The Torre Attack is a system opening for white in the Queen’s Pawn Opening, known for its distinctive setup of d4-Nf3-Bg5 within the first three moves, tailored to counter various responses by black. A typical initial move sequence could be 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 or 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bg5.
This opening was famously employed by the first Mexican Grandmaster, Carlos Jesús Torre Repetto, against the second World Chess Champion, Emanuel Lasker.
Winning percentages on both sides
|Win for white
|Win for black
The Torre Attack employs a straightforward setup of minor pieces centered around a clear objective, often a kingside attack. This simplicity renders the opening easily accessible for learning and play without delving into the nitty-gritty of theoretical discussions. Particularly suitable for those seeking positions from the Queen’s Pawn Opening, the Torre Attack adeptly avoids the complex theoretical paths that often arise in the wake of the Queen’s Gambit. By refraining from advancing the c4 pawn, white effectively diminishes the potency of Bb4+, a prominent concept found in mainstream openings like the Bogo-Indian Defense, Nimzo-Indian Defense, and Queen’s Indian Defense.
The Colle System and Torre Attack share similar pawn structures and piece positioning, differing mainly in the placement of the dark-squared bishop – outside the pawn chain in Torre Attack, and on c1 or via b2 in the Colle System. In Torre Attack, the critical squares are e4 and e5, and white reinforces the d4 pawn with c2-c3 before orchestrating a harmonious piece development to support the thematic e3-e4 pawn break. Against structures where black has played …d5, white’s kingside attack often involves Ne5, f2-f4, Qf3, and Qh3, exerting pressure on h7.
Torre Attack Theory
After 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3, black’s three main options are 2…d5, 2…g6, 2…e6. Against each of these replies, white can play 3.Bg5 to enter the territory of the Torre Attack. The Torre Attack works best against 1…Nf6, 2…e6 setups, where black intends to have a Nimzo-Indian-like structure, while against 2…g6, where black goes for a King’s Indian Defense or Grünfeld Defense type of setup, 3.Bg5 is not so effective, as the f6-Knight is not pinned in those scenarios. Early …d5 in the mainline, which arises after 2…e6 3.Bg5 c5, offers white great attacking prospects with the thematic Ne5. However, in the case of 2…d5 3.Bg5, black has the annoying 3…Ne4, also known as Gossip Variation, which might ruin the party for white as the bishop now has to move back.
Main Line: 3…c5
The Torre Attack is often initiated with the sequence 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3, which provides flexibility for white, enabling a potential transposition to openings like the Catalan Defense after moves like 2…d5 3.c4 e6 4.g3 dxc4 5.Bg2.
Opting for 2.Nf3 instead of 2.c4 has the primary advantage of avoiding hypermodern openings such as the Nimzo-Indian Defense. Following 2…e6, the hallmark move of the Torre Attack, 3.Bg5, is played by white to pin and neutralize the knight on f6, thereby reducing black’s influence over the e4 square. Black typically counters with 3…c5, efficiently targeting the center. White will defend the pawn on d4 with 4.e3, subsequently reinforcing it with c3, a rationale behind the knight development to d2 instead of c3.
Black’s main continuations include 4…Be7, releasing the pinned knight, or 4…Qb6, known as the Poisoned Pawn Variation, which targets the now unguarded b2 pawn.
The most popular continuation for black is 4…Be7, preparing to castle and resolving the pin. At the same time, black would be happy to play …Ne4 to trade off the bishops. White usually prevents this idea with 5.Nbd2. Oftentimes, black refrains from playing …d5, which would leave the e5 square weak, and instead prefers d7-d6 to control that square. Since …d5 is not the preferred method for black to control e4, black rather fianchettoes the bishop on the queenside for this purpose: 5…b6 6.Bd3 Bb7. After white bolsters d4 with 7.c3, black usually wants to resolve the central tension as early as possible to determine the structure and continue developing based on how white recaptures on d4. So after 7…cxd4, white can recapture the pawn two ways, but 8.exd4 is more preferred over 8.cxd4 Nc6 9.a3. 8.exd4 allows white to seize control of the semi-open e-file after 8…d6 9.0-0 Nbd7 10.Re1 and usually leading to Hedgehog like structure after 10…0-0 11.a4 a6
Now white has a variety of plans to carry out: 12.Qe2, preventing Rc8 or b5, 12…Re8 13.h3 Nf8 14.Bxf6 Bxf6 and trying to put pressure on black’s pawns on b6 and d6 is one possibility.
An Alternative way to attempt the same idea would be 12.Nc4 Re8 13.Bf4.
Additionally, a knight maneuver with 12.Nf1 followed by Ng3, Nd2,Nde4 is another idea to control the e4 square.
The Poisoned Pawn Variation: 4…Qb6
Black may attempt to punish white quickly for playing the Torre Attack, by playing the multi-purpose move 4…Qb6, hitting white’s pawn, which is left unguarded after 3.Bg5, and getting out of the pin at the same time. The downside of this move is that the queen now blocks b6-b7 and therefore hindering a queenside fianchetto. White may try to highlight the queen’s misplacement on b6 by simply defending the b2 pawn with 5.Qc1. A sample line that demonstrates the development issue for black’s light bishop would be 5…Ne4 6.Bf4 Nc6 7.c3 d5 8.Nbd2 Nxd2 9.Qxd2 Be7 10.Bd3 Bd7 11.0-0.
Alternatively, white can also give up the b2 pawn for a dynamic compensation with 5.Nbd2. For example, after 5…Qxb2 6.Bxf6 gxf6 7.Bd3 Qb6 8.0-0 Be7, white has the brilliant idea of positional sacrifice with 9.d5! If black does not capture, white will just get a strong center with e4, and after 9…exd5, the weakness on the f5-square can now be exploited with 10.Nh4
Nimzowitsch Variation: 3…h6
Black can try to chase the bishop away with 3…h6, but it usually leads to positions similar to the ones that arise from the Trompowsky Attack after 4.Bxf6 Qxf6 5.e4 g5 and if 4.Bh4, then it transposes to a version of the mainline with …h6 included: 4.Bh4 c5 5.e3 b6 6.Nbd2 Bb7 8.Bd3 Be7 8.c3.
Gossip Variation: 3…Ne4
With the move order 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6, the Torre Attack does not give white much edge at all because of 3.Bg5 Ne4.
3.Bg5 would have worked if black chose to play routinely and continue with 3…e6 4.e3 Be7 5.Nbd2 0-0 6.Bd3 c5 7.c3 and now white can get a comfortable attack with the thematic ideas of Torre Attack: 7…Nbd7 8.0-0 b6 9.Ne5 Bb7 10.Qf3 Ne8 11.Qh3 f5 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.f4.
However, with 3…Ne4, black dislodges white’s bishop and therefore disrupts white’s typical attacking ideas beforehand. Retreating the bishop to h4 does not make much sense due to 4.Bh4 c5 5.e3 Qb6 6.Qc1 Nc6 7.c3 Bf5 and now the bishop on h4 is not serving any purpose.
On the other hand, 4.Bf4 is like a bad version of the London System, where white has lost a bit of time. In contrast to the Poisoned Pawn Variation with 4…Qb6, in this version black’s bishop can easily get into the game via f5 after 4…c5 5.e3 Qb6 6.Qc1 (6.Nbd2 does not work well with …Ne4, e.g. 6…Nxd2 7.Nxd2 cxd4 8.exd4 Qxb2)
Trap in Torre Attack
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 c5 4.e4, cannot be captured due to the pin Qb6 5.Nbd2 Qxb2?? 6.Nc4 Qb4+ 7.c3 Qxc3 8.Bd2 and the queen is trapped and now we can see the difference between white’s e4 and e3.
Pros and Cons
|Offers an easy-to-play attacking setup with minimal opening theory.
|Does not give white any advantage against kingside fianchetto setups when there is no pin on f6.
|allows white to avoid most of the Hypermodern Openings.
|The Gossip Variation forces white out of their usual Torre Attack setup.
The Torre Attack derives its primary potency from the pin on the f6 knight, a key feature in black’s setups involving …e6. Particularly, variations with early …d5 enable white to launch a thematic kingside assault, typically commencing with the e4 pawn break or reinforcing the kingside with Ne5-f4-Qf3-Qh3. Nonetheless, white should remain cautious of black’s robust setups against the Torre Attack, which can mitigate white’s edge. Hence, it’s advisable to steer clear of rigidly adhering to the Torre Attack in such instances.