1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 d5:
This move «has managed to acquire a very solid reputation despite permitting White to see through his intention of exchanging on f6 and inflicting doubled pawns. Indeed, I come into contact every now and again with an apparent school of thought among Russian players that this is simply "the equalizing line" against the Trompowsky. In my opinion the respect afforded to this move is well deserved, but at the same time the idea that White can scarcely hope to play for the advantage is a considerable overstatement» writes GM Peter Wells in his book Winning with the Trompowsky edited by Batsford in 2003.
It is not an overstatement.
It is true that the Tromp is presently in a complete crisis in all the lines involving a dynamic approach (as opposed to the static i.e. long lasting positional factors) typical of a certain English school of thought as reflected in both this update and the previous one on 2 fundamental chapters of the book.
2...d5 however may not be the most ticklish reply but it actually means that White has to face the danger of seeing Black ideally adapt to whatever he undertakes because of the unstable and premature sortie of the queen's bishop, much as he does so successfully with 1...d5! against the Pseudo-Bishop's attack, the Neo-London 2.Bf4 D00, The Veresov 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 D01, the classical London 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4 D02, and finally the 1...d5 Torre 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bg5 D03 without talking of the Colle 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 D04 although this one does not imply the development of the Bc1 out of the pawn chain.
Fortunately there is 3.e3!, which does not make any concessions... for the moment. Indeed, what to do if Black reacts with 3...c5 continuing to ignore the 'threat' of the exchange on f6 (contrary to January's update that focused on 3...Ne4!?) 4.Bxf6 (I have the biggest doubts about deliberately giving up the little exchange even in return for doubling the pawns...) 4...gxf6:
If ever this was the point of delaying the exchange for one move with 3.e3 then at least is it difficult for Black to take back with the e-pawn because of the isolani after 4...exf6 5.dxc5 Bxc5 6.c3, giving White a great square on d4 for the queen's knight by Nd2-b3-d4 while the king's one should ideally head for f4.
So in Game One White counter-attacked the black centre with 5.c4 (About the only way to obtain an independent Tromp line.) 5...cxd4 6.exd4 (since the ending is what Black aims for in this line after 6.Qxd4 dxc4 7.Qxd8+ Kxd8 8.Bxc4 e6 preparing a safe square for the king on e7 after the f8-bishop goes out.) 6...Qb6! 7.Nc3 Qxb2 8.Nxd5 Bf5!:
forcing a seemingly pleasant ending for Black after 9.Qc1 Qxc1 10.Rxc1 Na6, because 9.Nc7+? Kd8 10.Nxa8 Bh6! With ...Bc2 next move unavoidably wins the White queen... just to start with.
The alternative 5.dxc5 is considered to be 'insipid' because Black is supposed «to reach a very comfortable position» after 5...e6 6.c4 dxc4! and that was indeed the case in Game 2 when White erroneously went for the ending by 7.Qxd8+?! Kxd8 8.Nc3 Bxc5 9.0-0-0+ Ke7 10.Bxc4 Bd7! 11.Nf3 Rc8 seizing the initiative.
However, some time ago I indicated 7.Qa4+!? instead (see the note), on the basis of a Stefanova game, as with the material disadvantage of the pair of bishops but with a more exposed enemy king White should, of course, strive to keep the queens on the board. We can also mention 6.Nc3 Bxc5 7.Qh5 or 7.Qg4 that transpose into the 3...c5 Veresov, see last month's Martinovic-Perunovic for a note about that.
Over protecting the d4-square represents the last chance of an alternative but it just leads to problems for White as diagnosed as far back as Autumn 2003 when studying the always annoying and critical 2...c5 Tromp, 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 c5 3.Bxf6 gxf6 4.e3 reaching exactly the same position as here after 4...d5. In Game 3 White did it with 5.c3, when 5.Nc3 again transposing into the 3...c5 Veresov must be preferable. Then Black could have profited from his order of moves with 5...Qb6!, titillating b2 without waiting, but still obtained good play after 5...Nc6.
When White takes on f6 immediately by 3.Bxf6, as advocated by Wells, who decided that there is «still enough bite in the White position» after this commitment, with Black interestingly recapturing towards the centre by 3...gxf6!? (instead of the good and simple opening of the dark-squared bishop's diagonal with 3...exf6, to be seen later) and White then plays the so-called 'unpretentious' 4.e3 we just get to the same position after 4...c5!
Things are clear: With his 3rd move, Black intends to play ...c7-c5 first, then ...Nc6, ...e7-e5 and ...Qb6 when possible. Then the attempt to blockade the dark squares by e3 + c3 will always result in making the position very unstable for the first player. Game 4 was again exemplary of the dynamism Black could develop in such situations, and it is rather dissuasive to imagine what it could do in more wilful hands...
This is why the English author concentrates on 4.c4, hoping to forestall Black's intention by immediately mobilizing the c-pawn in a more aggressive way than just supporting the d4-square. However, the 'audacious' symmetric black reaction 4...c5! comes as a real let-down for White following 5.cxd5, and I have serious doubts about this way of playing for White since it leads to the complete elimination of the centre without even gaining a tempo as after 5...Qxd5 6.Nf3 cxd4 7.Nc3 Qa5 8.Nxd4 the black queen just looks as if she is developed onto her best square!
Now 8...e6?! proved unfortunate in Game 5 for, as a principle in the 2...d5 3.Bxf6 gxf6!? 4.c4 Tromp, Black should always develop his king's bishop to g7 or h6 and castle either side according to the situation, whenever the queens are on the board.
8...Bd7! is the best move, preparing the development of the queen's knight, and long castling, to which White reacted with the casual 9.e3 in Game 6 to quickly get into trouble in an ending (lured by the presence of the opposing doubled pawns) after 9...Nc6 10.Bb5 0-0-0 11.0-0 Nxd4 12.Qxd4 Bxb5 13.Qc5+ Kb8 14.Qxb5? - once again the same mistake, although surprising on the part of the experienced Tromp player. Rook and bishop is the good combination vs rook and knight, just like queen and knight is against queen and bishop.
9.Qb3!? as suggested by Wells stays at the forefront of the 2...d5 Tromp, and in the only game it where it was tested, Georgiev,V-Beliavsky, Black had to face serious problems after 9...Na6! 10.e3 Nc5 11.Qc4 Ne6? 12.Nxe6 fxe6 13.Rd1 Bg7 14.Be2 Rd8 15.0-0 Kf7 16.Nd5!!:
Nevertheless, it is difficult to pass by a more obvious move than 11...e5! which seems to lead to a forced draw by repetition in the main line, and this may be the conclusion reached by the white players who have turned their attention a little to the 9.Qb3 proposition.
Clearly this is not as annoying as in the previous January update, for White does not seem in danger of inferiority here, but while it only concerns a few pages of the book these are crucial to the whole 2...d5 chapter concerning the 3.Bxf6 sub line that I am close to considering to be dubious after 3...gxf6, so this update further questions Wells' dynamic choices...
My advice is, of course, not to take on f6, but if you feel somehow 'morally obliged' to do this then I guess the less common 5.Nc3?! is more in the spirit of sharp dynamism inaugurated by White's previous 3 moves. The idea then may be 5...cxd4 (Here, White has to reckon with 5...Nc6 and 5...dxc4 too) 6.Qxd4 dxc4 7.Qxc4! Nc6 8.Rd1 Bd7 9.g3! once and for all solving the concern of the g-pawn, which is prone to attack on the semi open g-file, while preparing short castling by developing the king's bishop onto an interesting diagonal without making useless holes on the light squares by the superfluous e2-e3.
By GM Tony Kosten
There was some discussion on the Forum about using the Colle as an 'Anti-Nimzo' weapon, that is when after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 White plays 3 e3, which makes some sense, whereas after 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 e3, Black is hardly likely to want to shut his light-squared bishop in by 3...e6 when there are so many more active possibilities around. Thus, the question was asked whether this should be covered in this area or over on John Emms' Nimzo & Benoni bit? So, as this particular 'Nimzo' move order has concerned me most of my chess-playing life I've decided to have a quick look at it myself on these pages.
My reccomendation for Black is to play what I consider to be the mainline: 3...c5 4 Bd3 d5 5 c3 Nc6 6 Nbd2 Bd6 7 0-0 0-0:
All Black's moves are simple and logical, and he now threatens to play ...e5, so White should capture: 8 dxc5 Bxc5 and he now has a choice of whether to play Capablanca's original idea 9 e4, as in Game 8, or prefer to play in 'Reversed Meran' style with 9 b4 - see Game 9. Although the first method is by far the most popular, objectively I think it favours Black, who gets a very pleasant position immediately, and so I would personally recommend the 'Reversed-Meran' approach for White.
The Colle-Zukertort is a far more dangerous system for Black, as instead of leaving the queen's bishop languishing on c1 White brings it straight to the a1-h8 diagonal and hopes to play in 'Stonewall Attack' style. A great example of the dangers Black faces are shown in Game 10, especially when you consider what a brilliant defender Anand is. Just one slip and it was curtains!
I personally don't like to play these positions for Black, it is just so simple for White, and so I looked long and hard for something more active, and found the line (1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 e3) 3...c5 4 Bd3 d5 5 b3 Nc6 6 Bb2 Bd6 7 O-O O-O 8 Nbd2 Qe7 9 Ne5, and now, instead of capturing on d4 and playing ...Ba3, 9...Qc7!?:
The crafty idea is that Black both attacks the e5-stronghold, and also threatens ...Nb4, so that the obvious 10 f4 would be met by 10...cxd4 11 exd4 Nb4 when White has to part with his important light-squared bishop, and without this piece White is hardly likely to get any sort of mating attack. Anyway, have a good look at Game 11, for as far as I can see White may have a draw but no more, and can easily find himself worse. TonyK
See you soon, Eric