A Trial Against the F-Pawn
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A Trial Against the F-Pawn

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No, no, I don't mean my good friend and mentor: @fpawn . I mean the Dutch defense. Is the Dutch defense guilty of being a weak, overrated opening?

"Just how bad is the Dutch defense?" A player asked when he saw the paucity of elite level games in the opening. With Seigbert Tarrasch proclaiming that he'd never play this opening again (according to the primary authority on chess history, Edward Winter, he broke his vow and subsequently continued his use of the Dutch defense in tournament play.) and Ulf Andersson talking about how the early f-pawn push creates irreparable weaknesses, especially in the endgame, one might wonder, "who'd want to play 1.d4 1...f5?"

The solution for black? Repair your repertoire with Forward Chess ! With it's interactive platform to study books, modern books from high-quality publishers, and an overall upgrade in enjoyment and captivation from reading chess books.

In defense of the Dutch, we have French GM Adrien Demuth's excellent book: The Modernized Dutch.

Many players know the Dutch (Leningrad, Classical, and Stonewall) is for players who want thematic play, typical plans, idea-based chess, counterattacking possibilities and soundness. In addition the opening is flexible, teaches you many pawn structures, and doesn't require tons and tons of theory to learn in order to successfully employ it for the average tournament player.

 No wonder many French defense players play the Dutch (GM Moskalenko comes to mind, for instance) and also begin the game with 1...e6 regardless of white's first move. 

The book is divided into 3 categories: Early Sidelines 1.d4 f5, Classical Systems, and Reti and English Move Orders

Below I'll share with you one the most valuable treasures I discovered in the book and the general ideas I extracted from Demuth's explanations in order to give you a fair idea of just how well this book is organized. The plans in the position are made clear for the reader.


  • Demuth's rare 2...d5! is an excellent way of declining white's gambit and striking in the center.
  • Black often tries to entice white to push ahead with moves such as e3 or f4 in order to shut down the c1 bishop.
  • White's unsound flank attack leaves his own king highly vulnerable and his army severely  underdeveloped. This makes white prone to destruction when black frees his pieces with the e5 break, even at the cost of a pawn.
  • Another ubiquitous theme illustrated in the above variations is the advance h6 by black. This allows black to exchange off white's g5 pawn (restricting our development by stopping Nf6) and open the h-file for attack.
  • If white creates a "prison" structure in the center, black will frequently gain space on the queenside with c5-c4 and later b5-b4! (Experienced American Grandmaster and respected author Andrew Soltis extensively covers this type of structure under the chapter "Stonewalls and Other Prisons" in his ground-breaking book on pawn structures: Pawn Structure Chess. I've read the paperback edition and have the book dear to my heart. I've reviewed this book extensively in this blog: Pawn Structures Every Player Must Know .

In serious terms, the first-rate Dutch defense is guilty by slaughtering many innocent opponents. They just get swept from the chess board without further notice, such a brusque interaction isn't acceptable in a chess utopia.

But from an objective chess quality perspective, the Dutch defense is acquitted of the above charges! So good luck and enjoy! Smash your opponents with 1.d4 f5!!