25 December 2017

Video completed: Safe and Active with the Dutch Stonewall

"Safe and Active with the Dutch Stonewall" by GM Leonid Kritz is one of the ChessBase 60-minute series of videos.  Most of the FritzTrainer type DVDs/videos are several hours long, so these are designed to be more focused and necessarily less comprehensive, although that's not necessarily a drawback.  The video lecture is delivered in a no-nonsense style and gets right to the point, so I will too.


1. Introduction - a helpful tour of the variations GM Kritz will be covering, focusing on the main Stonewall lines with White fianchettoing his bishop on g3.  He also covers non-fianchetto development and the Staunton Gambit, assuming that Black starts with 1. d4 f5.

2. Variation - 5. Nh3.  This is a tricky idea that some White players see as the best antidote to the Stonewall.  GM Kritz does a good job in 13 minutes of showing how Black can effectively respond to White's ideas of using the f4 square and repositioning his knights.  Key general Stonewall principles are also highlighted, including the idea of it being a benefit for Black to exchange on e5 so a White pawn arrives there.

3. Variation - 5. Nf3 and later b3.  This is the classic White strategy of seeking to exchange dark-squared bishops.  GM Kritz shows how to maintain equality with the modern Stonewall approach of developing Black's light-squared bishop to b7 or a6.  I like the fact that in the main line he shows two Black approaches, with 9...b6 and 9...b5.

4. Variation - 5. Nf3 and later Nc3.  This is more of a catch-all of White variations without the b3 idea.  GM Kritz at the beginning says he gives fewer concrete variations than in the previous section, but this is more to sensitize the viewer to the fact that the lines covered should be studied more for their ideas, since there are plenty of concrete moves, especially with the immediate Bf4 idea for White.  Here he introduces the alternative Black light-square bishop development idea as well (Bd7-e8-h5 or g6).

5. Stonewall without g3 - GM Kritz highlights the alternative of Black playing ...Bb4 early in this line, in order to turn the position into a type of enhanced Nimzo-Indian.  It seems that this is the way he'd prefer to play, but instead of delving into that, we look at the classical Stonewall development scheme and various White and Black options.  It's helpful in this presentation to see several examples of inferior choices by both White and Black, and how they are exploited by the other side.

6. Staunton Gambit - GM Kritz chops through the variations effectively in less than ten minutes, showing how Black stays at least equal and presenting a number of inferior White deviations that can be punished.

General comments:
  • Each of the sections has the variations presented also available in game format, so you can copy them for analysis or look at them again on your own.  This is very helpful in building your repertoire database.
  • Although this is intended for Black players, the narration stays even-handed - this is not a "Crush Your Opponent" type of hyped-up video.  With best play in the lines, Black ends up solid and equal.  That said, a number of White alternatives that are considered inferior are highlighted, which is a real benefit.  I believe these types of explanations of openings are most useful, rather than simply running through best play for both sides in a repertoire style format.
  • Most of the emphasis of the lines presented is on the modern play with ...b6 and ...Bb7, focusing on the ...c5 break and queenside play for Black.  There's enough kingside counterplay illustrated, however, to get a feel for when Black should initiate it, along with the idea of the Bd7-e8-h5 or g6 development
  • While you probably could start playing the Stonewall with just this video, you would need to also 1) look at some games to see how the opening evolves into typical middlegame plans, and 2) look at some of the other Anti-Dutch variations White can play, notably 2. Bg5, if you plan to play 1...f5.  GM Viktor Moskalenko and some other Stonewall practitioners for that reason play 1. d4 e6, but of course in that case you need to have some idea of what to do in the French if White plays 2. e4 (a low but real probability).
  • Within the constraints of the 60-minute format, the lessons deliver a good deal of value and should be a helpful resource to players studying the Stonewall.

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