The Stone Wall
by GM Magesh and GM Arun
This week we will study the Stonewall Defense. An interesting idea from black to use his pawn chain to build a wall-like formation that stops white from encroaching into black's territory. But, just as any idea has its own share of good and bad, the Stonewall Defense comes with its own sack of difficulties.
Today we will take a look at white's approach against this opening and what are some major ideas to seize the initiative. The real weakness of an opening like the Stonewall is the over-extension of the pawns. When you start pushing your pawns out early in the game you are bound to allow some weak squares and in this opening the 'e5' square becomes a target. Also committing your pawns on one color declares a lot of information to your opponent. In this case the light-squared bishop becomes a burden for black as his pawns would just be hindering his movement.
Our first game today is a strong display of positional skills from Grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk. In this game he just follows some basic principles of the opening and you will see how that is good enough to sail home safe.
In our second game Grandmaster Kasimdzanov executes similar ideas and wins a pawn and eventually uses excellent technique to convert his material advantage into a full point.
Trading black's dark-squared bishop becomes a very important factor for both sides in this opening since it gives a lot of weak squares to be dealt with. Understanding such nuances bridges the gap between an amateur and a strong professional chess player.