Wednesday 22 June 2005

Archive: UNCUT! 39

The Sean Marsh Chess Column
*Column 39*
* *June 2005* *

New Adventures in the Dutch!

Dear Readers,

A recent thread in the forum, regarding various aspects of the Dutch Defence, brought some memories back to me of how I became involved in this interesting – yet very demanding – opening. So I thought I’d bore you all with them….

I was first able to watch top-quality players in the early 1980s. I’d started to play in the local league for Guisborough and would go along to the Middlesbrough and Redcar chess clubs just to watch games and matches in progress.
It was interesting to see what openings the top players were adopting. Most were the usual suspects, with the Sicilian, Spanish and King’s Indian all clearly in evidence. Younger players were keen to adopt the Centre Counter with 2…Nf6, long before the current trend, under the guidance of junior coach Stuart Morgan. U-11 British Champion Jason Glass had modelled the unusual opening into an extremely potent weapon. However, lesser-known openings were few and far between.

At around the same time, I bought a copy of Botvinnik’s ‘100 Selected Games’, which is an excellent selection of well-annotated games from the early part of the great champions’ career. Several of the games that attracted my attention on the first read-through featured the Stonewall Variation of the Dutch Defence, culminating in typical Kingside attacks.

Flohr – Botvinnik, 1933

The 10th game of a very famous 12 game match; Botvinnik completed his recovery from –2 and went on to tie the match, drawing the last two games.

Yudovich – Botvinnik, Leningrad Championship 1934
With this final round victory, Botvinnik secured a decisive half-point lead over his rivals.

Steiner – Botvinnik Groningen 1946

Botvinnik won this famous tournament by half a point and put himself well and truly on the path to the World Championship.

The age of the games, in conjunction with the fact that I didn’t see any local top players using the Dutch, convinced me that such ideas were outmoded. My opinion changed when I set about watching some games in the Open section of the Middlesbrough Congress in between my own games There, before my very eyes, was a classic example of a Stonewall Dutch, with Kingside pawns charging down the board in the Botvinnik style! Black won; the game impressed me and I felt I had to take a much closer look at the Dutch Defence.

RJ Harding v Norman Stephenson
Middlesbrough Open 1984

Every other week I used to pop along to Redcar Library, which was noted for its amazing number of chess books. This was due to the fact that Ray Hyde, a member of Redcar chess club, worked at the library and was therefore able to fill up the shelves to his heart’s content. Before Ray left the area there were three shelves full of high-quality chess books. I used to take out four of them every fortnight and plumb their depths for chess wisdom. Shortly after the Middlesbrough Congress I went along to find a book on the Stonewall Dutch. The closest I could find was a book on ‘The Leningrad Dutch’ by Tim Harding, so I took up that defence instead.

I tired to learn enough variations to enable me to unleash it as soon as possible. My chance came in a county match. This was at a time when to play 1…f5 was considered an extremely risky venture and I remember getting some funny looks from players either side of me. Nevertheless, the game was drawn after a sharp struggle and as my opponent was graded in the mid-180s – and I was still in the 150s - I saw this a very successful Dutch debut.

D. Firth v SM
Cleveland v Yorkshire 1984

Black is fine here. White forced the draw with 22 Bxg6 hxg6 23 Qxg6+ Kh8 ½-½

I kept playing the Leningrad Dutch against all the closed openings (1 Nf3, 1 c4 and 1 d4). Opponents usually confessed afterwards that they hated playing against it.

Eventually I was able to broaden the repertoire a bit when I got hold of a book on ‘The Classical Dutch’ (including the Stonewall) by Bellin. The various forms of the Dutch served me well but there were the inevitable setbacks.

As I got to know more the local players I discovered that the Dutch was slightly more popular than I initially thought. Richard Hall, David Wise and Ernie Lazenby were all extremely successful with its various forms.

Shortly after that period, I dropped out of local chess for 10 years. When I returned I had to cobble together an opening repertoire after years of disuse. The Stonewall Dutch was one of the old weapons I successfully dusted off and, playing it against all-comers, had great success.

The Foxy Openings video on the subject (now on DVD, of course) by GM Nigel Davies was particularly useful and in my opinion is one of the very best of the whole range.

I suppose the pinnacle of its successful outings was a game against the man who had (inadvertently) inspired me to play it.

Norman Stephenson v SM
County Championship 1999

Times change, people change; several years have now passed since I played my last Dutch A painful defeat to David Wise in the final round of the county championship, which meant that once again the title had eluded me, put me off it for a while and I went in search of other weapons against 1 d4. I also lost my inspirational video on the opening ('lost' as in 'foolishly lent out', never to be seen again) so preparation was more difficult.

Anyone thinking of taking up the Stonewall might care to take on board two observations. Firstly, things have moved on just a little since Botvinnik’s time. Back then, it was considered vitally important that the Black Queen slipped to e8 and then out to h5 to take part in the big attack against the White King. Now there is a more subtle approach, with Black playing Bd6 instead of Be7 and following up with Qe7 (to prevent - or at least delay – the exchange of dark-squared Bishops by an b2-b3 and Ba3).

Secondly, Black players must investigate the critical line leading to this position….

….which is currently giving Black some difficult problems to solve, and is the one which David Wise played against me in the aforementioned game.

Since then, there has been a rash of new books on the various forms of the Dutch and it seems only a matter of time before I am tempted to try it again.

Adventures with the Dutch come in two colours. As White I had a fair bit of success with the highly unusual 1 d4 f5 2 Qd3!?, which isn’t as ridiculous as it looks.

The basic idea is to meet 2 …e6 or 2 …g6 with 3 e4 fxe4 4 Qxe4 Nf6 5 Qh4! when White can build up a fast attack with Bh6/g5, Bd3 etc. Traditionalists would be appalled by such an early Queen move, but there is no denying it has its merits. Black’s best reply is undoubtedly 2 …d5, persuading White not to play 3 e4, but then the first player can switch to another gambit with 3 g4, and Black now has a reduced number of ways to meet this idea. For example, plans with …d6 and …e5 are ruled out. I also tinkered with the move order on occasion, varying with 2 g4 and even 2 h3 with 3 g4 to follow, all in conjunction with a slightly delayed Qd3.

SM - I. Robertson
Irvine Open 1994

When it all goes well, White can develop a very strong attack just out of the opening. It should come as no surprise that White played 11 Rxh5! in this position (1-0, 23)

SM - G. Murphy
Durham Quickplay Championship 1999

It is clear that after just 13 moves White has a wonderful position (1-0, 21).

The idea is also playable as Black against certain variations of the Bird Opening, eg. 1 f4 d5 2 b3?! Qd6!? and 3 …e5, when b3 might end up being superfluous at best. Anyway, it’s certainly food for thought and my winning percentage with 2 Qd3 is very high. Why not give it a try, especially at Quickplay?

Have fun with your new adventures in the Dutch!

Sean Marsh
June 2005

Sunday 5 June 2005

Chess Book Reviews: 1

Take Me To Your Reader!

Welcome to the new series of book reviews. We have several fine volumes to talk about so without further ado let’s open the pages and get stuck in to a bit of reading…

Pitching chess books for young juniors is no easy task. The style of the book has to be easy on the eye and easy to navigate; the contents have to be instructive without being too difficult. Three titles I can heartily recommend are the following…

Chess For Children
by GM Murray Chandler and Dr. Helen Milligan
illustrated by Cindy McCluskey


Chess for Children starts with the very basics, with Kirsty the alligator teaching his friend George how to play. George threatens to flush his friend down the toilet unless he teaches him properly so Kirsty sticks to the task (despite some outrageous name-dropping along the way) and by way of lucid explanations and several Terribly Tough Tests, George gradually learns the game of chess. Kirsty is a good teacher and helps George understand not only the basic moves, but also the toughies such as castling, en-passant and basic tactics. By page 101 George knows enough to play Kirsty in the Big Match.

This is an attractive book and the authors do an excellent job of bringing the first steps to life. The illustrations keep things lively, although one can’t help but feel sorry for the young moose on page 9.

Improving juniors will need to start building up their recognition of standard patterns. Murray Chandler uses that as his starting point for…

How To Beat Your Dad At Chess
by GM Murray Chandler

This book concentrates on 50 Deadly Checkmates, using a very clear style. All of the old favourites are there, from Anastasia’s Mate to Philidor’s Legacy and Murray also takes the opportunity to introduce some new names to standard ideas. Thus we get Taimanov’s Knight Check, The Petrosian Draw and Korchnoi’s Manoeuvre. The book concludes with a page of examples of what to do if your Dad is Garry Kasparov!

Karpov v TaimanovLeningrad 1977

This is the position from which the name The Taimanov Check is taken. Can you see how Black can win quickly?

The World Champion of the time resigned after 1 …Ng3+! as after 2 hxg3 Ra8! the Rook’s journey to h8 will be decisive.

For an example of Korchnoi’s Manoeuvre see my UNCUT! 22 column in the site archive and to see what The Petrosian Draw is all about you’ll just have to buy this book!

Chess Tactics For Kids
by GM Murray Chandler

…is identical in style and layout. It takes the reader through 50 Tricky Tactics, starting with Forks and running a glittering array of potent chess weapons from checkmating Queen sacrifices to Stalemate traps.

Gambit’s production values are extremely high. These three junior books are all very attractive hardbacks, which should last for years – even in the hands of juniors. In fact, I believe a lot of club players would benefit from reading through the examples of the latter two books.

Pattern recognition is a very important method of chess development. What should White do in this hopeless looking position?

Garry Kasparov’s Greatest Chess Games Vol. 1
by GM Igor Stohl

Igor Stohl has taken on a very tough task in trying to distill the best games of the world’s best player into two books. It’s very brave and, given the recent retirement announcement, very well timed. It is strange to think that there has not been a proper collection of Kasparov’s games for such a long time. In fact, the benchmark is still one of the later editions of ‘Fighting Chess’. Part of the problem is knowing where to start. Kasparov has played literally hundreds of superb games and narrowing them down is never going to be easy.

The short introduction provides some biographical information and puts the games into historical context, but this is hardly comprehensive and it is clear from the outset that this book is here to concentrate almost purely on the games themselves and not to try and write a complete life story.

Stohl typically gives four pages to each game and his analysis is of a high standard. Rather than just dumping variations on the poor reader, there is plenty of verbal explanation too. In fact, those annoying long variations that tend to overrun chess books are very much in the minority

Stohl’s first volume starts off with a game from an U-18 championship in 1973 and ends 20 years later with Kasparov’s famous title defence against Nigel Short. All the favourites are there as we see Kasparov battle with such chess heroes as Korchnoy, Petrosian, Polugaevsky, Portisch and many others. There’s also the odd game from Kasparov’s clock simuls. Not all of the games are wins for Kasparov; for example, the last game in the book is a remarkable save at the end of a fascinating battle with Short.

14 of the featured games are against his permanent rival, Anatoly Karpov. In these days of World Championship chaos, it is nostalgic to think we used to be spoiled by having a proper title match on a very regular basis. In fact, I’d say reading this book is a very nostalgic experience. Some of the great players featured are no longer with us and neither are such events as Interzonals and Candidates Matches. To think that Kasparov is now himself part of history is still a disturbing thought. The best we can do is to enjoy his fine legacy of great games. This book is great place to start. With an RRP of £22.50 for a 320 page hardback, I’d say this was excellent value for money and a recommended addition to your library.

Here’s a reminder of how Kasparov could tie the world’s top players in knots…

Kasparov – PetrosianBugojno 1982

Petrosian never lost many games but he could find nothing better than resigning in this position. After 24 …Qxc5 25 Rxd8+ Qf8 26 Rxf8+ Kxf8 27 Rc7 his position will be totally dominated.

Hubner – Kasparov
Brussels 1986
38 …Nh2! and White resigned due to the impending doom of a Knight landing on f3.

The full stories of these games and 72 others are to be found in GM Stohl’s excellent new book.
For further details regarding Gambit chess books, please visit:

Focus On Hocus-Pocus
by Erwin Brecher PhD and Danny Roth BSc
(Panacea Press)

This is the third book in a Hocus-Pocus trilogy. The first two volumes combined bridge puzzles with logic and IQ tests and this one combines bridge with the greatest of all mind sports. Over 200 pages we are treated to 100 puzzles from both worlds. I have seen lots of chess puzzle books over the years and was very pleasantly surprised to see plenty of examples that were new to me. The first few examples are from 2003 and feature modern stars such as Luke McShane and Alexandra Kostenuik. Soon we meet up with the likes of Botvinnik, Bronstein, Spassky and Tal. This a great book for taking on a journey or to take out and read in the garden over the summer months. You can promise to cut the lawn and trim the hedges after the next puzzle and then suddenly get stuck and have to read on for a while longer.

Unfortunately, I am in no position to comment on the bridge puzzles as my card days are long behind me.

However, here’s a taster from the chess department…

Schlechter v MeitnerVienna 1899

This looks good for Black but White can force a quick win. Can you find it?

For further details, please visit:

The Modern Benoni Revealed
by IM Richard Palliser

There have moves afoot over the last couple of years to target club players who wish to take up new openings. Rather than lead readers up the garden path and into sub-variation 1243256B, just like the old days, the modern emphasis is more gentle introductions aimed at building up new repertoires. ‘Everyman’ started the ball rolling with their ‘Starting Out’ range and now Batsford are hitting back with their ‘Revealed’ series. The latest one tackles one of the most combative defences at Black’s disposal.

Anyone who has seen the marvelous book ‘Play 1d4!’ will already know how good a writer Richard Palliser is. This book is packed with lucid explanations and sound advice aimed at getting you up and running with the Modern Benoni as soon as possible.

Starting with 11 pages of explanation about the ‘First Moves’, the book then moves on to take a look at the Benoni ‘Heroes and Zeros’ which include Tal, Fischer and Topalov.

The superb ‘Strategy’ section details how to handle the various nuances of the defence, from the opening to the endgame and this is followed by ‘What’s Hot?’ This is an especially important chapter because we find out which lines are currently fashionable and/or particularly dangerous, meaning some extra work will need to be applied to avoid a string of defeats. Needless to say, the so-called ‘Flick-Knife Attack’ – or Taimanov Variation - is given pride of place here. After 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 f4 Bg7 8 Bb5+ Richard places special emphasis on the 8 … Nbd7 variation, which has often been given as ‘dubious’ in other sources. Play gets chaotic for a while before we reach this critical position.

Richard devotes several pages to this intriguing position. For those who would rather not put their trust in 8 …Nbd7, he also covers 8 …Bd7 and the more popular 8 …Nfd7.

The book moves on to give a ‘Theoretical Overview’, followed by instructive ‘Tricks and Traps’ and then concludes with some puzzles to test your new Benoni skills.

I always have more faith in an author’s choices when he is prepared to practice what he preaches, so I was pleased to see examples from Richard’s own games in this book. And here’s another one, which he demonstrated live when he came up earlier in the year for an excellent coaching event for our Chess Links Project…

Tozer - Palliser

Doncaster Open 27.02.2005
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.f4 Bg7 8.e5 Nfd7 9.Ne4 dxe5 10.Nd6+ Ke7 11.Nb5 Na6 12.d6+ Kf8 13.Nf3 e4 14.Ng5 h6 15.Nxe4 Nf6 16.Ng3 Bd7 17.Nc3 Qb6 18.Bc4 Re8+ 19.Nge2 Ne4 20.Nxe4 Rxe4 21.Bd5 Re8 22.0-0 Nb4 23.Bc4 Bf5 24.Nc3 Nc2 25.g4 Bd4+ 26.Kh1 Qc6+ 27.Bd5 Qxd5+ 28.Nxd5 Be4+ 29.Rf3 Bxd5 30.Kg2 Re1 0-1

This is an excellent book and the best introduction to this tricky opening I have seen. Highly recommended!

For details of this and all other Batsford chess books, please visit:

Answer to Schlechter v Meitner
1 Qxh6+!! Qxh6 2 Kh2 and Bf2 follows

Answer to Karpov v Taimanov
The World Champion of the time resigned after 1 …Ng3! as after 2 hxg3 Ra8! the Rook’s journey to h8 will be decisive.

Answer to hopeless looking position
White can draw by sacrificing the Queen 1 Qg4+! Kh6 2 Qg6+! and after the forced capture a draw is obtained because of the stalemate. I once saw Mike Closs draw a very similar position the same way in an important match v Bradford in the National Club Championship. Without the half-point, we’d have been KO’d.

Sean Marsh

June 2005