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The Dutch is really several openings in one, the Leningrad, the Classical (with ...d6 and ...e6) and the Stonewall being the three main categories. Of course, people experiment with various deviations on these themes, and sometimes revive old half-forgotten lines to create circumstances in which to trick the opponent. Whatever your choice of Dutch, see if you can find something that appeals to you this month. Happy reading.

Download PGN of April ’22 Daring Defences games

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Dutch 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.Nf3 g6 [A80]

In Andersen, M - Hauge, L Black did manage to equalize, but his position was always somewhat more difficult to handle. Still, 17...g5 instead of the premature 17...e5?! would have been fine. There is a possible improvement for White, earlier on move nine, as 9.h3 was perhaps overly-cautious.

With this advance, White softens up the h2-b8 diagonal to enhance the power of his 'London bishop'. As this seems quite promising, it might be that the whole plan involving both of ...g6 and ...e6 is a shade too slow. If you agree with me, then an alternative as early as move four should be sought as a better way to meet the B-f4 set-up.

Dutch 2.c4 and 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Bb4 5.Qb3 a5 [A85]

We are used to Richard Rapport trying out some off-beat possibilities, but in Gareev, T - Rapport, R it was his opponent who surprised everyone with his eighth move.

Here Gareev opted for 8.Ne5!? Bb7 9.Bd2 offering the g-pawn. This pawn might be 'edible', but in a practical game this greedy approach could easily go wrong. Instead, the encounter continued along a calmer path where White castled kingside, but where an asymmetric pawn structure gave chances for both sides. This was a rapid game and the quality tailed off towards the end.

Dutch b2-b4 versus Leningrad 4.e3 Bg7 5.b4 0-0 6.Bb2 c6 [A84]

In Kempinski, R - Berelowitsch, A I'm not sure that the straightforward ...d6, ...c6 and ...Nbd7 set-up really challenges White's early queenside advance.

However, with White developing very prudently, Black's 9...a5 seemed to earn enough play and he went on to win a good game.

More problematic for Black is when White places his queen's knight on c3 and expands quickly with a2-a4.

So perhaps Leningraders might want to investigate earlier alternatives such as Marin's strange-looking 6...e6!?.

Leningrad 6.Nh3 d6 7.d5 Na6 8.Nf4 [A86]

In Gharibyan, M - Petrosian, T Black's seventeenth move was the cause of his downfall, but there were already several key moments before that.

Here Black generally chooses between 9...e5 or 9...g5. I suppose that 9...g5 is principled in that White hasn't bothered to put a stop to this possibility with 9.h4, and Petrosian duly went down this road.

Then after 10.Nd3 Nce4 I think that White should capture on e4 (rather than opting for 11.Na4) with every chance of holding an edge i.e. after 11.Nxe4 fxe4 12 Ne1. Later, in the actual game, apart from a clear improvement on move eleven, I really don't like 17...exf6?, preferring 17...Qxf6 which should lead to him obtaining some dark-squared action for the pawn.

Leningrad 7.Nc3 c6 8.Re1 Na6 9.e4 [A88]

In Gorshtein, I - Gallego Alcarez, A the result was only decided deep into the game, but the opening was of theoretical interest.

I was surprised to see people still playing this early advance (9.e4), which I'd already dismissed as inferior a couple of years ago. However a closer look reveals that perhaps the move isn't so bad after all.

Following the forcing 9...fxe4 10.Nxe4 Nxe4 11.Rxe4 Bf5 12.Re1 I think that Black played the best move 12...Qd7 after which 13.Qb3 gives White a nominal space edge.

So, despite yet another Black win, I think that 9.e4 is 'playable' after all.

Stonewall Nh3 with 7...Nc6 [A90]

The encounter Thybo, J - Hillarp Persson, T featured the Stonewall with ...Nc6 against an early Nh3 by White.

Hillarp Persson employs the cheeky knight leap 8...Nb4 to chase the opposing queen around. Funnily enough, I actually think this is quite a good move, so it makes me question whether playing with 7.Qc2 and 8.Rd1 is such a good idea. My analysis of these positions throws up all sorts of ideas, some being rather unnatural-looking yet robust. So perhaps my best conclusion in this line is that so far theory has only scratched the surface. So there's no need to play the routine 7...c6, the alternative 7...Nc6 seems fine.

Stonewall Rapport Variation 4...Be7 5.Nf3 d5 6.0-0 Ne4 7.b3 [A92]

In Moroni, L - Rapport, R the Hungarian GM plays his own pet-line in the Dutch.

OK, you might feel 'this can't be good' and yet it is devilishly difficult for White to handle. The game and notes attesting to this. You might notice that Rapport started with 7...Nc6 and only then launched his trademark 8...h4. This move order is important because 7...h5 is premature due to 8.Ne5 hitting the hole on g6 and preparing f2-f3.

I'm so impressed with the potential in Black's position that I recommend the earlier 7.Ne5 (one reason being to get in f2-f3 as quickly as possible) to thwart Black's attacking ambitions.

Dutch Classical, Fluid Centre 6.b3 d6 7.Bb2 a5 [A96]

In Nihal, S - Vlachos, A Black lacked a little patience in his build-up.

How to meet Black's aggressive a-pawn advance? I think that Nihal got it right with 9.b4! 'by-passing' and then on move ten with 10.a3 'blocking'. Despite the time invested, Black is left with no real queenside action. So Vlachos tried a wild-looking 12...b5?! advance, but this only opened the c-file for White who was better placed to exploit it. A lesser evil involves 12...c6 and then ...d5 with a type of Stonewall, but White has a good version here (the bishop can redeploy to f4 and his advanced queenside pawns are an asset), so this doesn't solve all of Black's problems. So all-in-all maybe 8...a4 is a little early?

Dutch Defence: Fluid Centre 7...Ne4 8.Nxe4 fxe4 9.Ne1 [A96]

In Ovetchkin, R - Azarov, S English GM (and Dutch Defence hero) Simon Williams' pet line is given a test.

Here Black soon got into difficulties, but he may have had a path to a good game. Azarov tried 11...Bf6 but after 12.f3 I prefer White in all lines. OK, it can get complicated, but I can't see a route to objective equalty. Instead, I prefer 11...Na5!? to test White's intentions with his c-pawn. The knight on the rim isn't grim here, and I suspect that it may be the best. A strange idea, but if the centre stays fairly closed Black can afford this luxury.

Dutch Defence: Fluid Centre 7...Ne4 8.Nxe4 fxe4 9.Nd2 d5 10.f3 Nc6 [A96]

Here Azarov is at it again in Lazavik, D - Azarov, S but again I think that he erred in the opening. Maybe he should study Simon Williams's games and analysis (or failing that, my interpretations in ChessPublishing!) more often!

Although 13...b5 might seem to be the logical way forwards, I think that the timing is imprecise. Instead 13...Bd7! and only after 14.Rc1 to opt for 14...b5 seems more to the point. Going further 15.e5 Rb8! then seems fine for the second player, as already employed by Williams. In the actual game, after 14.a4 b4 the c4-pawn was weak, and there were several ways for White to demonstrate his advantage in what followed.

Till next month, Glenn Flear

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