When you have an irregular and slightly dubious opening in your repertoire, the most important thing is to give it up before it turns against you. Julian Hodgson learnt that lesson at the Mermaid Beach Grandmasters tournament in Bermuda this week when he played one Trompowsky too many.

The event is a curious match between two 10-player teams representing Europe and the Americas. After nine rounds, the Europeans are trailing by 411/2 to 481/2, and the Americans have had no quicker point that that scored by Gurevich when Hodgson's favourite Trompowsky attack failed him.

Curiously enough, 9.Qd2 is described as dubious in Hodgson's own recent monograph on this opening. White's enforced sacrifice of the exchange will be justified only if he can trap the black queen in the corner, but after 14...b5! White had no good move: 15.Qxb5 Ba6 or 15.Bxb5 Be6 let Black extricate his queen without problems, while 15.Bxf7+ Rxf7 16.Na3 fails simply to 16...Qxc3+. When 16.Bd5 was met by Be6, White could have resigned at once. His 18.Rc1 was a last ditch attempt to catch the queen by making the threat of Na3 real, but Black's Q-side pawns came quickly to the rescue and saved her majesty's life.

White: Julian Hodgson

Black: Dmitri Gurevich

Trompowsky Opening

1 d4 Nf6 11 Qb3 Qxa1

2 Bg5 Ne4 12 e4 Bg7

3 Bf4 c5 13 Bc4 0-0

4 f3 Qa5+ 14 Kd2 b5

5 c3 Nf6 15 Bd5 Be6

6 d5 g6 16 Rc1 Bxd5

7 Nh3 d6 17 exd5 b4

8 Nf2 Qb6 18 Kd1 c4

9 Qd2 Nxd5 White resigned

10 Qxd5 Qxb2

As Viswanathan Anand showed in his final slow time-limit game against Anatoly Karpov in Lausanne last month, the Trompowsky can be a good surprise weapon if you wish to lead a well-prepared opponent into unfamiliar territory. Even he, however, learnt that it is unwise to trust it a second time. They say that 2.c4 is rather a good alternative. It's time for Hodgson to give it a try.