Trompowsky Attack - 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5

Trompowsky Attack – 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 (Opočenský Opening, Ruth Opening, the Zot)

Amongst the array of chess openings, the Trompowsky Attack stands out as a unique and intriguing choice in the Queen’s Pawn Game characterized by 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5.

Let’s look into this captivating opening and discover its history, strategy, and usage amongst various levels of chess players.

Move Order of the Trompowsky Attack

The Trompowsky Attack is an opening sequence that starts with the moves 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5.

Trompowsky Attack - 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5

The name Trompowsky Attack is derived from the second move, 2. Bg5. The move order is integral to this opening.

The pawn move 1. d4 is designed to control the center and allows for the development of the bishop and queen.

The subsequent 2. Bg5 puts the knight on f6 under pressure, aiming to disrupt Black’s game right from the outset.

Theory, Strategy and Purpose of the Trompowsky Attack

The central theme of the Trompowsky Attack is disruption.

By challenging the knight on f6 early in the game, White seeks to unsettle Black’s position.

This strategy is in stark contrast to many other d4 openings where White tends to build a strong pawn center.

The Trompowsky Attack avoids many of the standard defenses to 1. d4, forcing Black into less familiar territory.

In essence, the Trompowsky Attack is an antithesis to the hyper-modern approach, attempting to wrest control of the center from Black right from the get-go.

Variations of the Trompowsky Attack & Counters / Responses

Several variations of the Trompowsky Attack can arise, largely depending on Black’s response to 2. Bg5.

The main responses are 2…d5, 2…Ne4, and 2…e6.


2…d5 basically ignores the attack and focuses on taking control of the center. Modern engines evaluate it as an edge for black.


The 2…Ne4 variation, also known as the Raphael Variation, is aggressive and forces White’s bishop to make a decision.

2…e6 (Classical Defense)

The quieter 2…e6 allows Black to develop normally, albeit with a slight concession to White’s disruptive intent.

This is also called the Classical Defense to the Trompowsky Attack.

Trompowsky Attack - 2...e6
Trompowsky Attack – 2…e6

It is Semi-Slav-like in nature with the e6 move.

It also means if white takes the knight it doesn’t involve doubling black’s pawn structure, which can be a long-term weakness.

If white takes the knight, then black can simply recapture with the queen.

Other responses, such as 2…g6 and 2…c5, although less common, offer different dynamics and strategies.

Evaluation of the Trompowsky Attack

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 is generally evaluated around -0.10 for white.

Theory & Continuation Lines of the Trompowsky Attack

Below we can find some common theory and continuations from the Trompowsky Attack that you’d see at the highest level of play.

2… d5 3. Bxf6 exf6 4. e3 Be6 5. Nd2 g6 6. Ngf3 Nd7 7. c4 c6 8. cxd5 Bxd5 9. Bc4 Nb6 10. Bb3 Qe7 

2… d5 3. Bxf6 gxf6 4. e3 c5 5. dxc5 Nc6 6. Bb5 a6 7. Bxc6+ bxc6 8. Ne2 e5 9. O-O 

2… d5 3. Bxf6 gxf6 4. e3 c5 5. dxc5 Nc6 6. Bb5 e6 7. Nf3 Bxc5 8. O-O Bd7 9. Nbd2 Qb6 10. c4 

2… d5 3. e3 c5 4. c3 Ne4 5. Bf4 Qb6 6. Qc2 g5 7. dxc5 Qxc5 8. Be5 f6 

2… d5 3. e3 c5 4. c3 Qb6 5. Qc2 Ne4 6. Bf4 g5 7. Be5 f6 8. Bxb8 Rxb8 9. Nd2 Nd6 10. Ngf3 Bf5 11. dxc5 Qxc5 

2… d5 3. e3 c5 4. c3 Qb6 5. Qc2 Ne4 6. Bf4 Nc6 7. Nd2 Bf5 8. Nxe4 Bxe4 9. dxc5 e5 10. cxb6 Bxc2 

CRUSH People With The Trompowsky Attack!

History of the Trompowsky Attack

The Trompowsky Attack is named after Brazilian chess player Octavio Trompowsky, who popularized it in the 1940s.

However, it was seen in games as early as the late 19th century.

The Trompowsky Attack gained wider recognition when it was employed by World Champion Anatoly Karpov in the 1980s.

Since then, it has been used at every level of chess play, from club games to international grandmaster encounters.

Whether the Trompowsky Attack Is Good for Beginners or Intermediates

For beginners and intermediate players, the Trompowsky Attack can be a solid choice.

It presents an opportunity to learn about piece development, control of the center, and strategic thinking early in the game.

The strategy is less about memorization and more about understanding the game’s principles.

Therefore, it can help improve chess understanding and strategic thinking.

However, it’s worth noting that the Trompowsky Attack is slightly unconventional and may not always transpose into typical opening structures, which might limit its educational value in some respects.

How Often the Trompowsky Attack Is Played at the Grandmaster Level

While the Trompowsky Attack is not the most commonly seen opening at the grandmaster level, it is not unusual.

It’s often used as a surprise weapon to take opponents out of their usual lines and into less familiar territory.

Notable grandmasters such as Julian Hodgson, Hikaru Nakamura, and the aforementioned Anatoly Karpov have all used the Trompowsky Attack in high-level games.

FAQs – Trompowsky Attack

1. What is the Trompowsky Attack?

The Trompowsky Attack is a chess opening that begins with the moves 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5.

It was named after the Brazilian Grandmaster Octavio Trompowsky who popularized it in the mid-20th century.

It’s a flexible and aggressive option for White, which immediately puts the question to the black knight and aims to disrupt Black’s typical pawn structure.

2. What are the key strategies and goals for white in the Trompowsky Attack?

The main goal for White in the Trompowsky Attack is to control the center early with the pawn on d4 and the bishop on g5.

The immediate threat is to capture the knight on f6 and potentially double Black’s pawns after …gxf6.

In some variations, White also seeks to damage Black’s kingside pawn structure or lure Black into a less familiar position.

3. How does Black typically respond to the Trompowsky Attack?

Black has several options to counter the Trompowsky.

The two main responses are 2…e6 and 2…Ne4.

With 2…e6, Black prepares to develop the bishop to e7 to break the pin.

On the other hand, 2…Ne4 challenges White’s bishop immediately.

Other less common but reasonable responses include 2…d5 and 2…c5, both aiming to strike at the center immediately.

4. How does the Trompowsky Attack compare to other openings after 1. d4 Nf6?

Unlike the more traditional choices of 2. c4 (leading to the Indian Defenses) or 2. Nf3 (preparing for the Queen’s Gambit or King’s Indian), the Trompowsky Attack with 2. Bg5 takes the game into less charted territory early on.

It can lead to imbalanced positions that may potentially benefit the more prepared player.

5. What are some key games or matches in which the Trompowsky Attack was successfully deployed?

The Trompowsky Attack has been used successfully in high-level play by several grandmasters, including Julian Hodgson and Mikhail Gurevich.

Perhaps one of the most notable games was between Veselin Topalov and Garry Kasparov in the 1996 Linares tournament, where Topalov, as White, successfully used the Trompowsky Attack to defeat Kasparov.

6. Is the Trompowsky Attack suitable for beginner players?

The Trompowsky Attack can be an excellent choice for beginner and intermediate players because it often leads to open positions that emphasize fundamental principles like control of the center, quick development, and safety of the king.

It also offers an aggressive option that can throw opponents off their preparation.

7. Can the Trompowsky Attack transpose into other common openings?

While the Trompowsky is known for creating unique positions, it can sometimes transpose into other common openings.

For instance, if Black responds with 2…d5 and 3…c5, the game could transpose into the Queen’s Gambit or a type of Semi-Tarrasch Defense.

However, one of the key points of the Trompowsky is to try to keep the game in less familiar territory.

8. What are some common traps or tactics in the Trompowsky Attack?

There are various tactical themes that can arise from the Trompowsky.

For example, if Black responds carelessly, White can exploit the bishop pin on the knight to damage the pawn structure on the kingside.

There are also tricks related to exploiting Black’s lack of control over the e5 square, allowing for a potential knight or queen intrusion.

9. How does the Trompowsky Attack impact the endgame?

The impact on the endgame in the Trompowsky Attack depends largely on how the middlegame unfolds.

If White succeeds in causing structural damage to Black’s pawn formation, the resulting endgame can be very favorable for White.

However, if Black manages to defend accurately, the opening of the position can lead to dynamic endgames.

10. What resources can help me learn and practice the Trompowsky Attack?

There are many online and offline resources available to learn the Trompowsky Attack.

Chess books like “The Trompowsky Attack: Move by Move” by Neil McDonald can be very helpful.

Studying grandmaster games can also be very insightful.

Coaching from a professional chess coach is also recommended for tailored learning.


The Trompowsky Attack, with its early disruption and unique strategic undertones, holds a distinctive place in the realm of chess openings.

Although it may not be the most frequently employed strategy at the highest levels of the game, it is by no means a less effective one.

Whether you’re a beginner looking to explore diverse opening structures or an intermediate player aiming to throw your opponent off guard, the Trompowsky Attack offers exciting opportunities for the strategic mind.

As with any chess opening, the key to mastering the Trompowsky Attack lies in understanding its purpose, recognizing its variations, and practicing it in actual games.

As your familiarity with this opening grows, so too will your ability to utilize it effectively in your chess battles.

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