Pawn Formations Part 6: Dealing with that Darn Dutch Defense
Now that I got your attention with the lead in photo. I search google images for Elias Stein (1748-1812), the Dutch Chess Master who recommended 1…f4 as the best response to 1.d4. This picture came up in the first page of searches oddly enough. No relation whatsoever to Mr. Stein… but it sure was different, no?
Elias Stein was around during the days of Francois Philidor and probably frequented the Café de la Regence in Paris. He wrote that “ If the opponent opens by pushing the queen’s pawn two squares, you cannot do better than to push the king’s bishop pawn two squares.”
Other than 1..d5, it’s an alternative that immediate contests White’s quest to dominate both central squares. I like the line that immediately plays 2.g3 but even the flexible 2.c4 can transpose. After Black plays 2…Nf6 3. C4 brings us to the main line of all the major branches. It’s Black’s third move that determines the course. If he begins the finachetto with 3…g6 it follows a Leningrad Dutch. If 3…e6 is played we are going down the classical Dutch which unfolds into other realms ( like the Stonewall).
The reason I like the 2.g3 line is that with 1..f5, Black concedes his c8-Bishop’s best square to challenge the center. White playing for immediate control of the long diagonal challenges the light squares.
The critical Line so far: 1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 and now 3…g6 for Black enters the Leningrad Dutch. Black plays a type of King’s Indian with the f5 push. The challenge is the weakness on e6. White actually has some flexibility with the fourth move. 4.c4 is theprinciple move but will sometimes hold off and develop the King’s knight and castle first before bringing this pawn forward. 4. Nh3 is a valid line with the intent of going to f4 blocking Black’s f-pawn. The general theme is to build pressure on e4, nothing unusual in this d4- games. However, with the King side finachetto, White can really delay the e2-e4 push and take his time to develop towards the Queen side. Getting the Queen bishop on the other long diagonal is the best way to contest the Black pieces.
With 3…e6, again 4.c4 is the principle line but can delay it until after the Kingside is developed. Though, playing 4.c4 is my choice as I would rather face the Stonewall variation (4…d4) with the option of exchanging cxd5. If Black plays 4…d6 we enter the main line of the Classical Dutch. There are similar themes with building pressure for e4. In the classical line, White can play to gain space on the Queen side. In the Stonewall, with 4…d5 5.cxd5, this sets up similar themes of minority attacks for White. With the pawn on f5 however, White has a little more of a hard time mustering up a king side attack as in the QGD-Exchange variation.
It just so happened that I was barely prepared to play this variation this past week at the club. I lost due to a strategy error. For some reason I was fearless and allowed my opponent to gain a nice outposted knight on c4.
I know, go ahead and beat me up… I already did. I did walk away with my class A player remarking that I played the strongest continuation to his variation of the Dutch that he decided he was not going to play it again at the Club because of it! So there, even when I lose, I inflict some level of intimidation. Go figure. I’ve been working on improving my strategy all week at chess.com using the mentor tools. Good stuff.
Bring on the World:
I am hitting the road this week and heading to the World open. If you are there look for me in the U1800 section. This will be my year to win… right? ( Everyone says that) I just hope to have a strong performance and play some decent chess. I am looking forward to this. If you are there and in my section, be prepared and read my blog… I want a good challenge or I will OWN you!