Do You Know Your Opening's Main Ideas?: The Classical Dutch Defense

NM CraiggoryC

I've had many a student suggest that they want to change their opening repetoire. They usually state some reason such as: "it's just not my style". When I was a new teacher I'd go along with their request and teach them about this new opening they wanted to play.

After awhile of doing this, I realized my students were switching openings at an alarming rate! I began to actually delve into why they thought their opening was not to their liking. Usually I found they had lost a bad game or 2 or at most 3. Not only that, they lost to things that would be easily corrected if they knew the main ideas of their openings.

Ideally, before you give up on an opening, you should play 20 serious (at least 15 minutes games; blitz/bullet do not count!) in the opening. Also before you play these 20 games you should know the main ideas of your openings. The reason you should know the main ideas and play 20 games is that unfortunately you will stink at new openings (no matter what it is) until you give yourself a fighting chance; which is what the 20 games does. Let's say you do actually play 20 serious games and you find that a certain opening is just not to your liking. Then you switch to a new one, you can use the ideas, strategems, tactics, experience you gained from the 20 games to do well in your new opening! You may even realize that you want to switch back!

We will go over some of the main ideas of the Classical Dutch Defense. Do you know your opening's main ideas to this depth?!

Classical Dutch Main Line

Black has some ideas of playing Qe8 and if c7 is attacked (by for example an eventual Nb5) then Bd8! That's the B@e7's main purpose in this line. This is for after White plays very precisely though. That's why it's the main line. I know for a fact that club level players usually do not face the main line. This is when knowing the main ideas is mandatory. Let's see what some are:
If You Can Pin a Knight, Do It!
Your Bishop does not have to be passive on e7
If You Can Fianchetto Your Light Squared Bishop, Do It!
It doesn't have to sit passively on c8, blocked in by 3 pawns (d7,e6, f5)!
Part of knowing your opening is knowing what you want to play if your opponent is not accurate. This is a trap many players fall into when they study openings. They only study the main lines, which are important to study, but in the main lines your opponent is usually stopping you from playing moves you'd rather play. So keep on studying the main lines, but instead of just memorizing the moves, really concentrate on why the moves are being played, and what they are moves they are stopping.
Model Game

I love the following game and it shows off many ideas in the Classical Dutch Main Line. Try to find such games in the openings you play. It will do wonders for your handling of that opening!