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After the 'snack' of the first two games, we continue our exploration of the most popular 2...Ne4 3.Bf4 Tromp this month with an offbeat, provocative and CURRENT system for White that has been paradoxically advocated by some of the strongest grandmasters on the planet; with an average ELO rating well over 2600 -almost unimaginable for this section- for the last 6 games!

Download PGN of January '05 d-Pawn Specials games

Barry Attack [D00]

Game one was a Barry where it seemed that White had understood the march of the pawns only in terms of a possible file opener against the enemy castle:

Alas, just when the invasion on the h-file was about to reach its goal, it was time for him to be sadly brought down to earth!

Colle-Zukertort [D02 & D04-05]

Abstaining from making use of the appropriate Grünfeld Defence themes, White played the opening quite originally in Game 2 but was punished for his belated attempt to lash out when he overlooked that his opponent could get as much as a rook, 2 pieces and a couple of soon dropping pawns for the queen.

Trompowsky [A45]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 4.d5!?

Having lost its status as a surprise opening, the untheoretical Tromp Opening has recently seduced a new clientele of pure 1.d4 players who are attracted by this very pawn structure and prefer this to having to face another 'equalish' Nimzo.

4...Qb6 Of course, 5.Bc1 (With 5.b3? this time bluntly losing on the spot to 5...Qf6; 5.Qc1 c4! 6.e3 Qa5+, and the pawn sac 5.Nd2 being acknowledged as dubious, this is the only sensible move.)

In Game 3 Black could not be bothered and transposed into a gambit line that we had already examined in December with an extra-move by 5...e6 6.f3 Nf6 7.c4 exd5 8.cxd5 c4 9.e3 Bc5 10.Kf2 0-0 11.Bxc4 Re8 12.Qb3:

but this time, instead of the inferior Qd6 Black played the accurate 12...Qd8!, without fearing 13.d6 too much because of either 13...Kh8!? (Sulskis) or the prosaic 13...Rf8

Then young Russian star Grischuk showed his enormous preparation and after having methodically sapped the supports of the white pride on d5 won his pawn back while retaining some initiative which he converted into a queen win after his opponent made his first mistake.

From the same opening position White got utterly massacred in Game 4 after he failed to find the proper defensive set up and had to part with an essential defender in the form of his light-squared bishop.

It has to be remembered, however, that, as once mentioned by Kasparov himself in chess Informant, e2-e4, instead of the timid e2-e3, should be considered the critical line against Black's idea.

Black opted for 5...g6!? in the next 2 games:

This is another possibility generated by White's "uneconomical" order of moves - let us remind ourselves that this line is largely secondary compared to 4.f3, except, apparently, amongst top-flight grandmasters!

Be that as it may, it can therefore represent a surprise weapon, not lacking venom, against badly prepared opponents.

After 6.f3 Nd6 is the logical complement to the previous move as first played in 87 by the imaginative GM Granda Zuniga although it has a somewhat polemic appreciation amongst GM commentators!

In Game five, the strongest Tromp player of the World, namely Michael Adams, got nothing after energetic play from his opponent and was happy to clinch a draw; while in Game six his younger compatriot McShane, walking in his footsteps, was more successful with a radical, apparently more appropriate, 'lively' and creative, treatment of the position.

The real problem with this line is shown in the last 2 games after the disruptive 5...e6 6.f3 Qa5+!:

Compare this with the more popular sequence 4.f3 Qa5+! more or less forcing 5.c3 Nf6 6.d5 (which we studied recently) 6...e6 7.e4 or with the interposed 6...Qb6 7.Bc1 e6 8.c4, reaching the same position as in game 1, but where the black queen is much better placed on a5 than b6 or, if you prefer, the White's queen's bishop is obviously less active on c1 than, developed, on f4!

White, merely rated 2666 (!), completely missed the point in Game 7 and I must admit that I have rarely seen such a disastrous opening from White's point of view at this level of the game.

Things hardly turned out better in Game eight when White frivolously played with his g-pawn in order to gain space on the kingside to the detriment of the (always primordial) security of his king. This kind of thing is unforgivable against an expeditious Kasparov with his powers at their peak.

Till next month! Eric Prié.