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July 2004 Update

EricThis month we look at the Pseudo-Tromp again, but devote most of the update to the 2...c5 Tromp. This is a continuation of the series of articles started some months ago.

GM Eric Prié,




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

Pseudo-Tromp [D00]

1.d4 d5 2.Bg5 Nc6!?

A more flexible move than 2...f6, and often advocated by Chigorin players. Black's priority is quick development and queenside castling before dealing with the 'Trompowsky bishop'.

3.e3 Bf5 The original idea of this system, when 3...f6 transposes into the critical 2...f6 Pseudo, 4.c4!

In Game one, Black played 4...Qd7 With the idea of refraining from playing ...f7-f6, to thematically win a tempo on the Tromp bishop, and instead reserve the f6-square for his king's knight.

Indeed, as the player of the black pieces had played the Orthodox QGD for a long time, he was probably happy with the pawn structure and having his queen's bishop outside of the pawn chain. He just wrongly estimated the importance of the Nc6 problem and got smashed on the kingside when the position abruptly opened with the poor animal stuck on d8, cutting his line of defences in two!

In Game 2 Black reacted with the critical 4...f6 and the idea 5.Bh4? e5! 6.dxe5 Bxb1 7.Rxb1 Bb4+ 8.Ke2 d4! as in the Albin-Counter Gambit, thus forcing the sequence 5.cxd5! Qxd5 6.Nc3 Qa5 7.Bh4 0-0-0 8.a3! e5 9.d5 Nge7 10.Bc4 Be4!:

This could have provided him with 4 pawns for a piece in a very unclear position, because of the open files in front of his king, after he had to sacrifice a knight to save his queen. Instead he overlooked a clever resource and committed suicide when he advanced his b-pawn in front of his king to get the piece back.

Black opened with the provocative 1...Nc6 in Game 3, and a little smile on his face. Indeed, after the 'surprise effect', was the 1.d4 player going to be as well acquainted with the subtleties of the 'main' lines 2.d5 Ne5 or 2.e4 d5 as presumably was Black? Well, after the naturally efficient 2.Bg5! he suddenly became very embarrassed as he had no other choice than transposing into the Pseudo!

Following 2...d5 3.e3 f6 4.Bh4 he should have pursued with the thematic 4...Nh6 but instead played 4...Bf5!? against which White should himself have played 5.Bb5 but continued instead with the dubious 5.c4?! allowing 5...e5! but was happy when his opponent mixed up the order of moves by starting with 5...Bxb1? 6.Rxb1 e5 when after 7.c5! Nge7 8.Bb5 he perished at the hand of this very light-squared bishop a few moves later!



2...c5 Trompovsky [A45]

The second part of the update takes a close look at what is reckoned to be the main line of the critical 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 c5 Trompowsky, continuing the intensive survey that had been conducted last autumn (which persuaded me to adopt the system as White!) and to which you can refer for a 'dissection' of the introductory moves.

Play now goes 3.Bxf6 gxf6 4.d5 Qb6 5.Qc1 f5

(Although in Game 4 Black actually took back on f6 with his e-pawn: 3...exf6, the possibility that the f8-bishop intervenes early in the course of the battle on the dark squares is not relevant against correct play. What is, on the other hand, is the fact that sooner or later the white pawn on d4 will be exchanged against c5 leaving Black with an awkward isolani on the d-file. And this is what happened in the game after the most precise 4.Nc3! where Black should have lost without ever having had the slightest chance of counter-play.)

Games 5 to 8 saw 6.g3:

The main line. White starts the process of regaining some lost control over the dark squares, prepares the installation of a knight onto the key square f4 (as always when he has doubled the enemy pawns on f6) and develops his light-squared bishop on the long diagonal, from where it supports the pawn on d5 while hampering the development of the enemy queenside and subsequently its light-squared counterpart.

6...Na6 This manoeuvre, with the black queen sliding along the 6th rank, is generally acknowledged by modern theory to be the critical plan in this line of the Tromp, to play against White's strong d5 pawn, 7.Fg2 Nc7

In Game 5, White now played the careless 8.e3?! and after 8...Qd6! began to face some concrete problems over the protection of his d-pawn which he solved by playing 9.Qc2? Nxd5 10.Qxf5 but was then hit by the shot 10...Nb4!!

Instead, the best move is 8.Nh3!:

And Game 6 followed with 8...Qh6?! 9.Nf4 e5 10.dxe6 fxe6 Normally, Black is happy with this exchange undoubling his pawns, but in this particular position his queen is a bit out of play allowing White's very strong 11.Qe3! when suddenly some serious coordination problems start to appear in Black's game as well as an unsuspected fragility of his center. As a result, White seized a strong initiative which he should have promptly converted into a win.

In Game 7, instead of 6...Na6, Black again played this same original manoeuvre with his queen 6...Qh6 to more or less provoke 7.e3 Bg7 8.c3 0-0 but then White wasted a move with 9.Qc2. In this position, it is clear that White will develop his king's bishop to g2 and his king's knight to e2 (which is obviously more flexible than h3, with the same idea of aiming at f4, when e3 has already been played), thus, in my opinion, one should always start with the obligatory moves: 9.Bg2... Furthermore, there is no need to provoke a move that Black will play anyway (9...e6). Later on White lost another tempo, which proved fatal this time as he was hit by a nice combination with his king still stuck in the center.

In Game 8, against the same idea, White showed a better understanding of the position, considering that ...Na6-c7, ...b7-b5 was the key idea for Black in such positions, by playing the interesting and pre-emptive 9.a4:

and managed to keep a 'nail' on d6 after Black had forced the d5 pawn to move. Still, this proved to be a major drawback for the latter having his queen on h6 rather than b6 for he was never in a position to exert enough pressure on d6 despite its isolated character. It even cost him a piece in the ending when all sorts of combinational motives appeared linked to its promotion.

The last game is the perfect illustration of both White's position's relative fragility and the strength of Black's ...Nb8-a6-c7, ...Qb6-d6, ...b7-b5 plan, after the poor 6.c3? This is a waste of a move as Black did not even have to provoke this move with ...Bg7 to weaken the support of the d5 pawn. If necessary, his bishop could have then gone directly to h6 to be exchanged against the f4-knight winning White's central pride!

Following 6...Na6! 7.e3 Nc7 8.Bc4? (8.c4 was the only move which casts a harsh light over the unnecessary prophylactic weakness of White's 6th move!) 8...Qd6 9.Qd2 b5 10.Be2 Bb7 won the d5 pawn and the game.



Till next month! Eric Prié.