Review: Trompowsky for the attacking player

by Davide Nastasio
10/12/2018 – Recently we've seen Chess960 being actively discussed as a way to play chess while avoiding opening theory, testing our opponent's mind from the start. However, for the amateur, playing tournaments on the weekend, there are so many possibilities in the opening theory that it is nearly impossible to cover all of them decently. Many already have adopted setups like the London system, or the King's Indian Attack (KIA) so they don't have to study opening theory. Gareyev proposes an attacking alternative in the Trompowsky, a lesser known opening which can oblige Black to think from the first moves while creating plenty of tactical problems. DAVIDE NASTASIO takes a look in this interactive review that encourages the reader to try out key middlegame and endgame positions against an engine. Get your daily training here and now! | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Trompowsky for the attacking player Trompowsky for the attacking player

Tap into your creative mind and start the game on a fresh note. The Trompowsky (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5) is an opening outside of conventional wisdom. Create challenges and make your opponent solve problems early on.


A Timur Gareyev offensive weapon

I met GM Gareyev few years ago, at a local tournament in my state, and I felt he had an incredible personality, practised deep introspection with a nice sense of humour. It is quite nice to see the "Blindfold King" live on video! Timur Gareyev has made his name in the chess world surpassing record after record set in the past for numbers of games played blindfolded. In my opinion, the Blindfold King well represents a sort of divine spark inside all of us — a creativity that has made us so different from all the other animals living on this muddy sphere, sent in a crazy trajectory around the cosmos.

As an average chess amateur, I'm always on the lookout to improve my openings and — as he advises in the introductory video — I also want to keep my opponents guessing. Therefore, the Trompowsky could be the right choice. As Gareyev points out, one can continue to play 1.d4 and 2.c4, as he does, but sometimes it is nice to scramble the things up!

The first game he presents is amazing for various reasons: it is played against another GM, the other GM didn't know Gareyev was playing blindfold, and the other GM lost badly, miniature style, in just 24 moves!

Watch this position for few minutes, and find the best move for White! Black just took on d4 with the pawn (cxd4) the problem is that if White recaptures with the d1-rook, then Black can continue with Qb6 and pin the rook. But White has an amazing move... can you see the winning continuation? 


Why should one learn the Trompowsky? Well, a while back ChessBase released a title on the London System. And I must say the London system works very well on 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 but if an opponent plays 1.d4 Nf6 with the idea of playing 2...d6; against the London, well maybe the London is not the best choice. 


And here the Trompowsky comes into play! A way to deal with 1...Nf6; avoiding the 2...d6 line, which could cause some problems for Bf4. I find it exciting that I studied the London for months, then I discovered through tournament practice the problems with the London, and then found ChessBase's newer title on the Trompowsky, which helps me to continue the journey and improve as player.

This opening has also been treated in few books, like Winning with the Trompowsky, from 2003: Or from IM Richard Pert (GM Nick Pert's twin brother and also a chess professional), Playing the Trompowsky, 2013: 

Trompowsky books

Further reading for those inclined to turning paper pages

While I believe the ChessBase DVDs are the best way to learn an opening, I also like to discover its history. In this case from Pert's book on the Trompowsky, we come to know this opening was named after Octavio Figueira Trompowsky de Almeida, a Brazilian champion in 1939, and was made popular all over the world thanks to a duo of English GMs: Julian Hodgson, and Mickey Adams.

Let's enjoy some of the historical games which have made this opening what is today:


One of the questions which often pops to mind is how to study an opening. If a mentor, like Richard Pert, mentions two players that were the leading explorers and practitioners of a certain opening, the first thing one should do is to replay all their games. For this review, I'll just show a couple, but the with ChessBase databases we can quickly find them all. The one I've selected here, are particularly nice for their tactical fireworks!


Adams is a famous player over 2700. While researching for the right game, I was impressed by the number of top players who lost when he used this opening. Quite impressive!


What's on the DVD?

Returning to review the DVD, it begins with seven videos which show the intricacies of the gambit line, based on the following moves 1. d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 d5 4.f3 Nf6 5.e4, etc.


Let's remember that Black is not obliged to accept the gambit, as in this example:


And White is not obliged to gambit the e-pawn either.

1. d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 d5 4.f3 Nf6 5.Nc3 — Gareyev mentions he played a game with this move.


I couldn't find Gareyev's game, but I found an interesting one played by Jobava!


Then the DVD continues with 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 for four videos:


Another important point when studying a new opening is to forget about memorizing "opening moves," and watch as many games as possible. The games will teach you how to play the opening. Following such idea: I found one of the GMs I've seen many times in action in few of the tournaments I played, which can be used as role model for learning the opening.


Gareyev, throughout the DVD shows important critical moments, like in the following position, Black just played 10...Bb4, try to play it as White against the engine, and see if you can obtain a good position, or even win. Try it yourself:


Play against the engine right on the diagram!

Obviously, Gareyev explains it in the DVD.

Another important exercise to practice is to play some positions following Gareyev's evaluation. In the following example, he says Black is losing. Let's see:


Many times Gareyev suggests to stop the video and think. I believe it is quite a useful exercise. In the following position, Black has just played 16...Rb8


The analysis by Gareyev often goes into the endgame. Once more one needs to practice, because Gareyev has the technique to convert the advantage into a win, but an amateur maybe doesn't. Black just played 21...a6 can you win against Fritz?


I don't want to make the review too long, because I like to focus more on training, positions, and games. However, there are another six videos divide into three different sections to cover all the moves Black can try. There are also eleven interactive videos, in which Gareyev presents a position, and asks viewers to find the right continuation, and giving feedback.


Interactive questions and answers!

Last but not least the DVD comes with a database of 50 model games, and the small database of opening theory, on which the videos are based. This second database is the one we would keep updated after a tournament game, or review before a tournament to see if we remember most of the lines. Eventually this last small database can also serve as a blueprint to test ourselves before a tournament, playing each line against an engine, so we can gain some experience of the problems we could face in a  tournament game.

Often we don't understand right away the benefit of a DVD like this one, because we think it is only related to learning an opening. Instead, I think to have a GM of Gareyev's level share his ideas and experiences can be quite useful for our overall chess improvement. For instance while commenting on this variation 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 d5 4.f3 Nf6 5.e4, Gareyev said he met this line when he was going for his first GM norm, 10 years before, and played 5...e6.

This is a reason one should have the DVD: we learn from a top player including personal insights which are generally not shared. The fact he remembered a game played 10 years before could mean he really deeply analyzes all his games, or it could mean he has a good memory, or it could mean he periodically spends time reviewing his old games reinforcing opening ideas, and middlegame themes he played. In any case we see how serious is a player thinks, and if we are interested in becoming master level players, we should try to emulate that. This is something you can't get from a book — you need to see the person, listen to him, see his body language — that gives us a different level of understanding.

Final Thoughts

I hope this review has helped the reader to enter the world of the Trompowsky! It was pleasant and intellectually challenging to see GM Gareyev at work, discovering the amount of opening ideas and lines he remembers. At a certain point, I also felt he was even making some lines up while recording the video, which showed me how fast his GM brain is! Definitely on another level, compared to us amateurs! I certainly came out from watching this DVD as a better player, and hope to be able to see in the future other products made by GM Gareyev, because I want to exploit his creativity in my own games!

Trompowsky for the attacking player

Tap into your creative mind and start the game on a fresh note. The Trompowsky (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5) is an opening outside of conventional wisdom. Create challenges and make your opponent solve problems early on.


Davide is a novel chess aficionado who has made chess his spiritual tool of improvement and self-discovery. One of his favorite quotes is from the great Paul Keres: "Nobody is born a master. The way to mastery leads to the desired goal only after long years of learning, of struggle, of rejoicing, and of disappointment..."


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