Tuesday, 20 November 2012


Mike McNaughton's magnum opus continues ...

Black replies 2… Ne4

I said I did not care much for this move, and the reason, shortly stated, is this.  In real warfare, a soldier who left his army’s lines and ventured close to the enemy ranks would get shot at.  Black is open, as we saw in the last issue, to f3, when the Knight has to move again.

What is more, White doesn’t have to answer 2… Ne4 with 3 Bh4.  Bf4 is a much stronger move in my humble opinion.  White has all sorts of dangerous attacking lines and to illustrate one of them, I have selected one from Julian Hodgson in the Bundesliga against an opponent with the quaint name of Arkadius Kalka.

White: Julian Hodgson; Black: Arkadius Kalka
I have selected below a game which is anything but perfect, but perhaps it only goes to confirm what I said in the introduction; namely that the Tromp can sometimes give rise to wild positions.  I put this game on Fritz’s Blundercheck mode and it started whirring away happily.  It’s not the Evergreen Game exactly, but in a way it’s a bit of fun.  Personally, I think White had a few rushes of blood to the head; with a little more preparation Black would have been squashed.  Even White’s resignation was premature.

White: Eduardo Rossel; Black: Tabare Bustelo
It is only fair to say that Black has a better move after 3. Bf4, that being the immediate c5.  If White now continues 4. f3 (which he normally does) then Black plays Qa5+ and the presence of the Knight, even though it must eventually retreat, restricts White’s options in blocking the check.  So 5. c3 and the Knight has to go back to f6. White’s next move is 6. Nd2, probably not where he wanted to put it, but it’s bound for b3 to chase away the Black Q.  So 6… cxd4 7. Nb3 Qb6 (not much choice) 8. Qxd4 Nc6 9. Qxb6 axb6 10. e4 (well, I don’t know about you, but this is a position for Black I would not like).  Black is under-developed and I don’t think the doubled pawn on the b-file is very clever either.

I guess that, before finally leaving the move 2 Ne4, I should mention the wacky 3 h4?! which certainly will make your opponent sit up, but I wouldn’t lose too much sleep about it.

Black plays 2. e6

This line can quite easily transpose into lines which are more reminiscent of the kind of position you get from more normal d-pawn openings.  One such system is a close relative of the Colle called the Torre Attack.   I’m going to give you a short game between its ‘inventor‘ Eugenio Torre, and the Russian GM Andrei Sokolov. It’s very short, but the similarities with the Colle are obvious.
It certainly can’t be said that the Torre Attack is a bad line for White and if you choose to answer 2. Bg5 with e6, you need to be prepared to defend against it.  I wouldn’t frankly expect a White player to try and steer the opening into conventional d-pawn lines, if only because if he wanted that kind of position, he wouldn’t play the Tromp. I will be suggesting a line which was played successfully by the Russian GM Vladimir Epishin, which seemed to me to give Black a very reasonable position with little risk, and is a good choice if all you want is a decent line against the Tromp that gives you a reasonable position without too much book study . White was a player I hadn’t heard of called Soel Katrsev.  Epishin – well you have probably heard of him.  He uses a move order not unlike a system I suggested against the Colle.

White can respond to 2… e6 with the immediate 3. e4, which of course forces 3… h6 4. Bxf6 Qxf6 5. e5 Qd8 and the resulting position will have a familiar ring about it to all players of the French Defence.

So there we have it; this concludes Part 2.  In the next, I will be looking at the reply d5 and giving you three high quality games.


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