The Dutch Stonewall

Playing Black against QP openings

An Exeter Junior Chess Club Booklet

P.S. I had another think about this and the Cambridge springs and came up with the more comprehensive Playing Black against 1. d4 booklet, which has more examples and variations, including Unusual variations of the Dutch Defence. That is for better players and older juniors, I think; this one is just to get you started.

The Stonewall as White

Reuben Fine gives this magnificent line as an example of what you are trying to do in the Stonewall system: 1. d4 d5 2. e3 Nf6 3. Bd3

 3... c5

 4. c3 Nc6 5. f4

t+lDjL-T
Xx+-XxXx
-+s+-S-+
+-Xx+-+-
-+-P-P-+
+-PbP-+-
pP-+-+pP
RnBqK-Nr

This the basic Stonewall set-up.
5... e6 blocks the Bc8
6. Nf3 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. Ne5 Qc7

 9. Nd2 Re8 10. g4

t+l+t+j+
XxD-+xXx
-+sLxS-+
+-XxN-+-
-+-P-Pp+
+-PbP-+-
pP-N-+-P
R-Bq+rK-

with a crushing attack

 Great! Got the idea? Well, it's not always like that, Black has several improvements: 1. d4 d5 2. e3 Nf6 3. Bd3

 [3. f4 is sometimes played to avoid the 3...Nc6 line]

 3... c5

 [3... Nc6 4. f4

 [4. c3 e5]

 4... Nb4 5. Nf3 Nxd3+ 6. cxd3 g6 7. Nc3 Bg7 8. O-O O-O=]

 4. c3 Nc6 5. f4

 5... e6 blocks the Bc8

 so [5... Bg4 6. Nf3 e6 7. Nbd2 Bd6 8. h3 Bh5 9. b3 cxd4 10. cxd4 Rc8

-+tDj+-T
Xx+-+xXx
-+sLxS-+
+-+x+-+l
-+-P-P-+
+p+bPn+p
p+-N-+p+
R-BqK-+r

and Black is comfortable]

 6. Nf3 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. Ne5 Qc7

 Ne5 needs some better response; Black could also try to occupy e4

 Anyhow, that's the inspiration. Pillsbury even found a way to impose this sort of attack on the Queen's Gambit, with the Bc1 developed actively at g5, and this idea is worth looking at one day too.

The Stonewall as Black

 Because of these improved Black lines, you don't see the Stonewall Opening much, and, since Black has also learned how to play the Queen's Gambit Declined, you don't see the related Pillsbury formation often either. One place where the Stonewall formation will not go away is Black playing it in the Dutch Defence. Why hasn't this line died too?

 White, starting first, is usually trying to get an advantage and won't play just to equalise with moves like Bf4, Bxd6, Ne5 and f4. Instead, White will often adopt an attacking formation on the Queen's side to start with and so there is a tendency for each side to attack on opposite sides.

 White often plays g3 and Bg2, creating a slow game with a slightly weakened King's side. Black can hope to get the ...f4 break in at some point.

 This may help explain why you see the Stonewall is a better idea played a move behind in the Dutch Defence than played straight away as White. Perhaps the real reason is that World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik kept playing and winning with it for decades. Take a look at this:

Rabinovitch - Botvinnik (Ussr Ch'p, 1927)

 1. d4 e6 2. c4 f5 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 Be7 5. Nc3 O-O 6. Nf3 d5 7. O-O c6 8. Qc2 Qe8 9. Bf4 Qh5 10. Rad1 Nbd7 11. b3 Ne4 12. Ne5 Ng5

 [12... Bf6 is better, says MB]

 13. h4

 [13. f3 Nh3+ 14. Bxh3 Qxh3 15. e4 += MB]

 13... Ne4 14. Bf3 Qe8 15. Nxd7 Bxd7 16. Kg2 Bb4

t+-+dTj+
Xx+l+-Xx
-+x+x+-+
+-+x+x+-
-LpPsB-P
+pN-+bP-
p+q+pPk+
+-+r+r+-

White seems to have defended more than got on with his own plans. He now makes a mistake: 17. Bxe4 ?

 17... fxe4 18. Rh1 Qh5 19. f3 Qg6 20. Kf1 e5 21. dxe5 Rxf4 22. gxf4

t+-+-+j+
Xx+l+-Xx
-+x+-+d+
+-+xP-+-
-Lp+xP-P
+pN-+p+-
p+q+p+-+
+-+r+k+r

Black has some clear achievements: the open g-file, the two bishops, the upset White King.

 22... Qg3 threats ...Bc5/...e3

 23. Nxe4 dxe4 24. Rxd7 Bc5 25. e3 Qxf3+ 26. Qf2 Qxh1+ 27. Ke2 Qh3 28. f5 Qg4+ 29. Kd2 Rf8 30. e6 Qxf5 31. Qxf5 Rxf5 32. Rxb7 Rf2+ 33. Ke1 Rf6 34. b4 Bxe3 0-1

 Another decisive King's side attack:

Steiner - Botvinnik, Groningen, 1946

1. d4 e6 2. c4 f5 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Nf3 d5 7. Nc3 c6 8. O-O O-O 9. Bf4 Qe8 10. Qc2 Qh5 11. Rae1 Nbd7 12. Nd2

 Aiming at e4, but too slowly. Another plan is to attack c6 with the b-pawn.

 12... g5 13. Bc7 Ne8 14. Be5 Nxe5 15. dxe5 f4

 Black's plans are well-advanced; e4 will now be answered by ..f3

 16. gxf4 gxf4 17. Nf3 Kh8 18. Kh1 Ng7 19. Qc1 Bd7 20. a3 Rf7 21. b4 Rg8

-+-+-+tJ
Xx+lLtSx
-+x+x+-+
+-+xP-+d
-Pp+-X-+
P-N-+n+-
-+-+pPbP
+-Q-Rr+k

Making use of the open g-file

 22. Rg1 Nf5 23. Nd1 Rfg7

-+-+-+tJ
Xx+lL-Tx
-+x+x+-+
+-+xPs+d
-Pp+-X-+
P-+-+n+-
-+-+pPbP
+-QnR-Rk

Black has a winning position

 24. Qxf4 Rg4 25. Qd2 Nh4 26. Ne3 Nxf3 27. exf3 Rh4 28. Nf1 Bg5

-+-+-+tJ
Xx+l+-+x
-+x+x+-+
+-+xP-Ld
-Pp+-+-T
P-+-+p+-
-+-Q-PbP
+-+-RnRk

 if the Q moves, ...Bf4 forces mate, so... 0-1

 Here's an important game against a powerful rival.

Flohr - Botvinnik (10) Match, 1933

1. d4 e6 2. c4 f5 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 Be7 5. Nc3 d5 6. Nf3 c6 7. O-O O-O 8. b3

 [8. Bf4 is better, says Botvinnink, or 8. Qc2 Qe8 9. Bg5 with Bxf6]

 8... Qe8 9. Bb2 Nbd7 10. Qd3

 [ 10. Ng5 Bd6 11. f4 Botvinnik]

 10... Qh5 11. cxd5

 [11. Bc1 Botvinnik]

 11... exd5 12. Nd2

 [12. Ne1 and f4]

 12... Ne4 13. f3

 [13. f4 is now met by 13... Nxd2 14. Qxd2 Nf6 when White cannot really hope to get the N to e5]

 13... Nxc3 14. Bxc3 f4 ! 15. Rfe1 Bd6 16. Nf1 Rf7 17. e3 fxg3 18. Nxg3 Qh4 19. Nf1 Nf6 20. Re2 Bd7 21. Be1 Qg5 22. Bg3 Bxg3 23. Nxg3 h5!

t+-+-+j+
Xx+l+tX-
-+x+-S-+
+-+x+-Dx
-+-P-+-+
+p+qPpN-
p+-+r+bP
R-+-+-K-

the final phase 24. f4 Qg4 25. Rf2 h4 26. Bf3

 [26. h3 Qe6 27. Nf1 Ne4 is still -+]

 26... hxg3 27. Bxg4 gxf2+ 28. Kg2 Nxg4 29. h3 Nf6 30. Kxf2 Ne4+ 0-1

 And lastly, a more complicated game from an early tournament:

Yudovitch - Botvinnik, Leningrad 1934

1. c4 f5 2. d4 Nf6 3. g3 e6 4. Bg2 Be7 5. Nf3 d5 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 c6 8. Qc2 Qe8 9. Bf4

 [9. Bg5 Chekhover]

 9... Qh5 10. b3 Nbd7 11. Rad1 Kh8 12. Kh1 a loss of tempo, and perhaps not even a better square

 12... Rg8 13. e3 g5 14. Bc7 Ne8 15. Be5+ Nxe5 16. Nxe5 Nf6 17. f3

t+l+-+tJ
Xx+-L-+x
-+x+xS-+
+-+xNxXd
-+pP-+-+
+pN-PpP-
p+q+-+bP
+-+r+r+k

the right plan

 17... Bd6 18. e4 Nd7 19. g4

 [19. Nxd7 Bxg3]

 19... Qe8 20. Nxd7 Bxd7 21. e5 Bb4 22. gxf5 exf5 23. cxd5

t+-+d+tJ
Xx+l+-+x
-+x+-+-+
+-+pPxX-
-L-P-+-+
+pN-+p+-
p+q+-+bP
+-+r+r+k

23... Bxc3 24. dxc6 risky 24... Bxc6 25. Qxc3 Qe6 26. Qd2 Bd5 27. Rc1 Rg7 28. Rc2 f4 29. Qc1 Rag8 30. h3 h5 31. Kg1 g4 32. hxg4 hxg4 33. Kf2 Rh7 34. Rh1 g3+ 35. Ke1 Rxh1+ 36. Bxh1 Qh6 37. Bg2

 the last move before the time-check 37... Bc6

 [37... Be6]

 38. a4 Bd7 going for complications instead

 [38... Bd5]

 39. d5 Bf5 40. Rc7 Qh2 41. Qb2 Qg1+ 42. Bf1 Qe3+ 43. Be2 Be6 44. Qc2 Rg7

-+-+-+-J
XxR-+-T-
-+-+l+-+
+-+pP-+-
p+-+-X-+
+p+-DpX-
-+q+b+-+
+-+-K-+-

45. dxe6

 [45. Rc8+ Bg8 46. Qf5 and Rxg8+, getting perpetual]

 45... Qf2+ 46. Kd2 Qd4+ controlling d8 47. Ke1 Rxc7 0-1


 It's rare that you get the chance to play the Stonewall and related formations in the King-pawn openings, but as you improve you will meet more players who use this 1.d4 line. They are well worth knowing about, if only to enjoy these terrific games!

 Robert Bellin wrote a good book on the Classical Dutch which is now sadly out-of-print; otherwise you might want to consult a book like BCO2 for the latest piece placements and move orders.

 The Stonewall has in fact undergone something of a resurgence recently, with top GMs like Short and Yusupov adding it to their repertoire. The modern treatment for both sides has improved: Whites now know about Petrosian's idea of installing Knights on f3 and d3 where they support both White's attack and defence; similarly, players of Black have experimented with different placings of the Bishops, trying out the Bc8 on b7 after ...b6 (thinking about ...c6-c5 later), and also playing the Bf8 to d6, which, if White tries to exchange with Bc1-a3, can be followed with ...Qd8-e7. Now, if White still insists on the exchange, the time-consuming a2-a4 and Nb1xa3-c2 are necessary. With this time available, Black can think about ...e6-e5. If White hasn't met the Dutch defence before, it's likely they will just play their usual old moves: the London system, the classical system or a Gambit.

 The London system d2-d4, Ng1-f3, Bc1-f4 is just asking for Black to play ...e7-e5, with a good game.

 If White plays a classical Queen's Pawn game with d2-d4 c2-c4 Ng1-f3 Nb1-c3 Bc1-g5 e2-e3 Bf1-d3 Black can get a good game with normal Dutch moves:

 1.d4 f5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 0-0 6.Bd3 b6 7.Nge2 Bb7 8.0-0 Nh5 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Ng3 Nxg3 11.hxg3 d6 12.f4 Nc6= (0-1,54) Harrwitz,D - Morphy,P (5) Paris match, 1858.

 1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 f5 3.c4 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nc3 0-0 6.e3 b6 7.Bd3 Bb7 8.0-0 Qe8 9.Qe2 Ne4 10.Bxe7 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Qxe7 12.a4 Bxf3 13.Qxf3 Nc6 14.Rfb1 Rae8 =+ (1-0,52) Capablanca,Jose - Tartakower,Savielly [A40] New York (06), 1924. White went on to win this famous ending, but according to Robert Bellin, sometime British Champion and longtime Dutch defender, Black has the advantage because of his better Pawn structure.

Chess Quotes

"The scheme of a game is played on positional lines, the decision of it is, as a rule, effected by combinations. This is how Lasker's pronouncement that positional play is the preparation for combinations is to be understood."
— Richard RETI