Classical Dutch Strategy 1 - e5, f4 Closed Centre

Classical Dutch Strategy 1 - e5, f4 Closed Centre



It is well known that the classical Dutch defence is one of the most volatile openings going, when black congregates all of his pieces on the kingside and at the appropriate moment blasts through, like storming the bastille. Sometimes it works and sometimes you wake up at the board and ask yourself 'where did all of my soldiers go?', after all you need to save some pieces to checkmate your opponent.

Bassem Amin (2707 FIDE) has played this opening on numerous occasions and scored rather well with it, with 19 wins, 7 draws and 9 losses from mainline classical Dutch games (see diagram below). In this installment, I have analysed a game of his, which contains a typical Dutch attack.

Mainline Classical Dutch

[Black to move]

This is the starting point of the mainline classical Dutch which we are going to look at. Black has a few different ways to play this position, including ...Ne4, ...Qe8 and ...a5. In the game here black opts for ...Qe8 combined with ...Ne4.

Pawn Structure
In the game by Bassem Amin, this pawn structure was reached. This is the ideal pawn structure for a Dutch defender. The f4 pawn is used as a crowbar to dismantle the fianchetto structure, and the light squared diagonal is open for the bishop to go to h3 or g4. The extra space on the kingside gives black easier manoeuvring, and that the centre is closed allows black to advance the kingside pawns without fear of his king becoming exposed.

Critical Moments of the Game 

Here are the critical moments of the game, you might want to have a go at finding the best move in each case:




The Game

Summary of Key Points

  1. Play e5 (and f4) to close down the centre. This gives you the opportunity to carry out a kingside attack, without your opponent being able to occupy open central files with rooks and force exchanges, and attack your exposed king.
  2. Remove white's kingside pawns. By swapping off the pawns in front of the white king, you expose the king to attack, and your pieces gain control of more squares. This is why we like f5-f4 advance, to give the option of later playing fxg3.
  3. Manoeuvre pieces over to kingside. To orchestrate any kind of attack you need as many pieces in the vicinity as possible, so that you can sacrifice some of them and still have enough left over to checkmate. Don't forget that knights are short-ranged pieces, so must be local to be helpful, whereas bishops and rooks can be on the back rank and join the action in a single move. Therefore knights should generally be brought closer first.
  4. Swap off some of the king's defenders. The light squared bishop on g2 is often white's best defender (of the light squares). By removing this piece, you can create checkmate threats either with Queen and knight on g2, or with f4-f3 threats of Qg2#, or possibly even a bishop and queen mate with Qxh2#. Perhaps a rook lift (Rf3-h3) would allow a rook and queen mate on g2 or h2.
  5. Combination time! Once you have enough pieces in the attack, and your opponent few enough defenders, then the time is right to break through the bastille and deliver checkmate - This may come at the cost of heavy material losses, but if you win by checkmate, then who cares what the material count is?

Stay tuned for the next article in this series, bye!

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