Classical Dutch Strategy 4 - Thematic Manoeuvres

Classical Dutch Strategy 4 - Thematic Manoeuvres


Hello again!

First of all, here are the links to the first 3 in this series. I would recommend reading them too, but you can still access the content in this post without having read the previous issues:

Something I have noticed about novice and lower rated chess players is that they play the opening okay. They can remember the first 8 moves from a book, and reach a playable position, with well developed pieces, a castled king, control of the centre et cetera et cetera. The trouble is that once they are out of this phase of the game, they begin to drift, just making some normal looking moves, and their lack of direction allows their opponent to gradually improve their position, and when 20 moves later, the killer blow comes, they ask themselves where did this tactic come from? The answer is of course in faulty strategy.

Manoeuvres is actually one element of strategy that ties in with openings (in this case the classical Dutch defence) quite nicely. Each openings have their own pawn structures (and piece development squares) that crop up time and time again, and the peculiarities of each one means that certain manoeuvres work well in that opening, while others do not.

For example in some king's pawn openings, like the Italian game (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bf4), the knight manoeuvre Nb1-d2-f1-g3 is seen very often. The benefits of this are clear:

  • The e4 pawn is now defended once more, so I can later play d3-d4 without losing my e-pawn.
  • This knight might be able to later go to f5, a fantastic square, from where it can participate in an attack.
In most queen pawn openings this manoeuvre is pretty well unheard of, because this manoeuvre loses its purpose and is harder to carry out. Firstly, white has to move the light squared bishop, castle then go Re1 before this lengthy manoeuvre can be carried out, and in the meanwhile, black will open up the position and punish white for wasting time. Also, e4 doesn't need defending to be able to go d3-d4 because you have played d4 on move 1! Instead the queenside knight normally goes to c3, from where it exerts maximum pressure on the centre.
Now let's get onto the subject of this issue, which is manoeuvres that are relevant to the Dutch defence...
1) The Queen Sortie (Qe8-h5)
One of the main philosophies of the Dutch defence is to go for a kingside attack, so naturally it is right to include the queen - the most powerful piece - in this. Let's see a classic example of this:
From h5, the queen can facilitate the trade of light squared bishops with Bc8-h3, after which white is left with many weak light squares around the king. Another idea is to go Ng4 and aim for checkmate on h2. In the first game I looked at in issue 3, the fact that my queen manoeuvred to h5 was essential to black's strategy. Here is the manoeuvre in action (the effects of this deadly manoeuvre, you can see in issue 3 diagram 1):
2) The knight manoeuvre (Nc6-d8-f7)
Sometimes white tries to gain space with the advance d4-d5. This attacks black's knight on c6, and asks where it will go. One route for it is Nc6-d8-f7. By doing this, black has another piece on the kingside ready to join the attack. Don't forget that knights are short range pieces, so they have to be nearby to be useful...
Here is another example of this manoeuvre:
3) The Rook Lift (Rf8-f6-h6)
In the opening, rooks belong on the back rank, because there are too many obstacles for them to operate effectively. In the endgame, they shine, because there are very few files that aren't open, and they can zoom around the board and pick off weak pawns. But in the middlegame? With the rook lift you can manoeuvre your rook in front of the pawn chain, to increase the pressure against the opponent's kingside. Here is a spectacular example of this:
Here is another example from grandmaster practice:
4) The Bishop Trade (Bc8-h3)
One of white's best defenders is the fianchettoed bishop on g2. Without this piece, white has many light square weaknesses, so it makes logical sense to try to remove it from the board. After black has closed the centre down with e5 and f4 (the subject of the first issue) then the light squared diagonal c8 to h3 has been opened up and allows Bc8-h3 and a trade of bishops on g2. Note that without the queen on h5 (see section 1 above for more details), this manoeuvre wouldn't be possible...
Last year in the Nottingham congress I played the Dutch against Nigel Morris, who as it happens is a regular at these chess weekenders. I kid you not, he must have turned up to every single event he is eligible for on the ECF calendar! 

Well that is all for this issue of Classical Dutch Strategy, there are doubtless more manoeuvres that are thematic to this opening, but I have covered the most common ones. I should note that it is no coincidence that each of the pieces: Queen, rook, bishop and knight have their own manoeuvres that I have included here - A successful kingside attack in the Dutch is all about utilising all the pieces to harmoniously work together. By looking at the individual workings of each piece, you can go from there to consider the pieces working together.
Stay tuned for the next article in this series, bye!
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