08 November 2019

Annotated Game #226: This is not the Dutch you're looking for

This second-round tournament game features an Anglo-Dutch, a fancy way of saying that Black responds to my English Opening with a standard Dutch Defense setup. This is not necessarily a bad way to play for Black, but most Dutch players have a significantly more difficult time in coming up with a plan that doesn't involve use of the e4 square, which in this line is taken away by White after 7. d3. So it's not the Dutch they are normally looking for. I have much better results than average in this line and am happy to see it on the board.

My opponent actually does a decent job of pursuing his own goals on the kingside even without the e4 square, including the aggressive plan with 14...f4, which is good enough for equality. For my side, the main lesson out of the opening is to continue pressing on the queenside whenever possible, for example with 11.a4, rather than get distracted. The resulting middlegame evolution is interesting. I manage to draw Black's fangs on the kingside, even if I also end up liquidating my queenside space advantage. The result is a much more open game, which Black tries to take advantage of by snatching a central pawn with his queen. However, I get his c-pawn in return, along with a monster centralized bishop and the initiative.

My opponent, under pressure, neglects to see the net closing in around his queen and misses a backwards bishop move that traps it. (See also Annotated Game #218 and Annotated Game #221 for examples of this phenomenon.) So in this particular 9-game stretch, I won 3 games using this kind of tactic. I think the moral of the story is that it's more difficult in general to visualize backwards moves by pieces. That said, I was very much alive to the possibility and consciously played move 25 with the idea of taking away the Black queen's remaining squares.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class B"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A10"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 11.2"] [PlyCount "63"] {[%mdl 8192] A10: English Opening: Unusual Replies for Black} 1. c4 f5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 e6 4. g3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O d6 {the Classical Dutch setup.} 7. d3 {this keeps the game in English Opening territory. The important point for a Dutch is that the square e4 is no longer available to Black, taking away the usual ideas with ...Ne4.} Nc6 8. Rb1 {proceeding with the typical queenside expansion plan for White.} e5 {no reason not to grab space in the center, although without a pawn on d4 the dynamics are different, as no tension is immediately created.} 9. b4 Qe8 {continuing with standard Dutch motifs, with the idea of transferring the queen to the kingside. This also clears d8 for a knight retreat, as we see after} 10. b5 Nd8 11. Nd2 $146 {not a bad move, but perhaps not the most challenging to meet. The idea is to clear the long diagonal for the Bg2 and reinforce e4.} (11. a4 {is the move most played here and also favored by Komodo. This is a logical follow-up and prepares to either support b5 or advance further.}) 11... Ne6 12. e3 {this is usually a big help for White in meeting Black's kingside expansion plans, both guarding d4 and preparing to exchange on f4 and open the e-file for White.} Ng4 {Black prepares the advance f4, comments Komodo via the Fritz interface. There is also the idea of ...Qh4 to target h2, which is why I played the next move. Komodo assesses I can just ignore this, however.} 13. h3 {this pushes the knight back and controls g4, which is good. However, the h-pawn can sometimes become a target, so has to be watched carefully.} (13. a4 {is still the engine recommendation.} Qh5 $6 {is premature here, as after} 14. h3 Nf6 15. Qxh5 Nxh5 {Black doesn't have much prospect for a kingside attack and White's advantage on the queenside becomes more pronounced.}) 13... Nf6 14. Bb2 {the placement of the dark-square bishop is somewhat problematic, since e3 has already closed off its home diagonal, and it is in the way of other pieces on either b2 or a3. } f4 {the aggressive choice.} (14... a6) 15. exf4 exf4 16. Nd5 {this is often a thematic move in the English, but here it's not ideal.} (16. Re1 {would do better to take advantage of the opening of the e-file, which can be better used by the rook than the f-file.} fxg3 17. fxg3 Qg6 18. Kh2 $14) 16... Nxd5 $11 17. Bxd5 c6 18. bxc6 bxc6 19. Bg2 {White's space advantage on the queenside has now evaporated and the position is more balanced.} fxg3 20. fxg3 Qg6 21. Rxf8+ {I thought it was better to reduce the number of Black pieces on the kingside first.} Bxf8 22. Kh2 {the king is huddled together with the bishop behind the reduced pawn wall, but is still safe, as long as White is careful.} Qxd3 $2 (22... Bd7 {developing the bishop and protecting c6 looks equal.}) 23. Bxc6 $18 Rb8 24. Bd5 {now Black has major problems, as White's light-square bishop becomes dominant and the initiative is with White, especially after the pin on the Ne6. Black's queen is centralized but is effectively misplaced, with no pieces available to coordinate with it; it also has relatively few squares to go to, being surrounded by White pieces.} Rb6 25. Qe1 {this obviously pressures the Ne6 further, but more subtly also takes away e3 from the Black queen. Black needs to get his queen out of there now.} Kh8 $2 {dropping the queen, by missing the backwards bishop move.} (25... Qg6 $18) 26. Be4 Qxb1 27. Qxb1 {at this point White has queen for rook and all of the positional pluses, so the win is without difficulty.} Nc5 28. Qc2 (28. Qf1 $5) 28... Be7 29. Nb3 Nxe4 30. Qxe4 Rb7 31. Bd4 Kg8 32. Qc6 {forking the rook and bishop, a situation which continues after ...Rb8 and Qc7.} 1-0

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