The Trompowsky Attack is a Queen’s Pawn Opening which begins with 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5
In the Trompowsky Attack, white foregoes the opportunity to grab more space with the normal move 2. c4, and instead develops a bishop – perhaps threatening to double the black pawns if black is willing to permit this!
Black has several ways to handle the Trompowsky, so let’s take a look at how the game can progress.
This is a solid choice, though not black’s most popular. Remember that black decided against playing a symmetrical “d4-d5” opening on move one when they played …Nf6, but it seems they have now changed their mind.
White could switch to a different opening system with a wide variety of moves here (3. Nf3 and 3. Nc3 are both reasonable), but the move 3. Bxf6 keeps the game in true Trompowsky territory, doubling the black pawns at the expense of giving up the bishop pair!
Both recaptures are viable. One line goes 3…exf6 4. e3 Bd6 5. c4 dxc4 6. Bxc4 0-0 7. Nc3 Nd7 8. Nf3 c6 9. Qc2 f5!
This …f5 idea allows black to make use of his extra doubled pawn, adding support to e4 and clearing f6 for the knight. The pawn is immune – 10. Qxf5?? Ne5! (not 10…Nb6? 11. Qd3) wins material for black.
White has the better pawn structure, but black has two bishops and is finishing up development comfortably. The game is roughly equal.
This is a popular way to handle the Trompowsky. Black avoids the possibility of doubled pawns by allowing the queen to watch over the knight.
White has slow approaches they can play here (discussed in the video above), but perhaps the critical test of this line is 3. e4. White makes use of the fact that the knight is now pinned to occupy the center!
Black almost universally replies with 3…h6, forcing white to give up the bishop pair without wrecking the black pawn structure. But after 4. Bxf6 (4. Bh4? g5 wins material for black) 4…Qxf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Qd2 c6 (Nb5 is otherwise sometimes annoying) 7. f4:
We see that white hasn’t parted with the bishop pair for nothing! White still gets a space advantage and a slight lead in development, and the f6 queen is arguably a bit misplaced.
This has become black’s most popular move against the Trompowsky Attack, simply turning the tables on the bishop and avoiding doubled pawns!
However, this knight can be a target for white’s central expansion. In some cases, white will play f2-f3 to gain a tempo on this knight before following up with e2-e4.
3. Bf4 is white’s main move here. (3. Bh4 is also possible and covered in the video, and even 3. h4 has been tried!). Now black often strikes at the center with 3…c5, and after 4. f3 Qa5+ 5. c3 Nf6 6. d5 Qb6:
The strange-looking 7. Bc1 is often played! White simply defends the b2 pawn without creating any weaknesses (7. Qd2 fails to 7…Nxd5 when the queen is overloaded!), and gets ready to play e2-e4 next turn.
This entire 2…Ne4 system within the Trompowsky Attack is known for producing several such lines that seem to go against everything we know about chess opening principles! In the video for instance, I cover a line where black plays Qd8-b6-h6 within the first 8 moves – to great effect!
Black has other ways to play against the Trompowsky as well, the two main ones being the immediate 2…c5 as well as 2…g6 with an early fianchetto. Because of the lack of early pawn tension in this opening, both sides have a multitude of viable systems to choose from!
The Trompowsky Attack is an exciting opening that can lead to all sorts of different positions. If you’re looking for an alternative to the standard positions resulting from 2. c4, the “Tromp” might be just what you’re looking for.
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