ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
The ending resulting from 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 4.f3 Qa5+ 5.c3 Nf6 6.Nd2 cxd4 7.Nb3 Qb6 8.Qxd4 Nc6 9.Qxb6 axb6 10.Nd4 e5 11.Nxc6 exf4 12.Nd4 stands at the very heart of the Trompowsky.

Download PGN of October '05 d-Pawn Specials games

Trompowsky [A45]

Instead of the classical compensation, for one pawn, of a lead in development and the initiative combined with a completely repaired structure after 11...dxc6!? 12.Bxe5 Be6 (that we thoroughly examined recently and against which I have found no riposte; so much so that it made me drop the Tromp in my latest games!) , here Black generally opts for active play generated by a strong pair of bishops and the opponent's worries on the dark squares to make up for his horrible pawn structure.

Undoubtedly most of the great names we have seen passing by in the 2...Ne4 3.Bf4 Trompowsky (as a reminder, in order of appearance and only mentioning the 2600+ players: Dominguez, Kotronias, Bacrot, Grishuk, Gelfand, Kasparov, Volokitin...) were prepared to face it (if they were not intending to play the gambit 11...dxc6, or Svidler's 7...Qf5, or 7...Qd8 - to be studied later).

Curiously enough, this line has never been dealt with by Aaron! Thus, this update attempts to repair that iniquitous treatment!

The first two games start with the natural 12...d5 where Black prevents any Nh3, attacking his f4-pawn, and gains space:

In Game one White then played 13.g3. However, although this variation revolves around the one and only theme of undermining Black's 'nail' on f4, this move, in this configuration, is not best and the former Croatian n°1 got nothing with White (and even less than that...!) twice.

Clearly superior is the astonishing though thematic 13.e3! as played in Game two where White implemented the most dangerous plan for Black of 13...fxe3 14.Ke2! g6 15.Kxe3 Bh6+ 16.Kf2 0-0 17.Bb5! Preventing Re8-Be3+ that would forbid the linking of the white rooks. After the further 17...Bd7 18.Nge2 Rfe8 19.Rad1 Be3+ 20.Kf1:

The result being that every white piece is developed in the optimal way which was enabled by a quasi winning pawn structure from the start where Black has holes on b5, b4, d6, d5, and d4! Black proved unsuccessful in worrying the opponent's king and was unable to find sufficient counter activity on the dark squares, either.

The next 3 games focus on the interesting alternative 12...Nd5!?:

This strange 'time costing' move is trickier as it somehow prepares the recycling of the black knight to the c7-square to control the vital b5 point in addition to d5.

There are other moves like 12...Ra5 or 12...g6, which we shall analyse some other time, specifically directed against what happens to be White's most dangerous freeing plan as shown in the previous game, but then White can usually switch to the g2-g3 alternative satisfactorily.

In Game three White reacted with the impulsive 13.e4 dxe3 14.Bc4 intending after 14...Nc7 to play 15.Ke2 Bc5 16.Kxe3, but a bit too late realized the dangers of the line 16...b5! 17.Bb3 b4 undoubling the pawns with very active play and therefore had to back down with 15.Nge2, and was later happy when he just won his lightly sacrificed pawn back to equalize.

13.g3 is the correct approach against which Black played the wrong 13...g5? in Game four, compromising her terrible pawn structure even more. Then came 14.e4!:

Which now comes with an enhanced effect, that rapidly proved unbearable for the second player especially as the newly created hole on f5, ideal for a white knight, played a significant role.

Black tried 13...Ne3 in Game five but had to face the precise continuation 14.Nh3!, implying a very dangerous pawn sacrifice: 14...fxg3! 15.hxg3 Bc5 16.Kd2 Bxd4 17.cxd4 Nf5 18.Nf4 Nxg3 19.Rg1 Nxf1+ 20.Rxf1 and now, instead of the consistent 20...Kd8! 21.Nd5 Ra6, Black played 20...d6? when 21.Nd5 led to the forced capture of b6 and the win of the game, White is virtually an exchange up as Black's queen rook never saw the light.

The remaining games concentrate on what is ultimately the best move, which as usual happens to be the most natural one! 12...Bc5! Black develops a piece and is ready to exchange the opponent's only developed, and evidently best, piece:

In Game six White transposed into the previous line by 13.g3 Nd5?!, but instead of the accurate 14.Nh3! as in game 5 he chose the dubious 14.gxf4 which was met by 14...Ne3! forcing 15.Kd2 Nxf1+ 16.Rxf1 Rxa2 17.Kc2 d5! 18.e3?:

A surprising and instructive mistake when the only move is 18.e4 although this gives, at best, absolutely nothing against the powerful opposing pair of bishops. Fortunately for White, his opponent missed the bus (18...Bxd4!!) and little by little was ground down in the ending.

Instead, 13...Bxd4! 14.cxd4 Ra4 is the critical continuation and this figured in Game seven. Now, only after 15.gxf4 does Black reply 15...Nd5! when White, instead of being forced to defend after 16.f5 Rxd4 17.e4 Ne3, should have tried the sacrifice 16.e4! Nxf4 17.Kf2 Rxd4 18.Ke3 Ne6 19.Rc1 Ke7 20.Bc4 Rd6 Ne2 with good compensation.

Otherwise White should renounce 13.g3, and instead opt for 13.Nh3 compelling 13...Nd5 14.e4! fxe3 15.Bc4 as in the last 2 games:

Black went 15...Nc7 in Game eight and White was probably slightly better after 16.Nf4 0-0 17.0-0-0 d5 18.Nxd5 Nxd5 19.Bxd5 Rd8 20.Ne2 Bf5 21.Re1 intending Ng3-e4:

, because of the weakness of e3 and the b pawns as well as good central control when Black fell for the deceptive seduction of 21...Rxd5?!

15...Nb4! is the latest trend in the form of a crucial and only two month old novelty, no doubt the result of deep preparation:

Afterwards, in Game nine, the highly rated Black player could not hang onto the pawn but still maintained the balance because of the equally ruined white pawn structure, the result of an exchange on h3, which was compensated by the latter's initiative.

Till next month! Eric Prié.