Greeting to all chess fans!  Today I'm going to show (try to at least) how to build a STONEWALL.  Everyone, at one time or another, has used a STONEWALL.  Even the best of World Champions like Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakaruma, and Bobby Fischer…the list goes on.  My point is that everyone plays a STONEWALL and now, it’s your time, time to stand up and play, play the STONEWALL.


Stonewall is two words, >stone< taken from Webster's definition 1a: Concentrated mineral of earthly matter: Rock.  And >wall< meaning A continuous structure as of masonry, cement, or stonework forming a rampart and usually built as a defense. 

Now my definition: A vertical defense built out of rock of other hard material built to protect or separate.  But who cares what I think?  Exactly my point. lol.


In the Deathmatch which I'm sure you all know, took place on the 21st of December in the year 2015.  A master faceoff between two of the best chess players in the world, Hikaru Nakaruma and Maxime Vachier Lagrave.  There were several particular games which stole my interest when both Nakamura and Lagrave built STONEWALLs.  We will look at these, but let us turn to closer-to-hand matters.


The oldest account I could find is found taking place approximately in the year 445 b.c.  In the film "Facing the Giants" coach Grant Taylor talks to his team about a prophet Nehemiah, which told the citizens of Jerusalem "Ye see the distress we are in...come let us build up the wall of Jerusalem that we no longer suffer derision(lack of respect)"  There is no possible way that Jerusalem's wall could have been built in the time allotted.  So each resident took a brick to the wall, and they got it done on time.  In the same way, chess pieces fit together, and work together, to build a STONEWALL.  It seems appropriate to include the saying "In Union there is Strength" it fits rather well. 


Next we come to the use of a STONEWALL.  In my research I found that a wall's key use is to protect the people of objects on the inside (typically it would be your King).  As well as cause an obstacle for the attacker to be forced to deal with at great casualties.  A wall makes separation of attacker and defender.  If the attacker finds a weak spot in your wall, it will crumble and leave you defenseless.  Ask yourself, 'How many links of a chain will it take to break the whole chain?'  You answer, why just one of course.  Yes, just one, just as it takes only one weak part of a wall to lose. 


In this game, taken from the Deathmatch on the 21st GM Maxime Vachier Lagrave builds a STONEWALL and GM Hikaru Nakaruma could not find a weak spot.  Lagrave’s STONEWALL just moved further and further pushing, and pushing, until he won the game. 

I don't want anyone to think I'm saying Nakamura is a bad player, I'm NOT I'm just pointing out his only equal opponent found a weak spot and knocked his STONEWALL to the ground while he pushed his to Nakamura's doorstep.

Here's a game with Nakaruma's STONEWALL that sure stood!

Maxime Vachier Lagrave, rushed for time, didn't have time to break Nakaruma's STONEWALL and the result was fatal.

Here is another game, played by amateurs though, so it's hard to watch because of inexperienced playing, but anyway, here it is.

Now on to the question.  The only ways I've found to break a STONEWALL are-

1.  Catch it early.  If unnoticed a STONEWAll will develop  until you see to your horror, it's too late and your negligence has cost a game.  (Don't feel bad when this happens, I've lost count of all the times I've been so absorbed with winning that I missed the obvious, and lost the game.)

2.  Take your time and think it out.  I'm sure the only reason Nakaruma and Lagrave lost to STONEWALLs were because of insufficient time to think.

3.  Out think your opponent.  Continuing on with my example of the wall of Jerusalem.  Only 1 chapter later the enemy is already plotting and this is their very words.  "Even that as strong as they build, if a clever fox go up, he shall even break down their mighty stonewall."  Now on to my third way to win against a STONEWALL.  The only way the enemy could think of to destroy the STONEWALL was cleverness.  I fully believe that no matter how intelligently made or advanced, and STONEWALL can still be broken.  You might be shocked by this, but if played back in the Legendary John Morphy's time when one could think for indefinite amounts of time before their next move, a STONEWALL would just be a waste of time.  But, in Blitz and Bullet games like in my examples were played in the time for playing fox is plainly just not there, and so, building a STONEWALL in a Blitz or Bullet game is extremely affective.


Knights and Pawns work miracles when used in the construction of STONEWALLs, hang on to them until the attempted wall breach begins.  At this point your opponent is most vulnerable and can be taken advantage of quite easily.  When this time comes, STRIKE with all you have!

Don't build STONEWALLs in every game.  Becoming proficient in the creation of STONEWALLs is important, but don't ever abuse the skill.  In a future match, your opponent will study your last games and if you played STONEWALL in every game, you will be lucky to escape with a draw.  Trust me there.

A leaving note:

Christmas is upon us,

We do our feasting dance;

Than waddle to the livingroom,

And dream of bigger pants!


Over the Christmas Holiday, have fun and play some good chess!