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We cover two Tromp gambit lines with 2...Ne4 this month, one with each colour, including a genuine transposition into the BDG!

    Download PGN of July '07 d-Pawn Specials games

    Trompovsky [A45]

    The first gambit is for Black in the main line 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 4.f3 Qa5+ 5.c3 Nf6 with 6.Nd2 (somewhat eclipsed by the alternative 6.d5 Qb6 7.Bc1 recently, as we saw last time).

    White got less than nothing in Game One following 6...cxd4 7.Nb3 Qb6 8.Qxd4 Nc6 9.Qxb6 axb6 10.Nd4, after 10...e5 11.Nxc6 dxc6! 12.Bxe5 Be6 13.a3 (where I left this variation in the same state some 2 years ago) and the Novelty 13...0-0-0!?:

    This fits in well with the more ambitious modern way of handling this position as Black, relying straightforwardly on the lead in development rather than first opening the queenside.

    Meanwhile 10.Be3, avoiding the central push ...e7-e5 with tempo (while attacking the weakness on b6 without waiting, in the hope to make it move one step further, to b5, so that the recycling move Nb3-d4 will prove more effective) presents Black with another opportunity to sacrifice a pawn in the Tromp after 10...e5! 11.Bxb6 d5:

    This is the correct approach, as in Game 2, setting a powerful centre in motion to emphasise the way Black's active forces compare with the opposing kingside's state of moroseness.

    Finally, 10.e4 appears to be the 'logical' move in this position but is unfortunately met by 10...d5!, thanks to the black cavalry's good central control. Black doesn't fear 11.e5 because of 11...Nh5 12.Be3 Nxe5 13.Bxb6 Nc4 where the trade of a doubled side pawn against an opposing central one already proved favourable for Black in Game 3.

    3...d5 is a sensible alternative to 3...c5 and since we saw that Peter Wells' suggestion of a "solid repertoire" with 4.e3 in his book (Batsford 2003) had to be taken with the greatest reserve after 4...c5 5.Bd3 Nf6! 6.dxc5?!, it is time to become interested in his proposal of an "attacking repertoire" with 4.f3 Nf6 5.e4!?:

    In this version Black has to take care, for after 5...e6 6.e5 Nfd7 7.Be3 White obtains excellent statistics when he plays this logical continuation, as spotted by Wells. It transposes into a sort of improved French Advance or Tarrasch where the queen's bishop is not hampered by the knight on d2, and where one wonders what the knight on d7 is doing if the attack on the pawn chain's e5-point by ...f7-f6 is ineffective because of the supporting move f3-f4.

    Instead Black should take the pawn by 5...dxe4, and in Game 4, after 6.Nc3, Black correctly took the decision to decline the present (but not in an optimal way) with 6...e3 7.Bxe3, therefore transposing into 1.d4 d5 2.e4?! dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 (3...e5!) 4.f3! e3 5.Bc1xe3 or 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4? dxe4?! ( 3...Nxe4) 4.f3! e3 5.Bc1xe3. In both these other cases we can see that Black was confronted with the difficult choice of accepting the gambit on move 4 only because of a previous inaccuracy.

    There are enough games in my database (around 350) from this position to have deserved a dedicated update, if there was not this 'ethical' problem. Besides, White enjoys good statistics in this version of declining the pawn offer that has nothing to do with those he has to suffer in the Lemberger or the Hübsch!

    However, instead of capturing on e3, 7.Bc4 followed by Qd3 (or the same idea with 7.Qd3 immediately) represents the good idea in this position in my opinion: White wants to keep his extra tempo (in comparison with a declined BDG) by recapturing on e3 with the queen. Then, compared to the next few games after 6...Nd5! when the drawback of installing a knight on d5 emphasizes the not so comfortable position of the bishop on f4, this problem was bypassed brilliantly by White in Game 5.

    So, 6...Nd5! immediately is the critical and original way to profit from the opposing set-up:

    In Game 6 White chose not to develop the black queen by capturing on d5, and instead played 7.Bg3 but soon ran into trouble, mainly because of the weakness of the e3 square.

    The best chance for White seems to be 7.Nxd5 Qxd5 8.Bxc7 as in Game 7.

    However 8...Nc6 9.c3 Bf5! "Keeping the tension and as usual somewhat stymieing White's development" (Wells) will regularly offer Black an interesting lead in development without any material deficit provided he pursues in the same counter-gambit spirit with an opportune 'Lembergery' ...e7-e5!

    Finally, the acceptance of the gambit by 7...exf3 8.Nxf3 is far too risky with the valuable extra-tempo of Bf4 and although I did not want to give the impression of considering bad ideas with Black to my readers, how could I resist the clean achievement of the King himself in Game 8?!

    See you soon, Eric