Torre Attack – The Ultimate Opening Guide for White & Black

The Torre Attack is a dangerous weapon for white against one of Black’s favorite moves against 1.d4, namely 1…Nf6.

  • The Torre Attack works particularly well if black continues with 2…e6 because 3.Bg5 pins the knight.
  • Since in many openings, including the Torre Attack, the e4 advance is crucial for white, pinning the knight on f6 makes it easier to play e4.
  • Many players defending against 1.d4 are well-prepared against 2.c4 but much less prepared to meet the Torre Attack.
  • Against unprepared opponents, white can generate an excellent kingside attack.

Ideas Behind The Torre Attack

The Torre Attack, named after Mexican GM Carlos Torre, begins with the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5

The starting position of the Torre Attack after 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5

GM Carlos Torre was willing to play this opening against the best in the world. One of his most notable victories was against Emmanuel Lasker in 1925

You avoid facing the Nimzo-Indian, Bogo-Indian, and Queen’s Indian Defenses by playing the Torre Attack.

Many more chess games begin with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 than 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3. According to the database at lichess.org, 2.c4 is played over three times more often than 2.Nf3.

The advantage of c4 is it helps white control the center, but it does nothing to help develop a piece, nor is it a developing move. In the Torre Attack, white develops two pieces (a knight and a bishop) within the first three moves.

The knight on f3 defends the d4-pawn and helps control the e5-square. Pinning the f6-knight weakens Black’s control of the e4-square.

White also threatens to exchange a crucial defender of the black kingside with Bxf6. This exchange is particularly dangerous since white often develops his light-squared bishop to d3, where it aims at h7.

Torre Attack 3…h6

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 h6

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3…h6 is a natural response to 3.Bg5 and ensures the bishop-pair advantage for black.

There is little sense in retreating the bishop with 4.Bh4 because black can win the bishop pair with 4…g5 and 5…Nh5 wins the bishop pair.

Time is an essential factor in the opening, so rather than waste time with a retreat, white captures on f6 immediately.

White’s compensation for giving up the bishop pair lies in greater central control, a lead in development, and a space advantage.

Taking control of the center is a logical first step.

4.Bxf6 Qxf6 5.e4 d6 6.Nc3 Nd7

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Black is rightly doing everything he can to prevent e5, which can lead to opening up the d-file. If the d-file gets opened, the knight on d7 becomes an object of attack with moves like Bb5, Qd2, and long castle.

7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 Qd8 9.h4 b5 10.g4 c5

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The queen’s retreat to d8 might seem strange, but black intends to bring the queen over to join in the attack on the queenside. Here we see a classic case of players launching a pawn storm on opposite sides of the board.

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Black Plays In Queen’s Gambit Style

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 d5 4.Nbd2 Be7 5.e3 b6 6.Bd3 c5

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This classical pawn structure chosen by black is not the best option. The d5-pawn does more to hinder Black’s counterplay because the a8-h1 diagonal is blocked.

All of the moves played by black are natural moves, as are the moves by white. These simple, natural moves make the opening easier to play.

In many instances, black castles long while white castles short. Once again, we have the excitement generated by opposite side castling.

7.c3 Bb7 8.0-0 Nbd7 9.Ne5 Nxe5 10.dxe5 Nd7 11.Bxe7 Qxe7 12.f4 0-0-0

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In the next game, Alexey Dreev shows us how to conduct the attack when black castles long and we have opposite side castling.

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White Sets A Trap in the Torre Attack

One dangerous trap in this variation has proven effective because it involves the action taking place on the opposite side of the board and involves Qa4 and Ne5.

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 d5 4.Nbd2 Be7 5.e3 b6 6.Bd3 c5 7.c3 Bb7 8.0-0

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Now, if black continues with the natural developing move 8…0-0, White plays 9.Qa4 and meets 9…Nbd7 with 10.Ne5

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The trap is set, and if black carelessly captures the knight on e5 white wins after 10…Nxe5 11.dxe5 Nd7 12.Qh4 threatening Bxe7 forking the queen and rook, and Qxh7 checkmate!

Torre Attack Versus the King’s Indian / Grunfeld Setup

Against the King’s Indian Defense and Grunfeld Defense setups, the Torre Attack becomes less effective. Theoretically, black has little trouble equalizing, but you can use the Torre Attack to draw black into unfamiliar territory.

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bg5 Bg7 4.Nbd2 d5

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Black has three main strategic plans to choose from in this position:

  1. Play in the center with …c5.
  2. Aim for an e5 pawn break.
  3. Go for …Ne4 supported with a queenside fianchetto.

One of the most challenging lines continues:

5.e3 0-0 6.Bd3 c5 7.c3 Qb6 8.Rb1 Nc6 9.0-0 Re8 10.b4

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Despite this being an equal position, there remains a game to be played. The position offers both sides the chance to play for a win in the middlegame, and that is all one can realistically ask from your chosen opening.

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In Conclusion

The Torre Attack is a dangerous weapon in your opening repertoire, but it is unrealistic to think it is all you need. Against …Nf6 and …e6, you will find the Torre Attack a highly effective opening that often leads to early wins.

There is not a lot of opening theory to learn in the Torre Attack, so spending a little time learning it will serve you well. Taking your opponent into unfamiliar territory can tip the balance between players of equal playing strength.

Combining the Torre Attack with other 1.d4 2.Nf3 openings will make it harder for your opponents to prepare for you while keeping you within system-based openings with similar ideas.

Torre Attack Frequently Asked Questions

Is Torre Attack a good opening?

Yes, the Torre Attack is a good opening, and it is more than a surprise weapon. The Torre Attack allows white to develop quickly and place the pieces on active squares. The strategy is easy to remember and involves natural moves.

Who invented the Torre Attack?

The Torre Attack is named after the first Mexican chess player to achieve the rank of grandmaster, Carlos Torre.

How to beat the Torre Attack?

The Torre Attack is particularly effective against defenses involving …e6, like the Queen’s Gambit and Nimzo-Indian Defense. Thus, one of the best ways of playing against the Torre Attack is with a King’s Indian Defense approach.
For example: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bg5 Bg7 4.Nbd2 0-0 5.e4 and now black must challenge the center with either 5…c5 or 5…d5.

What is the move order of Torre Attack?

The Torre Attack begins with the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bg5

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