Dutch defence

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Robert Stokes
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Dutch defence

Post by Robert Stokes » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:53 am

I play in the minor section of weekend congresses which are usually up to ECF 120. Playing black and facing 1 d4, I am thinking about replying with 1 ... f5 as I suspect that this would surprise most opponents and they may not know how to proceed. However, I am wary of doing this, as there must be a reason why this reply is so little used by much higher graded players. Is there any line which white can take in the next few moves which guarantees a significant advantage?

There is another reason for asking this question. I will soon have to play as white in our club competition against someone graded about the same as me. I always lead with 1 d4 as I much prefer it to anything else and I have often seen him reply with 1 ... f5 which I have never found a good way to counter. (This is one reason why I am thinking of using it myself.)

Thank you for any help that you can give.
Robert

Thomas Rendle
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Re: Dutch defence

Post by Thomas Rendle » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:03 am

Although White can definitely claim a slight edge, the bigger issue is that it tends to be more difficult for Black to play. On top of that White has a large number of sidelines that are very dangerous, and making a mistake vs one of them can lead to some awful positions.

The Dutch is fun but be careful - and make sure you know your sidelines well. Many players start with 1...e6 (if they're happy to play the French) to avoid the sidelines if they're going for a Classical/Stonewall.

Thomas Rendle
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Re: Dutch defence

Post by Thomas Rendle » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:05 am

Consider 2.Nc3 or 2.Bg5 vs the Dutch and check a few lines. 2.Nc3 is definitely the easier to learn if you don't want theory.

Nick Burrows
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Re: Dutch defence

Post by Nick Burrows » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:13 am

1.d4 f5 has a few advantages. You are in your own theory from move 1. It is imbalancing, and games have a different character to regular queens pawn openings. It is a good opening when you want to play for a win.

A downside is that there are lots of dangerous gambits and sidelines that you need to be prepared for.

As black you can play it in different ways depending on your style. You can play for an attack with the Leningrad or the Classical, or more solidly with the Stonewall.

The easiest to learn, and a very dangerous weapon in minor tournaments would be the Classical as outlined in Simon Williams dvd's.

NickFaulks
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Re: Dutch defence

Post by NickFaulks » Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:01 pm

Robert Stokes wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:53 am
I am thinking about replying with 1 ... f5 as I suspect that this would surprise most opponents and they may not know how to proceed.
The Dutch has much to be said for it, but I don't think it can claim surprise value. I see it played a great deal in club matches.

As has already been said, you really do need to be ready for apparent nonsense like 2.Bg5.

J T Melsom
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Re: Dutch defence

Post by J T Melsom » Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:07 pm

I think the key here is 'imbalance' as Nick says and also not to be too hung up about grandmaster trends if you are playing in minor tournaments. Even at a slightly higher but still modest level I'm tempted by the Dutch because I want something playable and a game played a bit more on my terms. I've become relatively proficient against slow d4 systems but I'm not enjoying the positions. As you can play f5 against c4 and Nf3 as well, its a productive area of study, some other opening choices might never appear on the board.

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David Shepherd
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Re: Dutch defence

Post by David Shepherd » Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:55 pm

Looking at your grading profile your grade has been steady over a number of years, so you might as well try it. It is fun to learn something new and it might suit your style, if it doesn't it is easy to change back and your chess knowledge will have increased. Even if you don't like it, you will have a better knowledge about the opening and what to do if your opponent plays it as black.

Geoff Chandler
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Re: Dutch defence

Post by Geoff Chandler » Thu Mar 22, 2018 1:00 pm

Hi Robert,

It's a good idea to start playing an opening you are not scoring against.
Someone will play a variation that you don't like and you now have a tool v that opening.

Be a bit wary about playing 1...f5 v 1.Nf3. 2.e4!? The Lisitsyn Gambit scores quite well at the under 2000 level.
(Black best reply is 2...e5! The Latvian!)

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JustinHorton
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Re: Dutch defence

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Mar 22, 2018 1:09 pm

If your grade is below 120 the important thing may not be what you play, so much as you should play something, and try and stick to it.
"Do you play chess?"
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J T Melsom
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Re: Dutch defence

Post by J T Melsom » Thu Mar 22, 2018 1:18 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 1:09 pm
If your grade is below 120 the important thing may not be what you play, so much as you should play something, and try and stick to it.

This is the flip side of change. Chopping and changing keeps things fresh, but doesn't lend itself to deep understanding. And too much time spent on openings may not be productive chess time.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Dutch defence

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Mar 22, 2018 1:41 pm

Robert Stokes wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:53 am
I am thinking about replying with 1 ... f5 as I suspect that this would surprise most opponents and they may not know how to proceed. However, I am wary of doing this, as there must be a reason why this reply is so little used by much higher graded players. Is there any line which white can take in the next few moves which guarantees a significant advantage?

White can use a standard queens pawn setup in any order with d4, c4, Nf3, Nc3, g3, Bg2, 0-0 without any real danger and Black being able to do much to disrupt it, other than by Bb4 check, or the Alekhine/Simon Williams idea of .. Ne4. A danger for White only arises later in the middle game if he falls for some play like Qd8-e8-h5, Ng4 and Qxh2 mate.

I doubt much more than a small advantage even in the main lines, but even the slow or strange moves like 1. d4, 2 Nf3/Nc3/Bg5 can pack more punch than against 1. .. Nf6 or 1. .. d4, to say nothing of ideas like 2. Qd3, 2. h3 or 2. g4.

Petrosian is believed to have once said that if your opponent was likely to play a Stonewall Dutch, little should be done to put them off.

J T Melsom
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Re: Dutch defence

Post by J T Melsom » Thu Mar 22, 2018 1:55 pm

Roger, your observations are sound, but I don't think they are appropriate to the chess standard of the original poster, or rather probably of limited relevance. He is not for the most part facing players who are well booked and is just seeking positions which are a little different to his normal set-up, which he might find interesting and playable himself. Either he or his opponent might go wrong or depart from theory. Most players simply aren't playing enough chess to be familiar with everything.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Dutch defence

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Mar 22, 2018 2:13 pm

J T Melsom wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 1:55 pm
but I don't think they are appropriate to the chess standard of the original poster, or rather probably of limited relevance.
120 is a high enough standard that players should know what the main lines are, even if they don't know or understand how to play the resulting middle game or cannot calculate for toffee.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Dutch defence

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Thu Mar 22, 2018 2:16 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 2:13 pm
J T Melsom wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 1:55 pm
but I don't think they are appropriate to the chess standard of the original poster, or rather probably of limited relevance.
120 is a high enough standard that players should know what the main lines are, even if they don't know or understand how to play the resulting middle game or cannot calculate for toffee.
Don't know which 120s you're playing regularly, Roger, but the ones at my club have far less in the way of theoretical knowledge than they do in practical middlegame skill.

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Chris Goodall
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Re: Dutch defence

Post by Chris Goodall » Thu Mar 22, 2018 2:24 pm

Robert Stokes wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:53 am
Playing black and facing 1 d4, I am thinking about replying with 1 ... f5 as I suspect that this would surprise most opponents and they may not know how to proceed. However, I am wary of doing this, as there must be a reason why this reply is so little used by much higher graded players. Is there any line which white can take in the next few moves which guarantees a significant advantage?
Okay, rewind, two things caught my attention about what you said.

One, however deep we amateurs think the opening theory rabbit hole goes, we're wrong, it goes deeper than that. If you could blast an opening off the board in 4 or 5 moves, word would have gotten out, and it would be in Really Easy Chess For Beginners Volume 1 along with the Noah's Ark Trap and the Fried Liver and the From Gambit checkmate. Openings go out of fashion at super-GM level because some guy in a tournament in Siberia stumbled upon a variation that the computer evaluates as +0.40 to the opponent instead of +0.30. For "obviously bad" openings like the Latvian Gambit, that variation might be as "early" as move 10. For a main line Sveshnikov Sicilian, that's almost certainly going to be move 20 or later. It's hilarious when players graded about 170-190 start explaining to you how the Dragon/Benoni/Pirc is obviously a terrible opening and they don't know why anyone still plays it. Oh really? If you'd been around 30 years ago you'd have been able to explain to the top grandmasters why their favourite opening was obviously terrible, would you?

If anyone tries to tell you the Dutch is a terrible opening, press them for more details. If they talk in positional clichés or dodge the question, they probably just don't want you to play the Dutch against them. Play the Dutch against them!

Two, this is a persistent myth among chess writers: the value of surprise. The value of putting your opponent in a position where she doesn't how to proceed. How often have you seen that in an opening book? "This will get your opponents out of theory." "This will force your opponents to think for themselves." "This will throw your opponents on their own resources."

Chess is a game of thought. Why on earth should forcing my opponent to think be a good idea? Best case scenario, I want to play an opening that's good for me regardless of what my opponent does. If I can't do that, then I want to play an opening that lulls my opponent into playing on auto-pilot. I want to play some dastardly move-order trick so that they confuse a position they've seen before with a position they haven't. Forcing my opponent to think for themselves is the last thing I want to do.

"How shall we break into this office?"
"I know, let's deliberately set off the burglar alarm so that they're forced to come and look for us."

If you spring ...f5 on an opponent and they don't know how to proceed, they probably won't sit there and lose on time. They'll probably invent something. What are you hoping they'll invent, that's worse than what they'd have played if they did know how to proceed? 2.f3? One thing I will say about 1...f5: it's hard to actually invent a bad response to it as White. 2.e4 - well-known line. 2.g4 - well-known line. 2.Qd3 - interesting sideline. 2.Nh3 - actually a thematic move in lots of Dutch lines.

Play the Dutch because it's a perfectly good opening and the people telling you it's hopelessly unsound don't really know why they're telling you that. Don't play the Dutch because you believe it's a bad move but you hope it'll make your opponent play something even worse. That's a bad habit to get into.
Chris Goodall, formerly known as Chris Wardle. ECF Grader for the ancient kingdom of Bernicia (or Northumberland and Durham, if you prefer).
Newcastle is not in Scotland!

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