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The 1...d5 Tromp again! It is important to complete the coverage of this easy equalizer (2...d5 that many had for long considered the practical refutation of White's seemingly aggressive 2nd move...) with 3.Nf3, transposing to a Torre Attack.

Download PGN of May '10 d-Pawn Specials games

Torre/2...d5 Tromp [D03]

After 3.Nf3 the main line is 3...Ne4 4.Bh4 c5!:

After White's reply 5.e3, and as with the 4.Bf4 retreat I examined in February, I believe that 5...Qb6! is now more promising for Black than transposing into the 5.c3 Nc6 6.e3 Qb6 variation of game 5, and in Game 1 Black took advantage of 6.Qc1? by annoyingly threatening to bring his bishop to h6, at the same time pleasantly solving the question of the advance of his e-pawn.

Nevertheless, the complete refutation of this way of playing for White is actually the straightforward 6...cxd4 7.exd4 Nc6 8.c3 e5!:

tactically exploiting the position of the bishop on the edge; a possibility that obviously did not exist with the bishop on f4. And White got crushed in Game 2 after 9.Nxe5 Nxe5 10.dxe5 Bc5.

The gambit attempt 6.Nbd2? also proved flawed in Game 3 as instead of taking on b2 immediately, Black could first exchange the knights by 6...Nxd2 7.Qxd2 and only now take the pawn, 7...Qxb2 8.Rd1 e6 with the idea ...c5-c4 and no white compensation for the pawn whatsoever in the forthcoming forced ending.

6.Nc3!? is already more interesting. The whole validity of this move then relies upon complicated sacrificial lines that still await the test of practice...

In Game 4 though, White had almost nothing for the pawn after 6...Qxb2!? (once again a possibility that did not exist with the bishop on f4, as this would then protect the knight after the check on c7) 7.Nxd5!? Nc3 8.Nxc3 Qxc3+ 9.Nd2 cxd4 10.Bb5+? (10.Bd3! dxe3 11.fxe3) 10...Bd7 11.Bxd7 Nxd7.

5.e3 Nc6!? is interesting for Black (if 6.Nc3!? turns out to be playable after 5...Qb6!) as it invites White to play 6.c3 (therefore transposing into the common sequence 5.c3? Nc6?!) 6...Qb6 which as usual brought Black an edge in terms of space advantage and better pieces in Game 5 after 7.Qb3 c4 8.Qc2 Bf5 9.Qc1 e6 10.Nbd2 Bd6:

The refutation of 5.c3? is, however, the immediate capture 5...cxd4! In Game 6 White took back with the knight, 6.Nxd4, which had the opposite result of making 6...Qb6! with the known idea ...Qh6! even stronger!

Black can be much worse after 5.dxc5 if he immediately goes 5...Nxc5?? because of 6.Nc3. However, if he waits until the c3 square is no longer available for the opposing queen's knight before recapturing the pawn, as after 5...Nc6 6.e3 g6!, he is just better, with a fine bishop on g7 after the d4 wedge has gone. The white bishop then stands better on h4, where it keeps an eye on the e7-pawn, than f4 as in the painful game Manolache-Balogh. The result nevertheless is nothing more than 'solidly passive' for the 1st player as showed by the great Game 7, and some analysis displayed in additional Game 8 from the critical position after 10.0-0:

5.Nbd2 had been my relatively unexplored idea to revive this variation for White, and the surprise worked in Game 9 with Black opting for 5...Qa5?! 6.dxc5 therefore transposing into the inferior line 5.dxc5 Qa5+?! Indeed, when required, Black should prefer to recapture the pawn with the knight, as in the previous games, rather than with his queen!

5...Qb6! is the critical continuation, again, when White should avoid 6.Nxe4? dxe4 7.dxc5?:

which instructively lost a piece in Game 10 after the old acquaintance 7...Qh6! 8.Bxg5 Qg6.

6.c4 was my original idea... but I had overlooked the simple counter 6...e6!:

Black does not take anything, for the moment, but supports his d5 pawn and opens the f8-a3 diagonal for his dark-squared bishop. I believe in the rhythm of the opening and the fact that this was made possible right after having unpinned his e-pawn, made me realize I was probably already in trouble in Game 11.

See you soon, Eric