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At last the 1...d5 Torre is on the menu this month, and we will be examining the critical reply 3...Ne4, which is evidently better than the 3...e6 which I have already examined in some depth.

Download PGN of February '10 d-Pawn Specials games

Torre Attack [D03]

Considering the subject of the previous updates (the 2...c6 Tromp), I found it 'logical' to introduce the 1...d5 Torre with the move 4.Bf4?!, even though this is weaker than 4.Bh4, which I will treat next. Now Black's strongest move is 4...c5!:

This is the problem, resulting in an even worse London System for White than usual because of the more aggressive placement of the knight on e4. Indeed, in the similar position after 1...Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 d5 4.e3 c5 White mainly plays 5.Bd3 but also 5.Nbd2 threatening to get rid of the advanced knight, but without seeing his king's knight (who almost always develops to e2 afterwards...) attacked on f3!

Note that 4...c6 5.Nbd2 would instead transpose into recently explored territory...

5.e3 Qb6! because the usual reply 6.Nc3 has lost all his efficiency now due to the knight on e4. 6.Qc1, then is the main move to defend b2. Obviously it cannot be good for White after 6...Nc6 7.c3 Bf5! 8.Nbd2 Rc8:

as Game 1 showed.

7...Bg4!? looks even more promising, at first. However, it allowed White to equalize in Game 2 after 8.Nbd2 Nxd2 9.Nxd2 Rc8 10.Qb1! g6 11.Bd3.

6.Nbd2? is a highly dubious gambit that can work for only one game; Game 3 for instance!

On the other hand, 6.Nc3 is more interesting. As usual it protects b2 because of the threats Nxd5 and Nb5. However the posting of the knight on e4 poses a clear problem that does not exist after, say 3.Bf4 c5 4.e3 Qb6?! 5.Nc3, and following 6...Qa5! 7.Bxb8 Nxc3 8.Qd2 Rxb8 9.bxc3 e6:

Black was just slightly better in Game 4.

Hence 5.c3 is best, (intending 5...Nc6 6.Nbd2) with the idea 5...Qb6! 6.Qb3. Still, 6...Nc6! (and not 6...c4? 7.Qxb6 Qxb6 8.Nbd2 Nxd2 9.Cxd2 b5 10.e4) 7.e3 (Presumably the lesser evil, defending d4 prior to get rid of the strong Ne4. Indeed after 7.Nbd2 Nxd2 White cannot recapture with the knight because d4 is hanging. This allows black's c-pawn advance.) 7...c4 8.Qc2?! (8.Qxb6 axb6 9.Nbd2 Nxd2 10.Nxd2 b5 11.e4 dxe4 12.Nxe4 Be6 with the idea ...Bd5 is the only idea for White to get a playable position) 8...Bf5! 9.Qc1 e6 10.Nbd2 Qd8!?:

This is my preferred recipe: stop Nh4 and propose the ...Bd6 exchange to get rid of White's best piece (which incidentally controls b8) and then start to expand on the queenside. Especially after 11.Be2?? g5! As in Game 5

Instead, 9.Nh4 is designed to thwart this intention. However, Game 6 confirms that it is not necessary to prepare the installation of Black's light-squared bishop onto the crucial h7-b1 diagonal by 8...h6.

As opposed to when the bishop stands on h4 in this position, the reply 5.dxc5 is not critical for two reasons which are connected: Black's e- pawn is free, as it does not necessitate any unpinning queen's move to get moving... and it will directly hit the Bf4 after the opponent abandons the d4 strong point thus. Consequently the second player achieved a dream position in Game 7 after 5...Nc6 6.Nbd2 Nxc5 (Thematically Black waits for this placement of White's queen's knight before recapturing the pawn.) 7.e3 g6 8.Nb3 Bg7! 9.Nxc5? Qa5+ 10.Nd2 Qxc5 11.Nb3 Qb6 12.c3 e5 13.Bg3 Be6:

For tactical reasons 5.Nbd2?! is a rather dubious option with the bishop on f4: 5...cxd4 6.Nxd4 (6.Nxe4? dxe4 7.Nxd4 e5! winning a piece, is the point!) 6...Nbd7! (Renewing the threat) 7.Nxe4 dxe4 8.Nb3 e5 9.Bg3 And White got crushed in Game 8 after declining the 9...e3!? 'gift'.

See you soon, Eric