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  1. Forum
  2. Game analysis
  3. Anti-Stonewall (via triangle move order)

Not few play play the Stonewall with a delayed ...f5 say via a triangle setup. My usual g3 might be theoretically ok but my performance is really poor. Time for some adjustments. So I switched to 4.Qc2 followed by Bf4, e3, Nc3, Bd3 and and a later g4 (Rg1).

Just a rough idea, nothing highly sophisticated so far. What do you think about this setup?

@Sarg0n It's interesting.

Thank you so much for sharing it.

Against the 4.Qc2 semi-slav, switching to the Stonewall is probably a bad move order. Black lacks the usual flexibility that makes the Stonewall viable if unpopular, as it is a tight-rope exercise right from the opening. Your setup is 100% credible against this move-order. Black is likely to be cooperative, refusing to castle and to play g5 himself until you castle (which won't happen). Black might even play Nbd7 at a wrong time, allowing cxd5. White's king is safe in the closed center if Black doesn't push g5 (and maybe b5 or c5 at some later stage).

With Black, 6...Be7 is already imprecise (not to mention the later mistakes). The bishop will be needed on g7 if Black pushes g5 and White's king stays in the center. My target line would be 6...Ne4 7.Bd3 Nd7 (to control e5 before pushing, otherwise Be5 causes some problems) 8.Nc3 g5 and then Stockfish recommends 9.Bxe4 gxf4 10.Bd3 to which Black can answer 10...fxe3 (not Stockfish's 10...dxc4) 11.cxd5 cxd5 . This looks dynamically balanced. Black intends to play a6 (to prevent Nb5-d6 before removing the dark bishop from that diagonal), Bg7/h6, 0-0, Nf6, an easy development. White has some structural plus (pressure on the e6 backward pawn) and minus (the isolated d4 pawn targeted by the bishop on g7).

Still, you get everything White can reasonably hope for out of the opening.

Yeah, thx. Stonewall is a hard nut to crack, as a lifetime e4 player I underestimated it completely at first.

Think I will elaborate on this line, this should hopefully catch out the autopilot guys. ;)

Btw, my other pet line is 1.Nf3 f5 2.d3!? which is tricky, some strong players like Carlsen play it occasionally.

Many Stonewall players are indeed on autopilot, which is terrible in this particular opening. That contributes to the bad reputation of the Dutch as a whole, even though some top players declare it balanced periodically (e.g. Kramnik in Dvoretsky's book on positional play). This nice paradox stems from the fact that it is easier to reach a playable position in the main line (richer in the long run) than in the offbeat lines (more dangerous in the short run for both players).

I believe that 1.Nf3 f5 2.d3 is also credible. Black needs to switch plan and play something like 2...d6 and 3...e5 (not necessarily so early), but usually they stick to Dutch guns and run into trouble. I think I've seen 2...d6 and 3...e5 in Palliser's "Dangerous Weapons : the Dutch" but it was a cursory glance, I can't be sure.

This setup seems good to me. However 9.g4 is more used than 9.Rg1. Here you go two games:

#5, 1.Nf3 f5 2.d3(!) Nc6(!) is even better in my opinion, Black might play d7-d5 later in one go (instead d7-d6-d5)

My latest try in a tournament: 3. d4 :D

(at the end both players promote, but white has Qd8+, Qc8+)


The Stonewall has seven lives. I love Dutch and I play it often, especially the Leningrad system. But since I often play 1 c4 in white I also play against the Stonewall. Sometimes I seem to play against myself!
Your setup (the first game) seems good, but I would opt for 8 Nfd2.
The idea of playing f2-f3 (Larsen) sooner or later is the most annoying thing for Dutch players. And I know something about it :

I never liked playing against the Leningrad or Classical Dutch, so I switched to 1.Nf3 intending 1.Nf3 f5 2.d3 and have had good results with it over the years.

Your Qc2 system doesn't seem bad, especially since it could transpose to a Stonewall from a Classical setup (or some other triangle setup). I've always thought that Qc2 + Bf4 was good after seeing this game many years ago: