22 October 2019

Video completed: Studies in The Stonewall, Volume 1

I recently completed this ChessLecture.com DVD featuring GM Leonid Kritz presenting of four of his own games in the Dutch Defense. So it is not really about explaining the Stonewall, although there is useful discussion of some typical concepts and common tactical threats/sequences.


"Playing the Dutch Stonewall for a Win, Part 1": the title of this segment is a misnomer, since the game is not actually a Stonewall (being a Nimzo-Dutch hybrid instead). So it was nice to see in general, as are all master-annotated games, but also disappointing, since it wasn't a Stonewall as advertised. This part would therefore be more applicable if you are a Dutch player looking to better understand early alternative options in White sidelines.

"Playing the Dutch Stonewall for a Win, Part 2": this features an offbeat White line with 7. Nbd2, starting from the standard Modern Stonewall position reached on move 6. Some thematic ideas are presented for Black: b6/Bb7 development with ideas of continuing with ...c5, ...Ba6; the ...Ne4 jump; watching out for the e6 pawn weakness.

"Suffer the Right Way Through the Stonewall, Part 1": this game has a non-standard opening sequence where White refrains from playing c4 and Black gets in an early ...b5, which again isn't really a Stonewall. Black then commits some inaccuracies and gets a worse position. Some general tactical ideas and considerations are touched on, including sacrifice ideas for White on d5/e6 and the vulnerability of c6/c7 after a c-pawn exchange by Black. Black has to suffer through the middlegame and endgame, hence the segment's title, although Kritz obtains a won endgame after some mistakes by White in time trouble.

"Suffer the Right Way Through the Stonewall, Part 2": this game reaches the move 6 Modern Stonewall position (so that makes 2 games out of 4 on the DVD). At this point Kritz quickly runs through some of the standard plans for White involving 7. b3 and exchanging the dark-squared bishops, with Black playing ...Qe7, exchanging on a3 if needed, and following up with the ...b6 and ...Bb7 bishop development. 7. Bf4 is also mentioned in a cursory fashion, with Kritz saying that after exchanging on f4 and playing b6/Bb7, Black is fine. This may be true, but this is in fact a major White system and no real plans are presented for either side in it. The game itself features 7. Qc2, another White sideline. Black commits an opening inaccuracy against White's follow-up with Bg5, by letting his opponent play e3 before he can exchange on f4, so then has to fight a while for equality. The general problem of the b5 square being available for a White knight after a pawn exchange on d5 using the Black c-pawn is highlighted, explaining why Kritz played an early ...a6. Black eventually reaches an advantageous major piece endgame, but an inaccuracy leads to a draw by repetition of moves.

I feel that the time spent on the DVD wasn't wasted, since it's always good to learn from master presentations of their own games. It was still rather disappointing to see only half of the content was directly applicable to study of the Stonewall, as was advertised. It's also worth noting that the content summary displayed on the cover (2 hours an 48 minutes, 9 lectures) applies to the full two-DVD set. I'll take a look at the second DVD in the near future.

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