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February 2004 Update

This month, we shall continue our exploration of the critical Anti-Colle system 3...Bg4, and look at two Tromp mainlines.

GM Eric Prié,




I have decided to split the 2...Ne4 Tromp eBook chapter into 2, you can download the new eBook, and the individual chapters in PGN form, from the eBooks Download Page.

You can download the February '04 d-pawn specials games directly in PGN form here: Download Games

Colle [D04]

We will start with the study of the tricky and flexible 4.Nbd2!? (after 3...Bg4) where White's obvious idea is to play h2-h3 to be able to recapture on f3 with his knight in case of the exchange:

This is a considerable improvement on the queen's recapture. It also screens his intention to follow-up with the pernicious idea g2-g4 and Ne5, if the bishop retreats to h5, like in the 4.h3 line when we already saw that 4...Bxf3 5.Qxf3 was almost forced.

This means that Black has to privilege the control of the e5-square with 4...Nbd7 and, consequently, endure the 'tranquilisation' of his light-squared bishop. Unfortunately, as a result, he abandons the thought of playing ...c5 as this normally only makes sense in conjunction with the development of his queen knight to c6, and is one of the main features of the variation.

So, after the sequence 5.h3 Bh5 6.c4, Black is presented with the choice of how to support his central pawn:

In Game one he opted for natural quick development with 6...e6 which proved successful when White started to play very optimistically, giving little consideration to the security of his own king. Quite tragically then, just when he seemed to be doing fine, Black fell to an incredible cheapo here:

26 Bxg7!! which came completely out of the blue, cost him a pawn and eventually the game.

Game 2, with a different order of moves, saw 6...c6 transposing into a D11 sub-line... momentarily, since with a knight on d2, exerting no pressure on Black's d5 pawn, there are not a hundred ways for White to handle the position. he had to play a 'slow' set-up, mixing-up the Colle, English and Larsen, with 7.Be2, and the placing of his dark-squared bishop on the long diagonal. As a consequence of this 'all-purpose', though rather innocuous, development (which, besides, can come from all kinds of openings, including all sorts of weird transpositions) Black quickly seized the initiative but somehow misplayed it and was very happy to escape with a draw in this very tense high-level encounter.

White was not cautious in Game 3 and tried to stray from the beaten track with the seemingly more active 7.Bd3, by transposition. Thus he overlooked Black's concealed idea of profiting from the pin along the d1-h5 diagonal, in spite of the insertion of the sequence 5.h3 Bh5 meant to reduce its power, with the devastating pawn thrust 7...e5!!:

Things were even simpler in Game 4, where White, again, tried to be original as early as his 4th move with 4.Bd3?! definitely NOT "a very reasonable and simple way to play against an early ...Bg4" since, after 4...Nbd7, it was already impossible for him to prevent 5...e7-e5! Hence, and because of the loss of a tempo, he was driven into a Classical position of the French Steinitz (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 Bxf6 7.Nf3 0-0 8.Qd2), with reversed colours, with which he was evidently not acquainted, to end up being completely crushed in 18 short moves.

Trompowsky [A45]

Games 5 and 6 are dedicated to THE main line of the Tromp:

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 d5

Since on 3...c5 Black, of course, not only has to be prepared for the ending resulting from the popular sequence 4.f3 Qa5+ 5.c3 Nf6 6.Nbd2 cxd4 7.Nb3 (7.Nc4!?) Qb6 8.Qxd4 Nc6 9.Qxb6, but also has to reckon with the line 4.d5 Qb6 and either the interesting gambit 5.Nd2, or mainly 5.Bc1 with the idea f2-f3, e2-e4, which is likely to transpose into a Saemish Benoni without any loss of time for White, since the badly placed black queen on b6 will have to move again. This may well suit the King's Indian player but probably not his Nimzo Indian colleague.

4.e3 c5

Although Black may be slightly behind in development, this lateral attack on White's d-pawn is more logical after having deprived it of the possibility of advancing.


Assuming that the doubling of pawns on f6 was a threat introduced by White's second move, this position, resulting from the most 'natural' moves from one part and the other, has to be regarded as THE critical position of the Trompowsky around which, without any doubt, theory will gather and develop in the future.

In both games Black played the dubious, although still very logical, 5...Nc6?! (despite White's massive score in the database - the retreat 5...Nf6 has to be considered to be the critical continuation), and after 6.Bxe4 dxe4 7.d5 continued 7...e5 8.Bg3 Ne7.

In the 'star game' Radjabov - Polgar (which happens to have the second-highest average ELO rating of this section, behind the unlikely-to-be-dethroned Morozevich-Kramnik in the Levitsky...), the new World n°11 reacted with 8...Ng6, apparently a novelty which will probably not gain widespread acceptance because of White's 9.h4! threatening h4-h5 followed by Bxe5 while freeing the h2 square for the Bg3, practically winning one pawn. Eventually things got more complicated, but Black, who seemed to be in little form during the tournament (in rapid play anyway), committed the last mistake.

Black played the old theoretical recommendation 8...f6 in the Game 6 and had to face 9.Qh5+! which is a convincing refutation, 'closing' the whole sub-line.

The remaining games are the extension of last month's update dedicated to the fascinating Tromp line 2...c5 3.Nc3 cxd4 4.Qxd4:

In Game 7 and Game 8, Black continued 4...Nc6 5.Qh4 b5!? a novelty at the time, and even granted a double exclamation mark by GM Mihail TSEITLIN in INF 72:

this functioned well in the first after White developed inaccurately, possibly because of the surprise effect. However, it gave no real queenside activity against White's early long castles, but did, however, bring a severe backwardness in development in the other game, the position very much resembling a Sicilian Richter-Rauzer where the plan Qd2-e1-h4 is not such a rare occurrence.

Games 9 and 10 showed a very interesting, and radical, approach by Black with 4...e6, announcing his readiness to use the most direct means, with ...h6 as soon as possible, to cut loose the pressure on the h4-d8 diagonal - which is the main strategical stake in this line.

In Game 9 the doubling of the f-pawns proved insufficient compensation for the abandoning of the important dark-squared bishop after the exchange of queens, and White was outplayed in the ending.

In Game 10 White played 5.Ne4!? and also managed to double the f-pawns, but this time without letting Black have the bishop pair after having had to exchange the queens, which is a slight improvement. Consequently, he was slightly better in the ending and had good chances to make it a full point at one stage.



Till next month! Eric Prié.