Trompowsky Attack

The Trompowsky Attack is an opening that begins with the Queen’s Pawn Opening (1.d4), in which Black responds with 1…Nf6 and the White side goes the early 2.Bg5.

Trompowsky Attack

It was popularized in the early 1900s by a Brazilian chess master with the same name. White often seeks to avoid the early complications and deep preparation the enemy might possess. Nowadays, it is played by many of the best players in the world, including the former World Champion Magnus Carlsen.

Winning Percentage on Both Sides

Master Games Statistics

Results Rate
Victory for White 34%
Draw 37%
Victory for Black 29%

Statistics from 9 Million Amateur Games

Results Rate
Victory for White 49%
Draw 5%
Victory for Black 46%

Main Ideas

The main goal of this opening is to double the enemy’s pawns (by capturing the f6-Knight). At least, it is the obvious threat; however, it primarily avoids deep theoretical battles by allowing both sides to develop their pieces flexibly.

Black typically aims to go for d5- and c5-pawn pushes and create an ideal pawn break to have open files for their Rooks. These games often transition to strategic games and might require understanding pawn structures and positional aspects of the game.

Trompowsky Attack Theory

The main line often leads to positions where both sides make reactive moves and look for the enemy’s mistakes. White can have a space advantage, and Black can assault the rival’s central pawn chain.

The Raptor Variation of the main line often leads to positions where White tries to expand in the Kingside while Black tries to kick their minor pieces and limit their options.

The 2…c5 line allows White to double Black’s pawns by capturing the f6-Knight. This variation typically allows White to expand in the center while Black aims to strike the weak squares White possesses.

The Classical Variation often leads to positions where both sides maneuver their pieces slowly and try to have the best pawn break to create attacking opportunities.

The Main Line: 2. Bg5 Ne4

The Main line begins after Black chooses to go for 2…Ne4. By moving the f6-Knight to e4, Black seeks to assault the Bishop and keep their pawn structure intact.

Trompowsky Attack - Main Line

White typically goes for 3.Bf4 in this position to preserve their Bishop.

Once White goes for 3.Bf4, Black has two main replies. 3…d5 and 3…c5 are considered playable and can be chosen in different move orders.

3…c5 immediately allows White to have an aggressive route once they go for 4.f3 (to Kick the e4-Knight). This often gives White a central advantage after a sequence of moves such as 4…Qa5+, 5.c3 (blocking the check), 5…Nf6 (guarding the Knight) and 6.d5 (expanding in the center). White usually continues with e4, and Black tries to assault the d5-pawn with e6. Black can also play 6…Qb6 to assault the undefended b2-pawn. Then, White can either go for b3 or Bc1 back to protect it.

From there, both sides usually develop their pieces rapidly. White often seeks to utilize their central advantage, and Black tries to punish White by assaulting extended pawns.

If Black goes for the 3…d5 line, White could have different moves to reply with. 4.e3 would be a moral way of continuing since the f4-Bishop would be outside the pawn chain. Black can react with the typical 4…c5 to open up the c-file and create squares for the d8-Queen in the Queenside. Then, White can play 5.Bd3 to attack the e4-Knight. Black can ignore this threat, but in that case, they would end up with a doubled pawn on the e-file after Bxe4 occurs. Hence, the game can continue more strategically if the enemy protects the e4-Knight by returning to f6 (5…Nf6).

One sample line from 5…Nf6 could be 6.c3 (defending the d4-pawn), 6…Nc6 (developing the Knight), 7.Nd2 (having the typical d2-f3 Knight bind to create a pawn break later on), 7…Bg4 (putting the Bishop outside the pawn chain and attacking the d1-Queen), 8.Ngf3 (improving the Knight), 8…e6 (solidifying the pawn structure), 9. O-O, 9…Rc8 (putting the Rook to the c-file since it can be opened for it soon), and 10.Qa4.

White would aim to have the e4-pawn break in the final position after moves like Re1 and Ne5. Black typically either closes the Queenside (By going c4-b5 and expanding in the Queenside) or improves the position further.

Raptor Variation: 3. h4

It starts with the main line, and White plays 3.h4 instead of retreating the g5-Bishop. This move allows White to expand in Kingside.

Trompowsky Attack - Raptor Variation

If Black captures the g5-Bishop (3…Nxg5), White recaptures with the pawn (4.hxg5) and often tries to create light square weaknesses around the enemy King. One sample line could be 4…d5, 5.Nf3 (protecting the g5-pawn), 5…c6, 6.g6 (sacrificing a pawn to create weaknesses on ‘e1-h5’ diagonal), 6…fxg6 (hxg6 is not possible due to pin), 7.Nbd2, 7…e6 and 8.Ne5. White would establish a powerful outpost on e5-square and reinforce it with the other Knight (Ndf3). Black would aim to exchange the Queens, and White would try to pressure the rival as much as possible.

White typically expands on the Kingside and castles on the Queenside if Black doesn’t take on g5.

One sample line could be 3…d5 (fixing the pawns), 4.Nd2 (attacking the e4-Knight), 4…Bf5 (guarding the Knight and preparing the e6-pawn push), 5.Nxe4, 5…Bxe4, 6.f3 (kicking the Bishop). From here, White usually aims to push the pawns on the Kingside and castle Queenside.

2…c5 line

It occurs after Black responds with 2…c5.

Trompowsky Attack - c5 line

This allows White to double Black’s pawn structure after 3.Bxf6 occurs. However, the lack of a dark-squared Bishop for White could be an issue in many lines. One sample line on the Bxf6 line could be 3…gxf6, 4.d5 (expanding in the center), 4…Qb6 (typical attempt to attack the b2-pawn since the dark-squared Bishop is gone), 5.Qc1 (defending the b2-pawn), 5…f5 (preventing e4 attempts and opening up the scope of the f8-Bishop on ‘a1-h8’ diagonal), 6.c4. In this position, Black would put the f8-Bishop on g7, try to utilize its dark-squared Bishop and expose White’s weakened dark squares. White usually maneuvers their Knights, tries to control the center, and untangles the position without blundering anything on b2.

White can also play 3.Nc3 and go for the Poisoned Pawn Variation after Black goes 3…Qb6 (with the idea of Qxb2).

White may push the d-pawn to d5 and sacrifice the b2-pawn (4. d5). This pawn can be poisoned if Black doesn’t play precisely after they take the pawn. 4…Qxb2 will be met with sneaky 5.Bd2 (setting up Rb1 and Nb5 moves with tempo, the idea of threatening for Nc7+ and attacking the Queen simultaneously). Black’s best response is to return to b6 (5…Qb6), and White would have a great center with an e4-pawn push. Also, the semi-open b2-file will be useful once the a1-Rook lands on b1.

If Black blunders with a move like 5…e6, 6.Rb1 (assaulting the Queen), 6…Qa3 and 7.Nb5 would be a winning position since Nc7+ is unavoidable.

Classical Defense: 2…e6

The Classical Variation takes place after Black goes for 2…e6. White usually gives up the Bishop pair and gets central control. These games often transition to quiet positions where both sides develop their pieces and wait for their opponent’s mistakes.

Trompowsky Attack - e6

3.e4 is the most common move by White on every level. Black typically kicks the g5-Bishop (3…h6), and White usually takes the f6-Knight. It should be noted that 4.Bh4 would not be a good idea since 4…g5 and 5.Bg3 would lose the e4-pawn (5…Nxe4).

Hence, White often captures the f6 (4.Bxf6), and Black recaptures with the Queen (4…Qxf6).

One sample line could be 5.Nc3 (developing the Knight), 5…Bb4 (pinning the Knight), 6.Qd3 (protecting the Knight with the Queen to avoid doubled pawns), 6…Nc6 (improving the Knight), and 7.Nf3. A position like this would be quite balanced, White could castle both sides, and Black would play with a d6-e6 pawn structure and aim to utilize its Bishop pair by opening up the position. White would seek to expand even further and kick Black’s pieces out of their ideal locations.

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
White usually avoids the main theory of d4 openings. This opening might not be advisable for beginner players because they might need to break the main opening principles on many occasions.
White can trick Black on many occasions, such as in the Poison Pawn Variation. Black usually equalizes easily if they are precise.
White can castle on both the Kingside and the Queenside in different variations. Black can play with the Bishop pair if White takes the f6-Knight.
White can play against doubled pawns. Black can have extra pawns in many lines, and White might need to prove their advantage.

Common Trap

One common trap for Black is to take advantage of White’s loose g5-Bishop. After the Trompowsky Attack begins (1.d4, 1…Nf6 and 2.Bg5), Black can open up Queen’s scope by playing a move like 2…c6. This hidden threat should not be underestimated. If White does not protect the Bishop or capture the Knight and plays a move like 3.e3, Black can win the Bishop after 3…Qa5+.


The Trompowsky Opening is a chess opening that begins with 1.d4. It is often used to avoid a theory battle at the elite level. It often leads to calculative and strategic positions where both sides can slip if they don’t find the right move. Due to their nature, most moves are either reactive and forceful or very flexible. It is advised for beginners to learn the key concepts of positional chess before deploying this weapon in their games.

Written by
Emre Sancakli, Сhess Coach
has a rating of 2400+ on and, making him one of the top 5000 players in the world. He teaches many chess enthusiasts and even creates educational courses. As a writer, he keeps bringing his 'A game' to the content you will face on this website.
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