Friday, October 10, 2008

Playing the Stonewall Dutch All Wrong

Since I got back into chess recently, one of the openings that I gave up on is the Dutch Stonewall, an opening that I played for more than twenty years. My results were simply not good enough, so I decided it was time to try fresh openings against 1. d4. Part of my dismal results is due probably to my simply not playing the opening properly! Here is a good example, from one of the 1st Category round robins in which I played during the four years I lived in Moscow.

[Event "1st Category Round Robin#4"]
[Site "Moscow, Russia"]
[Date "1995.05.16"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Tarshilov"]
[Black "Cross, Ted"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A85"]

1. c4 f5
Well, what can I say? It is not good to play the Dutch immediately against 1. c4, but I didn't know that at the time. Back then I thought it was pretty clever to have the same opening against 1. c4, 1. d4, and 1. Nf3. Later on GM Aleksander Wojtkiewicz crushed me badly in this line and told me that I can't play the Dutch until white has played d4. He proceded to play the pawn to d3 and use it to support an early e4 thrust. Not what black is after...
2. d4
Until GM Wojtkiewicz's lesson I always got away with it, as every player invariably played d4 at some point and transposed into the Dutch proper.
2...Nf6 3. Nc3 e6 4. Bg5 h6 5. Bf4 d5
I always played the Stonewall Dutch, though I think it does not suit my style of play.
6. c5 c6 7. e3 Be7 8. Be2 O-O 9. Nf3 Bd7
I know this is not the usual move, but I was overly impressed once by a GM game in which black moved this bishop (usually locked away behind the wall of pawns) to h5 via d7 and e8 and then traded it for a knight. It seemed to me to be a logical way to get rid of this usually bothersome bishop, but I adhered to this idea far too faithfully for too many years.
10. Ne5 Be8 11. g4
Uh oh, I always dreaded when white delayed castling and threw the pawns at my king. I have never been great at defending against this and I usually overreact in my attempt at defense.
11...g5 12. Bg3 Nbd7 13. h4
He's coming at me with everything, so my thinking was that I needed to find a way to exploit the fact that his king was still stuck in the center of the board. It wouldn't matter how ugly his attack looked if I could corral his king.
13...Ne4 14. gxf5?
He makes a move that doesn't look so bad to my amateur eyes, but the computer takes white from a significant advantage down to nothing because of this move. The way I see it, this ruined white's potential attack, because black now gets to shut down all the attacking lines, and in fact appears to get more attacking lines himself out of the deal. Taking on d7 followed by Be5 was far better for white.
15. fxg3 Nxe5 16. dxe5
This was the first difficult choice, to take on f5 or c5? I decided I would do better with my bishop on the other side of the pawn chains, but I think taking on f5 is nearly as good.
16...Bxc5 17. f6
It looks slightly better to play 17. e4, though black still has a slight edge.
This move looks obvious but may be a mistake. Fritz likes Qc7 much better and gives black a large edge.
18. Qd3 d4
I thought I was much better here since I was locking his king in with my bishop.
19. Ne4?
Whoops! This gives black a winning advantage due to the check on a5. White needed to try Bg4.
19...Qa5+ 20. Kd1 Qxe5
This move is simple and good, but Bg6 may be even stronger. Black cannot be careless now. Having a winning game is not the same as actually winning the game! A few careless moves and black can easily blow it - something I have learned many times in the past.
21. hxg5 Bxg5
This move is not bad, but it overlooks the far better Bg6, which wins more easily despite giving white some counterplay.
22. Bh5 Bf7
I should have just taken the pawn on f6 - 22...Bxf6 23. Bxe8 Raxe8 24. Rxh6 Bg7 and black wins.
23. Bxf7+ Rxf7 24. Rh5 Qb5
It is also fine to sack the rook on f6 here, but I was happier just trying to trade down to a winning endgame.
25. Qxb5 cxb5 26. Nxg5 Rxf6!
It pays to be accurate. Taking immediately on g5 makes things harder than necessary. Taking on f6 works due to the threat to win the rook on a1.
27. Ke2 hxg5 28. Rxg5+
Rah1 immediately is a better try to save the game, though black is still winning of course.
28...Kf7 29. Rxb5 b6 30.Rh1 Ke7
I get a bit too conservative, but it all works out as black's passed central pawns are simply too strong.
31. Rg5 Rf7 32. Rh6 Raf8 33. Kd3 Rd8 34. Rh4 Kf6?!
The computer really dislikes this move and gives black only a slight edge now. It much prefers 34...Rf3+ and only then Kf6.
35. Rf4+?
White needed to keep both rooks to have any chances. 35. Rgh5 was the better try.
35...Kxg5 36. Rxf7 e5
It is fine to give up the a pawn in order to get the central pawns rolling.
37. Rxa7 e4+ 38. Kd2 e3+ 39. Kd3 Re8 40. Rg7+ Kf6 41. Rh7 e2 42. Rh6+ Kg5 43. Rh1 e1=Q 44. Rxe1 Rxe1 45. Kxd4 Re2 46. Kc3 Kf5 47. b4 Rxa2 48. Kc4 Rg2 49. Kb5 Rxg3 50. Kxb6 Ke6 51. b5 Kd7 52. Kb7 Rb3 53. b6 Ra3 54. Kb8 Kc6 55. b7 Rb3 56. Ka8
This is why white did not give up earlier - one last clever attempt at a stalemate.
56...Kc7 0-1

No comments: