„Playing the Trompowsky“ by Richard Pert, Quality Chess 2013, 264 pages
Richard Pert is an English International Master with one GM norm under his belt at the time of publication. He has been playing the Trompowsky with success for fifteen years. This is his very first book and one can expect great further works by Richard Pert, soon to be a Grandmaster!
The Trompowsky was for long regarded as an inferior opening, violating the opening principles because it allows Black to immediately attack the bishop while ‘improving’ his knight. But in recent times, especially the last 15-20 years, this opening dropped its bad reputation and established itself as an aggressive choice for players who prefer piece play over pure positional play. The Trompowsky belongs to the Queen’s Pawn Openings where Black answers 1.d4 with …Nf6 instead of the traditional …d5. The difference is obvious: Black does not care about central stability, which he would if he took a pawn in the centre, but relies on piece play, i.e. the central control with his pieces. This gives White the opportunity to question this very piece and to either exchange it off or to relocate it (in most cases to e4), where It might be less stable.
This book is written from White’s point of view and provides a complete repertoire based on 1.d4 & 2.Bg5!?. Despite the title, which belongs only to the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5, the author provides analysis and material to other Black responses, such as 1.d4 d5 2.Bg5!? or 1.d4 f5 (the Dutch Defence) 2.Bg5!?, an attack which is currently considered critical, as it completely avoids typical Dutch structures and gives White dangerous piece play as proven by GM Lars Schandorff and Mr. Kaufman.
Therefore those, who search for an interesting approach with 1.d4 and at the same time want to avoid endless hours of study, can get along with the Trompowsky. In the following I would like to show you the content and some of the analysis included:
1 2…e6 3.e4
2 2…e6 3.Nd2!?
3 2…c5 3.Nc3!?
4 2…c5 3.d5
5 2…Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 4.d4
6 2…Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 4.f3
7 2…d5 3.Bxf6
8 2…d5 3.e3
9 2…Ne4 3.Bf4 d5 4.e3
10 Rare 3rd moves
11 Rare 2nd Moves
12 2.Bg5 against the Dutch
13 1.d4 d5 2.Bg5
For this review I chose to give a comparison between Richard Pert’s analysis and the one GM Boris Avrukh published in his recent book Grandmaster Repertoire 11 – Beating 1.d4 sidelines. IM Richard Pert includes Avrukh’s analysis and expresses interesting thoughts as well as noteworthy analysis, which players, who play according to Avrukh’s work, should definitely get!
The line is from the ninth chapter 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 d5 4.e3
Both books reach the following position:
4…c5 5.Bd3 Nf6!? 6.c3 Nc6 7.Nd2 Bg4 8.Ngf3 e6 9.0-0 Rc8! (given by Avrukh) 10.Qa4 Nfd7 11.Ne5 Ndxe5 12.Bxe5 Qd7 13.Bg3 Bh5
GM Boris Avrukh: “Safeguarding the bishop from the enemy queen. Black intends to complete development by means of …Be7 and …0-0, and I don’t see any particular way for White to cause problems.”
IM Richard Pert: “Avrukh gives this position as unclear, but I marginally prefer White.”
With full respect to Avrukh, but the position contains some interesting possibilities for White. While analyzing the lines in his book I found one interesting idea for White which Pert covers too, but one I miss completely, because I assessed it to be irrelevant.
A) 14.dxc5!? which is the idea I had stored in my files and so did Richard Pert
The following, rather forced continuation looks good for White and I would assess it as +=.
14.dxc5 Bxc5 (otherwise the pawn might just be lost) 15.Qh4! (attacking the Bishop) g6
(15…Bg6 seems to be awkward due to 16.Bxg6 fxg6 17.Nf3 0-0 18.e4 += and Black has rather weak central pawns)
After 15….g6 the light-squared bishop might get into danger, especially after White plays f2-f3 and moves the bishop, creating the threat of g2-g4, winning the piece. This is an important motif Black has to keep in mind.
16.Nb3 Be7 17.Qa4 0-0 18.f3
Richard Pert: “With the black bishop shut out on h5, I slightly prefer White.”
I would agree with him. Richard Pert gives 14.Rfe1!? as his main line, which also leads to interesting play and one where White seems to have slightly better chances, although one can argue whether it’s relevant. In the exchange variation of the Queen’s Gambit declined it is said that White has a long-term plus due to his pawn structure and thus slightly better central control. This doesn’t stop Black players from drawing games. This is a similar case: White has the more pleasant position, over the board being somewhere around += and =, but objectively speaking it’s fully playable for Black.
However, it’s interesting that both sides don’t cover alternatives for Black along the way. I myself have the following line in my database, which looks quite interesting and involves a pawn sacrifice from Black:
Instead of 10…Nfd7 I like the idea to solve the issue with Black’s light-squared bishop by playing 10…Bxf3!? 11.Nxf3 c4! (an idea which Avrukh mentiones in his introduction to the chapter but does not include in his notes) 12.Bc2 Bd6!?
A)) 13.Be5 Bxe5 14.Nxe5 (14.dxe5?! Nd7 and Black is likely to take over the initiative) …a6 15.Nxc6 Rxc6= with good play for Black
B)) 13.Bxd6 Qxd6 14.b3!? (immediately challenging Black’s c-pawn, which takes over the initiative) cxb3 15.axb3 Nd7!? (the comp does not like this move, but as I go down this line, especially after the pawn sac, he thinks differently) 16.b4!? Nb6 (after 16…a6 17.b5! axb5 18.Qxb5 b6 19.e4 White gets the initiative) 17.Qb5 0-0 18.Qd3 g6 19.b5 Ne7! 20.Rxa7 Qc7 (hitting the weaknesses on the c-file) 21.Rc1 Nf5! (aiming to d6, to control the light squares which seems to give Black good counterplay for the pawn) 22.Nd2 (22.e4? dxe4 23.Qxe4 Nd5 =+) Nd6 23.Bd1 Ra8! 24.Rxa8 (24.Rca1 Rxa7 25.Rxa7 Rc8! 26.Ra3 Nbc4 27.Nxc4 Nxc4 with good compensation for the pawn) …Rxa8 25.e4 Ra2! 26.Bb3 Rb2 27.f3 (27.e5 Nxb5) Nbc4 28.Bxc4 Nxc4 29.Nxc4 dxc4 with counterplay.
Certainly it takes an IM or GM to check and verify this analysis, but the pawn sacrifice looks good at first sight.
For his first book definitely a very good one! At some points I found the analysis a bit insufficient and the conclusions a bit biased but overall the analysis was quite good! It’ll give you a good theoretical background if you want to apply the Trompowsky in your own games! Especially those with limited time (due to work, family etc.) will find this repertoire particularly useful!
Rating: (4/6) **** Good!
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