's e6 pawn. White got a crushing attack after 15...Nc6 16.0-0, which he concluded in a tactical festival.

Till next month! Eric Prié.