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At club level, I often find myself facing the Bird Opening 1.f4, often followed by a stonewall setup for white.
I find it hard to believe White can secure any serious advantage with that move. Recently, I've taken up From's Gambit to combat it. After 1. f4 e5 2. fxe5 d6 3. exd6 Lxd6 4. Nf3, Black has three basic options.
A) 4. ...Bg4, which doesn't put enough pressure on white's position. White consolidates and will have a strong center. See this discussion on the variation with Bg4.
B) The Lasker variation 4. ...g5, which sets a bunch of traps but with accurate defense, white seems better.
C) Finally, there's the Mestel variation 4. ...Nf6 (Main threat: Ng4-xh2, followed by Bg3+) I have found it playable, but tricky. Here's a recent game of mine.
It was fun to play that game.
But if my opponent doesn't slip up, I often find myself in trouble due to my uncastled king. Play is very sharp, every move counts and I never find time to castle without losing. It is very very messy and it just doesn't seem worth the sacrificed pawn. Also, in some variations, white has perpetual check at will, so it isn't even a line to play for the win!
Here's the question. Should I scrap the entire line (and with it, From's Gambit itself, because the other lines are even weaker)?
If yes, what is a better and less critical way to play strongly against the Bird? I'd like to avoid the tedious Stonewall setup for white, if possible.
King's Indian shouldn't work badly against the Bird. But keep in mind that a change of territory could hurt you more than playing a slightly worse opening. 1. f4 e5 2. e4!? and there we have a King's Gambit! And although Black should be able to equalize in the King's Gambit easier than in the From's Gambit, you'd still do good to prepare for it! Have fun!
If you like positional games, play the double-Bird (1.f4 f5). If you don't like positional games, play it anyway to learn something about them :). The Stonewall-lovers on the other side of the board usually don't enjoy the double, and because they rarely see it they may not be prepared.
When intending the Stonewall Attack, experienced players begin with 1.d4 to avoid weird sidelines like the From.
I should have said "Double Stonewall" above.
I never get to play the black side of 1. f4. I used to play it as white, and I studied From's Gambit to be prepared for it. As black, I'd go for the Mestel variation, if it ever comes up.
I won't recommend whether or not to give up From's vs. Bird's.
But I will say, if you continue playing From's you must be ready to defend the King's Gambit if White transpose with 2. e4
I just got to play From's yesterday for the first time in a long time. My opponent declined rather passively with 3. e3?! but still got into the sort of trouble with his g3 square that is typically associated with the main positions from From's accepted. Unfortunately after building up an overwhelming position I lost but still I think the opening moves are instructive.
1. f4 e5 2. e4!? and there we have a King's Gambit! And although Black should be able to equalize in the King's Gambit easier than in the From's Gambit, you'd still do good to prepare for it! Have fun!
Ah, no sweat. I've got Falkbeer's Counter Gambit up my sleeve if my opponent should decide to move it to the King's Gambit. It's my standard weapon against the old thing and I'd much rather play that than the Bird or the From.
In reality, Bird players aren't King's Gambit knights. I've had maybe fifteen From's Gambits on my board, and not a single time 2. e4 was played.
Any setup where you place a pawn on d6 (KID setup, sicilian setups etc.) will make the stonewall look rather silly as the opening is created to establish a grip on the e5 square which is in this case already covered.
Conzipe's point is extremely important: the Stonewall Attack does not work as a 'system' that can be played no matter what Black does. It counts on Black playing an early d5, and if that doesn't happen you'd better have a Plan B.
This is true and relevant. Also, 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4 O-O is perfectly playable for Black. White still has the weakened king position and I feel Black has decent compensation for the pawn. On the contrary, 5...Ng4 6.Qd3 seems like it just doesn't give Black very much for the pawn. In my brief time playing 1...e5 against f4, I played the variations with g5, and despite my 100% win record with that system, I think objectively it is not best.
There is something to what you're suggesting. Previously, I had only had a brief look at f4 e5 2. fxe5 d6 3. exd6 Lxd6 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. d4 Ng4 6. Qd3 0-0. I didn't like the fact that White could easily play e4 or even threaten Ng5. But castling kingside on the fifth move is an idea I'll have a look at. Having my king in the centre is one of the main annoyances of the main line of the Mestel variation.
As for 4. ...g5, I think it can work well against someone not so well versed in the opening, as it includes a ton of nasty traps for White. Unfortunately, the Bird-players in my club know their way around this variation quite well.
There is another incredible idea: 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.c3!!?? ( Stefan Buecker ); there is not mate with 5..g4 and ..Qh4+ !!.
I've played two times as White ( and one as Black ), and the games seems Fire on Board !!
If you want you can play the from with black, but it doesent pay off that much, i know a guy i had to play, who plays From against the Bird, against me he actually didnt want to play it because he knew i know it good enough and played 1 .. d5, and he is about 400-500 points elo stronger then me at the moment,
In realty the full Mestel is your best shot but your opp can play
interesting. How about this line
all games were depicted in the book "Explosive Chess Opening Repertoire for Black" by Tella and Yjrola
That is playable, but white can play, 2Nf3, 3. d3, 4 e4 against this
again, games and positions courtesy of the book "Explosive Chess Opening Repertoire for Black" by Tella and Yjrola
Well, that was irrelevant. Phoenix214 said white could play 2. Nf3, 3. d3, and 4. e4 against 1. f4 d6 2. e4 d5!?. Obviously, if black plays differently (2. ... Bg4), then white won't still play 3. d3.
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