"Behind the Stonewall you should never lose"

by ChessBase
5/4/2021 – It's also thanks to Magnus Carlsen that the Stonewall currently enjoys a good reputation and is considered healthy and ambitious. Usually, the Stonewall structure arises via the Dutch Defense, after 1.d4 f5. But in ChessBase Magazine #201, the new issue of the CBM, the renowned theoretician and Dutch expert Viktor Moskalenko shows that Black also does well against line-ups without d2-d4 (English or Reti). He explains the ideas of these systems with some of his own games and concludes: "Behind the Stonewall you should never lose".

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No gap in the Stonewall

Viktor Moskalenko defuses (White) set-ups without d2-d4

After 1.c4 f5 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.0-0 c6


we reach the starting position of our survey. Black has made the classical Dutch Stonewall moves, while White hasn't committed himself yet as to his d- and b-pawn. Here I would like to share my experience against the plans with 6.d3 (English style) or 6.b3 (Réti style), i.e. without d2-d4. These may sometimes transpose. Since White's play is initially more obvious, I had to look for new ideas for Black. So in practice I have achieved very good results from this position (see database!), mainly due to a good understanding of the plans for both sides. Therefore, I would recommend you to trace the evolution of the development of different options.

1) English style setup: 6.d3

Now Black can try two options: A) the old and solid 6...Be7, or B) the modern 6...dxc4!?.

A) 6...Be7


This used to be my favourite weapon for many years. I found that the position of the black bishop on e7 helps to defend against White's immediate attack with Nc3/e2-e4,


see Ivanov,J - Moskalenko,V 0-1.

If the first player proceeds in a slower mode, Black can start a tricky manoeuvre with the original ...Ng4!?,


freeing the square f6 for the bishop (Bode,U - Moskalenko,V 0-1)


and followed if necessary by the retreat to h6 (Makarov,M - Moskalenko,V ½-½).

B) 6...dxc4!?

A curious idea that deserves attention. Black exchanges the queens immediately, thereby reducing White’s initiative. 7.dxc4 Qxd1 9.Rxd1.


There are not many games featuring the diagram position yet (except mine) and no theory, but some practical concepts regarding the pawn structure. The bottom line for Black in this endgame is to get his pawns rolling, i.e. to prepare ...e6-e5! In practice, I have faced White's continuations 9.b3 (Matamoros Franco,C - Moskalenko,V 0-1) 9.Nc3 (Lalic,B - Moskalenko,V ½-½, the notes also deal with 9.Bf4!?) and 9.Nd4


(Valdes,L - Moskalenko,V 0-1, after 13...e5!?). In all of these games Black finally managed to implement the liberating advance, giving him at least equal chances. Summarising, the secret of the line 6...dxc4 is that the exchange of queens doesn’t offer White any serious advantage!

2) Réti style setup: 6.b3 Bd6!


White prepares a typical Réti double fianchetto without playing the d2-d4 push. At the same time he protects the c4-pawn, thereby rendering the ...d5xc4 threat harmless. On the other hand, this slower concept allows Black to develop his bishop on to the optimal square d6, to be followed by the Stonewall standard ...Qe7 gaining control over the dark squares and preparing e6-e5..

The sample games after 7.Bb2 feature 7...0-0!? (De Boer,G - Moskalenko,V 0-1) and 7...Qe7 8.d3 (Franco Ocampos,Z - Moskalenko,V ½-½) respectively 8.Qc2


(Gorbatov,A - Moskalenko,V 0-1, position after 12...Nh6). Black was fine everywhere!

Conclusion on the Dutch Stonewall against English and Réti setups: I have played these positions quite often, and with good results. It is advisable to be very patient during the opening and enjoy tactics only in the later phases of the game. I hope that this study will help the Black adherents to improve their play (and results) in such positions to a considerable extent. After all, behind the Stonewall you should never lose!

You will find the complete article with all games and analyses in the new issue.

11 opening articles are waiting for you in ChessBase Magazine #201:

Viktor Moskalenko: Stonewall without d2-d4
Romain Edouard: Old Benoni 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.d5 b5 4.e4!?
Alexey Kuzmin: Sicilian Rossolimo Variation with 3...e5
Robert Ris: Sicilian Four Knights with 9...Rb8
Yago Santiago: French 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Sd2 Sc6
Christian Braun: Scotch Belgrade Gambit 5.Nd5
Lars Schandorff: Italian with 8...a5
Petra Papp: Ruy Lopez Zaitsev-Variation with 12.a3/14.b4
Krisztian Szabo: Semi-Slav with 7.Bd3 and 8.Nge2
Sergey Grigoriants: Tarrasch Defence 5...cxd4
Evgeny Postny: Nimzo-Indian 4.f3 d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5

ChessBase Magazine #201

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