27 February 2021

"The Attacking Set-Up That Always Wins" - article

In the context of studying the Stonewall, it was interesting to see the article by GM Gregory Serper "The Attacking Set-Up That Always Wins" on Chess.com. Despite the clickbait title, it's actually a useful conceptual breakdown of some opening and middlegame ideas using the structure, focusing primarily on White's prospects with it (which he terms the "Pillsbury Attack"). Some highlights and observations:

  • The article intro examines the core setup (Ne5, Bd3 with pawns on d4/e3/f4) using a classic Pillsbury game (above image) from a Queen's Gambit opening. The main difference between it and a "pure" Stonewall Attack is the location of the Bg5. Other ideas seen (Qf3-h3 transfer, sacrificing the light-squared bishop, exploitation of the half-open f-file, etc.) are standard Stonewall ones.
  • Even more unusual paths to the formation for White are possible, including via 1.e4, as in the exciting games Bronstein-Zamikhovsky (see move 12 onwards) and Tal-Leonov (move 13 onwards), both from Caro-Kann (!) variations. In these the e-pawn is missing, but the other characteristics remain.
  • Black is given a nod with the citation of one classic attacking Dutch Stonewall game (Maroczy-Tartakower) that features a thematic rook sacrifice for White's h2 pawn, an idea (in reverse) which is also seen in one of the White example games (Steinitz-Mongredien).
The article is well worth the read for anyone looking at how to succeed by employing the Stonewall formation to attack. It also shows how this approach is not necessarily the result of formulaic "system" opening play, rather the idea is to reach specific position-types which can be very effective if their advantages are understood.

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