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After Christoph's great work 'through the eyes of "the reversed Chigorin player"', I continue my little business with a bishop on g5 again... hoping that people will soon beg to see it back on f4 ;)

Download PGN of November '09 d-Pawn Specials games

The Tromp [A45]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 c6!?:

A move that is gaining considerable popularity of late against the Tromp. Indeed, the counter attack against the b2 pawn is the most natural reaction when White's queen's bishop leaves the first rank early (some might say prematurely!), in d-pawn systems. But this move is a lot cleverer for those who have assimilated the subtleties of the position resulting from 2...d5 3.Bxf6?! exf6!... that I exposed in my last update in July! Indeed, I have already said (and showed) that the best move for White after 2...d5 is 3.e3 rather than freely parting with the bishop. However, this is impossible here because of the clearance of the 5th rank! It is hard to call it "a trap" but, incidentally, Black wins a piece after the very careless 3.e3?? Qa5+! with 11 games in my database, including one Grandmaster as White!!


Knowing me you could guess that I cannot recommend this move... instead I will deal with my preferred 3.Nd2 (3.Nf3) next, when finally tackling the missing link of the d-pawn specials that is the 1.d4 d5 Torre after 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bg5 or, alternatively, 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 d5 3.Nf3.

3...exf6 4.e3 Qb6?! (In the light of the July update, the fact that Black cannot prevent c4 with 4...Be6 here does not really matter, because we saw then that in the case of 4...d5 5.c4 dxc4! 6.Bxc4 Bd6 the lost tempo with ...c7-c6, instead of castling, is not critical at this stage. It belongs to the black set-up anyway and is often executed later.) 5.b3!:

This move is part of the White plan against this structure anyway, with Black's d-pawn soon expected on d5. Is it possible that Black had not been aware of the close relationship between the 2...c6 and 2...d5 lines against the Tromp?! There followed 5...d5 6.Bd3 and after 6...f5? 7.Nge2 g6 (in order to transfer the knight to f6...) 8.c4 dxc4 9.bxc4 White just got her dream position in Game 1.

In Game 2 White got a promising set-up (when compared with the same structure resulting from 4...d5 5.c4 dxc4! 6.Bxc4 Bd6, for instance) after 4...Na6!? (as c7 is usually the retreat square for Black's dark-squared bishop after ...d7-d5, although it is true that sometimes activating this knight via d7, f6, instead, combined with the move ...f7-f5 closing the c8-h3 diagonal, also has drawbacks, in spite of the appreciable control then gained over the e4 square in return...) 5.c4 Nc7 6.Nc3 Be7 7.Bd3 d5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Nge2:

4.c4 is the move that suggests itself, in order to avoid 4.e3 d5! Then 4...d5 can be countered by 5.cxd5 Qxd5?! 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.e3 0-0 8.Nge2 which offered White a treat of an ending in Game 3 after 8...Bg4? 9.a3! Bxc3 10.Nxc3! Qh5 11.Be2 Bxe2 12.Qxe2 Qxe2 13.Kxe2 Nd7 14.b4:

4...Bb4+! However represents the whole point of playing 2...c6!?, because 5.Nc3 collides with 5...Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 d6!:

With the basic plan ...0-0, ...c7-c5, ...Nc6, ...b7-b6, ...Re8 etc. The idea ...Qa5, ...Nd7-b6 stopping White's play along the semi open b-file, followed by ...Be6 to put pressure on the c4 pawn, is also interesting. In any case, having levelled the defects in the pawn structure, I believe Black enjoys pleasant equality.

So after 5.Nd2, instead, 5...d5 6.e3, rather than 6...0-0 where Black struggled to equalize in Game 4, he should have continued with the forcing 6...Be6! intending the idea 7.cxd5 cxd5! 8.a3 Bd6 9.Ne2 0-0 10.Nc3 Nc6:

So the subtlety of the disruptive check 4...Bb4+! has allowed Black to win a tempo on 4...d5 5.cxd5 cxd5. Consequently he is ahead in development. However, that is likely to be as relevant as the possibility of losing his isolated pawn on d5 by force... Thus I would rate his chances in the ensuing long strategical fight, from this critical position, as pretty equal, with all his good pieces compensating for the defective structure.

4...f5!? is really experimental, and after 5.Nc3 a6 5.e3 b5 6.a3 g6:

Black actually managed to get every single pawn onto light squares in Game 5!

3...gxf6!? is interesting although I believe this recapture is not what gives the most value to Black's second move... Indeed, we have already observed (in the previous games with 3...exf6!) the close relationship that exists between 2...c6 and 2...d5. After 3...gxf6, however, the answer to 4.e3 or 4.c4 is clearly 4...c5! despite the fact that Black, with his second move, has already pushed this pawn one square...

Instead, in Game 6, there followed 4.e3 Qb6 5.b3 again... and instead of the 5...d5 6.Nf3 Bg4?! that led Black to compete passivity following 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 Nd7 9.Bd3 e6 10.0-0 f5 11.c4, he would have done better to challenge on the dark squares by the thematic 6...e5!:

With one extra pawn in the centre and the necessity to activate his bishops in order to make up for his altered structure.

I do not like 5.Qc1?!, as clearly the d1-h5 diagonal is interesting for the white queen in this structure. It also tends to justify the opposing queen's sortie to b6... In Game 7 Black should have accepted the pawn after 5...d5 6.c4 e5 7.Nc3?! by 7...dxc4 8.Bxc4 exd4 9.exd4 Qxd4 with very obscure compensation for White, instead of the poor 7...Bh6?, which was based on a faulty calculation.

Hence White should prefer 4.c4!, with the idea 4...Qb6 5.Qd2:

That is why Black attacked the opposing centre immediately with 4...e5 in Game 8, so as to avoid, arguably, misplacing his queen. Nevertheless, 5.e3 d5 6.Nc3 Be6 7.Qb3 caused him some trouble.

4...d5 5.e3 e6 is more passive and White energetically explained why in Game 9.

See you soon, Eric