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November Update: - What's New

2...c5 is not only the most challenging line against the Trompowsky but also the richest by the variety of instructive positions that arise in practice. This time we shall examine the most natural and obvious reply, 3.dxc5, never dealt with so far on the site.

GM Eric Prié,


The "attack" on a central d-pawn by an opposite c-pawn, or vice versa, is at the root of chess strategy. Quite often the resulting tension is resolved by their exchange and recapture by a piece. An understanding of this theme is full of knowledge which goes well beyond the bounds of a simple line in a fashionable opening.

You can download the November '03 d-pawn specials games directly in PGN form here: Download Games

The first 3 games see 3...Qa5+ but this idea to regain the pawn with the queen is more logical when White has already captured on f6, in order to reserve the dark squared bishop for the long diagonal:

In Game 1, Black became confused trying to take advantage of the situation of the bishop on g5 and, rather than being a pawn down in a dreadful position, decided to sacrifice his queen for "visual" compensation which proved illusory after energetic play.

Game 2 illustrates the main problem of Black's early queen check: being chronically behind in development and having to watch out for any sudden opening of the position. Here Black did not, and was soon in trouble out of an apparently simple position.

Game 3 shows another drawback of Black's 3rd move when the bishop has NOT taken on f6 for he was quickly driven into a position characteristic of an Open Sicilian Richter-Rauzer (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Bg5), sharp by nature, but here with extra-tempi for White and Black was duly massacred with his king stuck in the center.

The next 2 games are dedicated to 3...Ne4 (and then 4.Be3 in reply). This move may be better than 3...Qa5+ but , equally, I do not think much of alternatives which do not develop pieces in this position. Nevertheless, it has one merit: White cannot capture on f6 anymore.

In Game 4, Black never survived the opening after transposing into a most unpleasant English.

It was White's turn to play nonchalantly in Game 5 where he got nothing out of the opening before taking risks which rebounded on him eventually.

Serious things start with 3...Na6, by analogy with the Reti (1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Na3), in games 6 to 7:

In Game 6, Black agreed to enter a Scheveningen Sicilian type position, English Attack style, with his queen's knight not on c6 and his queen not as exposed as in game 3. It could have been quite interesting and original because White's king's knight would not have gone to d4 (as in the Sicilian) but instead could have supported a surge of pawns on the kingside. But instead of the race for an opposite wing attack, Black gave the opponent the opportunity to sacrifice on b5 for 3 pawns, relying subsequently on the exchange of queens. Afterwards, he reacted poorly to get submerged in the endgame.

In Game 7, we witness "Mr Trompopoulos" himself (The nickname "Mr Tromp" has already been given to Julian HODGSON by my predecessor...) in action! Indeed, the Greek player may not be the strongest player of the opening in terms of ELO rating, but he surely is one of the most active Grandmasters on the circuit and therefore the one that has done the most for the popularity of the system by regularly, and systematically, playing the Tromp against strong opposition in open tournaments. Yet here, he seemed to feel awkward at some point when he presented his opponent with the opportunity of winning a pawn but completely outplayed him afterwards in the complications.

In the last 2 games we focus on the logical 3...e6 which is probably the best reply when White wants to keep his bishop. Especially if we consider that it restricts, therefore, the flexibility of the white game by cutting off the possibility of doubling the pawns under eventual favourable circumstances.

In Game 8, the most "romantic" Grandmaster of the planet had, as he often does, the idea of quick and original development in compensation for a pawn but had forgotten about a strong "attack and defense" manoeuvre and was very happy to save the draw.

In Game 9, White transposed into a kind of mixture of Nimzo-Indian and Queen's Gambit with colours reversed but her opponent, on the other hand, did not show exemplary strategy and was smoothly crushed.

Till next month! Eric Prié.