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The Bg5/Nc3/Qd3 set-up, with the idea e2-e4, is something I have occasionally suggested to certain early Nc3 addicts striving to quit the Hübsch, which is inferior to the BDG in my opinion.

Download PGN of January '10 d-Pawn Specials games

Veresov/Tromp [D01]

Enough about the Veresov however! As it seems relevant and interestingly playable (therefore reassuring my views on the d-Pawn Specials in general...) in a Trompowsky move order by 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 c6!? 3.Nc3, and now, instead of the greedy 3...Qb6 that I examined last time, 3...d5:

Now 4.e3 however is a dubious idea, I reckon, because of 4...Qb6!? which is very much in the spirit of the material I have dealt with in my recent updates: A prompt attack on the b2 pawn after an early ...c6, without being afraid of the doubling of the f-pawns after the exchange on f6.

Nevertheless, the point is elsewhere... Indeed, with his last move White has more or less unveiled his intention to play a mini-Stonewall, with the bishop outside the pawn chain, after f2-f4. Then it can be important to remove the black queen from the pin, for instance after the manoeuvre ...Bg4xf3, ...e6 in order to block a further advance of this f-pawn. Furthermore, the black queen will be ideally placed to support a further ...c6-c5 here, putting pressure on the weakened a7-g1 diagonal.

Incidentally, it cannot be a bad idea to make White lose his right to castle queenside either! After 5.Rb1 g6! is a serious improvement over both the 5...Bf5 and 5...Bg4 I considered in the previous update; and a lot more in the typical spirit of Black fighting against the Veresov, I must admit! 6.Bd3 Bg7 7.f4 0-0 8.Nf3 Bg4!:

Getting rid of this 'mating knight' removes all the poison from this white set-up... 9.0-0 Nbd7 10.h3 Bxf3 11.Qxf3 e6 12.Ne2 (My opinion is that when White is forced to play this move with his misplaced queen's knight it is a sure sign something has gone wrong in the opening...!) 12...c5! and the truth is that with the white attack at a standstill after the exchange on f3, Black was just better in Game 1 thanks to his natural play on the other flank, initiated, as everyone has noticed, by a free c-pawn!

With the sequence ...Qb6/Rb1 inserted I think White should switch plans and this is what he did in Game 2 with 7.h3!?, losing time but probably the only move by a process of elimination.

However, in this situation when Black has already committed his pawn to c6, 4.Qd3!? (with the idea of playing e4 in one go) is the move I am interested in, as I also have the right to update Christoph's excellent work on his Veresov speciality from just a few months ago!

My point then is to exploit the fact that Black will not take advantage of this clearly intentioned early queen sortie by playing the thematic lateral counterattack ...c7-c5 in one go.

4...Na6, although not as common as 4...Nbd7, is the move favoured by my Rybka engine, trying to...take advantage of the opposing queen's early development!

Now, however, 5.0-0-0? proved a serious mistake in Game 3 after 5...Qa5 6.a3? as this provided Black with a free lever that will allow his queen's rook to join the attack with damaging effect after 6...b5!

We have already seen quite a few examples of the fragility of an inopportune long castling by White in this section in relation to the Veresov...!

4...Qa5 takes obvious advantage of the early opening of the d8-a5 diagonal with the immediate threat of ...Ne4. This threat should be parried, in similar manner to what White should have done in the previous game, with 5.a3! planning 5...Ne4? 6.b4:

White nevertheless opted for 5.Bd2 in Game 4 and rapidly ran into trouble after 5...Na6! already threatening ...Nb4xc2+!

4...b6 is the 3rd direct way to try to profit from the early commitment of the white queen. It is not as critical as the 2 previous attempts, for instead of the 5.Nf3 Ba6 6.Qe3 of Game 5, White could have gone 6.Qd2 with rather promising options for a Veresov.

4...h6!? there again, is very much in connection with the theme of my latest updates! And after 5.Bxf6 exf6 6.e4 Bb4 7.exd5 0-0 (apparently a Novelty, although the gain over the immediate recapture 7...cxd5 is not clear.) 8.0-0-0 cxd5:

White's superior structure was balanced by Black's good pieces and attacking chances against the more fragile opposing castle in Game 6.

I said to myself that it had been a long time since I had done anything on the Pseudo Tromp! So Game 6 actually started 1.d4 d5 2.Bg5?! (as did game 4, by the way) 2...Nd7?! 3.Nc3?! (Unjustified with this order of moves as White, 3.c4! must be the critical continuation as in supplementary Game 11) 3...Nf6 4.Qd3 c6?!, this last move is absurdly common in this precise position where we have already examined the natural 4...c5! as an appropriate answer, with the idea 5.dxc5 e6; but still there is a sort of a positional trap after ...c6: 5.e4?, which White fell for in Game 7.

5.Nf3!, protecting the bishop on g5, and with e2-e4 now hardly avoidable by Black, transposes into 4.Nf3 c6?! 5.Qd3. I believed that it was interesting to underline this with this game, especially when the progression of thought that led to the idea that 4.Nf3 h6! is the strongest move in this position has been a big concern of mine.

Furthermore, it offers another illustration of the possible drawback, by transposition, of the committal 3...c6 (or 4...c6, as here) compared to the flexible 3...Nbd7 that I discussed in August 07 around the Miladinovic-Romanishin game, when White is reluctant to part with his just developed bishop.

It is was no surprise, either, to see the one of the strongest occasional Veresov specialists opting for 5.Nf3 in Game 8, which continued 5...b5 6.a3! And it is not every day that you can see a genuine individual European Champion in this column!

4...Nbd7 is a more relevant move order in my main Tromp/3...c6 Veresov, however, and after 5.Nf3 g6 6.e4 dxe4 7.Nxe4 Bg7 we then reach a key position in the Veresov:

Not wishing to linger too long on this not really very fashionable opening, on a line that is very unlikely to be part of my repertoire from either side one day, White went for kingside castling in Game 9 after 8.Be2!?, whereas 8.0-0-0 continued the main theoretical debate in Game 10.

See you soon, Eric